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"Drive-In Saturday" is a song by David Bowie from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. It was released as a single a week before the album and, like its predecessor "The Jean Genie", became a Top 5 UK hit.

Music and lyrics

Heavily influenced by 1950s doo-wop, "Drive-In Saturday" describes how the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world have forgotten how to reproduce, and need to watch old porn films to see how it's done. The narrative has been cited as an example of Bowie's "futuristic nostalgia", where the story is told from the perspective of an inhabitant of the future looking back in time.

Its composition was inspired by strange lights amidst the barren landscape between Seattle, Washingtonmarker, and Phoenix, Arizonamarker, as seen from a train at night on Bowie's 1972 US tour. The music featured Bowie's synthesizer and saxophone, while the lyrics name-checked Mick Jagger ("When people stared in Jagger's eyes and scored"), the model Twiggy ("She'd sigh like Twig the wonder kid"), and Carl Jung ("Jung the foreman prayed at work").

Recording and release

The song was premiered live well before being committed to tape, at Pirate's World, Fort Lauderdale, Floridamarker, or Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix (on 4 November 1972), according to various sources. It was initially offered for recording to Mott the Hoople but they turned it down, Bowie later saying that he didn't know why they refused it. However in his 1972 tour narrative, Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll Star, Mott leader Ian Hunter appears utterly perplexed by the song's pop complexity when Bowie plays it to him, writing that it has "a hell of a chord rundown". Bowie claimed on VH1's Storytellers that his frustration with Mott the Hoople's rejection of the song led to his shaving of his eyebrows during the the Ziggy Stardust tour, an alteration that remained evident in photographs as late as 1974.

Bowie's version, recorded on his return to Britain from his US tour, was released in April 1973 and remained in the charts for 10 weeks, reaching #3 in the UK charts. The B-side, "Round and Round", was a cover of Chuck Berry's track "Around and Around", a leftover from the Ziggy Stardust sessions. Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg describes "Drive-In Saturday" as "arguably the finest track on Aladdin Sane", as well as "the great forgotten Bowie single", which he attributed to the fact that it was never issued on a greatest hits album until almost 20 years after its release. Biographer David Buckley has called "Drive-In Saturday" and "Rebel Rebel" Bowie's "finest glam-era singles".

Charts

Chart (1973) Peak

position
UK Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Chart 14


Track listing

  1. "Drive-In Saturday" (David Bowie) – 4:29 (the German version (RCA 74-16231) features an alternate 3:59 edit )
  2. "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:39


Production credits





Live versions

  • A live audience recording from The Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohiomarker, on 25 November 1972 was released on the bonus disc of the Aladdin Sane - 30th Anniversary Edition in 2003. Not included in that release was Bowie's introduction to the song, as follows:




Other releases



Cover versions

  • The Diamonds on the album Million Copy Hit Songs Made Famous By Elton John & David Bowie
  • Joe Jackson on the album Live: New York Club Dates
  • The Turn on the album Ashes To Ashes: A Tribute To David Bowie in 1998
  • Def Leppard on the album Yeah!
  • Morrissey covered the song in a 2000 concert in New York City as the evening's encore [211817] and during his 2007 American tour. It was also released as a live b-side for his 2008 single All You Need Is Me.


Notes

References

Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5


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