|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Aladdin Sane|
|B-side||"Round and Round"|
|Released||6 April 1973|
|Recorded||RCA Studios, New York|
9 December 1972
|Length||4:29 (album version)|
3:59 (German single edit)
|Producer(s)||Ken Scott, David Bowie|
|David Bowie singles chronology|
Music and lyrics
Heavily influenced by 1950s doo-wop, "Drive-In Saturday" describes how the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world in the future (Bowie once said the year was 2033) have forgotten how to make love, 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, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, 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"). The reference to Jung is significant according to artist Tanja Stark, and heralds the pivotal influence of Jungian depth psychology upon his career. She suggests the lyric "crashing out with sylvian" is a cryptic reference to the Sylvian fissure in the brain associated with visionary and hallucinatory experiences.
Recording and release
Bowie premiered the song live in November 1972—initially at either Pirate's World, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix—well before committing it to tape. He offered it 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 off his eyebrows during the Ziggy Stardust tour, an alteration that remained evident in photographs as late as 1974.
Bowie's studio version, recorded in New York on 9 December 1972, was released as a single in April 1973 and remained in the charts for 10 weeks, reaching No. 3 in the UK. 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 not 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".
|UK Singles Chart||3|
|Irish Singles Chart||14|
- "Drive-In Saturday" (David Bowie) – 4:29 (the German version (RCA 74-16231) features an alternate 3:59 edit)
- "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:39
- A live audience recording from The Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, 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:
|“||This is the bit where all the people with the tape recorders have to leave, because I'm gonna do a new number and you mustn't record it.... I'll tell you where we wrote this. We wrote this from Phoenix down to Seattle—no, see, it's the other way around, isn't it—from Seattle down to Phoenix, and it was about the future, and it's about a future where people have forgotten how to make love, so they go back onto video-films that they have kept from this century. This is after a catastrophe of some kind, and some people are living on the streets and some people are living in domes, and they borrow from one another and try to learn how to pick up the pieces. And it's called "Drive-In Saturday."||”|
- Bowie performed the song on Russell Harty Plus, a UK television show, on 17 January 1973. This performance is included on the DVD version of Best of Bowie.
- In addition to live performances in 1972-1974, the song was performed by Bowie on his 1999 tour and is included on VH1 Storytellers (David Bowie album).
- It appears on several compilations:
- It was released as picture discs in both the RCA Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set.
- On Saturday 20 April 2013, a 40th Anniversary 7" picture disc of "Drive-in Saturday" was released as an exclusive for Record Store Day. "Drive-In Saturday" was backed up with the "Russell Harty Plus Pop version" of the track.
- An alternate edit of the song, issued on the German single (RCA 74-16231), was released on CD for the first time in 2015 on Re:Call 1, part of the Five Years (1969–1973) compilation.
- Def Leppard on the album Yeah!. ("I've heard secondhand that Bowie really digs what we did," said singer Joe Elliott.)
- Pepinster, Catherine (16 August 1998). "Gold Dust: Glam rock's top 10 singles". The Independent. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- "David Bowie's 40 Greatest Songs". NME.
- Dave Thompson "Drive-In Saturday". allmusic. Access: 28 October 2011.
- Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.53
- David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.175-185
- Stark, Tanja (2015). "Crashing Out With Sylvian: David Bowie, Carl Jung and the Unconscious" in Deveroux, E.; Power, M. and Dillane, A. (eds). Bowie: Critical Perspectives: Routledge Press Contemporary Music Series (chapter 5)
- Kurt Loder & David Bowie (1989). Sound + Vision: CD liner notes
- Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now - David Bowie: The London Years: 1947-1974: p.277
- Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.67
- "Drive-In Saturday". David Bowie Illustrated Discography.
- "Drive-In Saturday is next RSD Bowie exclusive". Davidbowie.com. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Drive-In Saturday". David Bowie Illustrated Discography.
- Ling, Dave (July 2006). "The dirt: Joe Elliott". Classic Rock #94. p. 38.