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Ten Driving Songs By McCartney

The car, certainly in the fifties and sixties, is a symbol of freedom. For the first time in history, human beings have the opportunity to make long journeys easily. Driving also stands for independence, especially those of young people. Therefor it's not surprising that making a ride is a popular theme in pop music. And also in McCartney ‘s case, traveling is a recurring theme. An overview of ten ‘driving songs’ by McCartney.

Driving your car, heading to a certain destination, McCartney uses these themes in his lyrics throughout his whole career. Most of the time not literally though, in a lot of songs it’s about a travel through live. “It’s just a metaphor” as he explains in the track Road from his last album NEW (2013).

Driving Rain
The title track of McCartney’s 2001 album is one of the few songs that actually really was inspired by a day off, driving around in a car, while staying in Los Angeles.
‘Driving Rain’ was written out here in Los Angeles – there was a lot of rain out here in February and so on our day off we went off for a drive in this little Corvette that I hired, we drove off up the Pacific Coast Highway and went on up to Malibu and had a bit of lunch. In the evening, feeling great after a nice day out, I was sitting around at the piano and I just started writing something half-based on the day out. People say ‘how do you get your creativity?’ and I think the answer is that you just have to be open to stuff.
Paul McCartney 

Get Out Of My Way
A classic driving song from the 1993 album Off The Ground in the style of fifties rock ‘n’ roll, inspired especially by Chuck Berry’s songs. “It’s a driving song, you know, I’m in my car, heading to see my girl, so ‘get out of my way’. 

On The Way
In On the Way Paul apparently has some confessions to make to his travel companion and he will be doing that during a long journey. A rare blues song by McCartney from his 1980 album McCartney II. 
I put down a drum track and some bass and that was that and it sat around for a month or so. The day before going back to it, I had seen Alexis Korner on a TV program about the blues, and I thought, 'Oh, I've got to do something like that because it's the kind of music I like.' So that's how that one came about.
Paul McCartney

Getting Closer
Another song about McCartney on his way to a woman. “Keeping ahead of the rain on the road, watching my windscreen wipers” The weather is bad, while driving, and this woman? Is she nice actually? Calling her ‘my salamander’ doesn’t really sound that way…

Helen Wheels
Not a driving song really, but an homage to the car itself:  
Helen Wheels is our Land Rover. It's a name we gave to our Land Rover, which is a trusted vehicle that gets us around Scotland. It takes us up to the Shetland Islands and down to London. The song starts off in Glasgow, and it goes past Carlisle, goes to Kendal, Liverpool, Birmingham and London. It's the route coming down from our Scottish farm to London, so it's really the story of the trip down. Little images along the way. Liverpool is on the West coast of England, so that is all that means." 
Paul McCartney

Back Seat Of My Car
Inspired by the long road trips McCartney used to make with Linda as the Beatles were breaking up.
Back Seat of My Car is the ultimate teenage song, and even though it was a long time since I was a teenager and had to go to a girl's dad and explain myself, it's that kind of meet-the-parents song. It's a good old driving song. [Sings] "We can make it to Mexico City." I've never driven to Mexico City, but it's imagination. And obviously "back seat" is snogging, making love.
Paul McCartney

Two Of Us
Just get in your car and start driving without a goal. McCartney wrote the track about wandering around with his soon-to-be wife, Linda McCartney. 
When I moved to England to be with Paul, we would put Martha in the back of the car and drive out of London. We'd keep driving without looking at any signs. Hence the line in the song, 'Two of us going nowhere.’
Linda McCartney

Ticket To Ride
‘Ticket to Ride’ is the story of a girl who boards a train headed out of a bad relationship. The title has a double meaning; it was a play on the name of the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where McCartney’s cousin and her husband owned a pub. Lennon and McCartney crashed there while hitchhiking in the early '60s; McCartney recalled that he mentioned the trip to Ryde to Lennon while they wrote ‘Ticket to Ride.’ 

Drive My Car
No, this Beatles classic is actually not about travelling. It’s all about sex, although not intended at first.
The lyrics I brought in were something to do with golden rings, which is always fatal. (..) Somehow it became 'drive my car' instead of 'golden rings,' and then it was wonderful because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came and suddenly there was a girl there, the heroine of the story, and the story developed. Drive my car was an old blues euphemism for sex, so in the end all is revealed. Black humor crept in and saved the day. It wrote itself then. I find that very often, once you get the good idea, things write themselves.

Related Posts:

Paul McCartney Live Wish List
McCartney’s Ten Best Vocals Solo
McCartney Live: Ten Favorite Beatles Tracks

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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