This Beach Boys classic is one of the all time great car songs. The rhythm is a real steering wheel tapper and it’s virtually impossible not to at least hum along with their tremendous harmonies.
One thing I don’t think the Beach Boys get enough credit for is truly painting the scene with their words. They did a remarkable job of letting you feel the surf pounding on the beach in “Surfin USA” as well as the comfort and security that comes “In My Room.”
When it comes to car songs they were one of the best at letting you smell the burning rubber as they ran through the gears. If you want to know what Hot Rodding was all about in the 50′s this song takes you back there better then the aroma of an old leather jacket.
You can even learn what the hot setup was “she has a competition clutch with a four on the floor…she purrs like a kitten until the lake pipes roar….” Can’t you just hear it?
Brian Wilson and Roger Christian who wrote the song also put you behind the wheel when you stomp on the loud pedal. “I get pushed out of shape and it’s hard to steer… When I get rubber in all four gears…” A feeling we have all dreamed about, one a few of us have been lucky enough to experience.
The song is the title track of the Beach Boys fourth album. It was released in 1963 and reached #4 and spent 46 weeks on the charts. The car was owned by Clarence “Chili” Catallo and provided by Hot Rod Magazine for the cover shot.
Today the car is owned by Chili’s son Curt. I had a chance to see the famed Duece at the Pebble Beach Concours a few years ago. Even with all of those millions of dollars worth of incredible machinery on the 18th hole at Pebble, the Little Duece Coupe stood out and was immediately recognizable. More importantly it had everybody smiling and humming.