The song was constructed from three different sections of music previously composed by Hatch and changes in musical style from pop to symphonic and then to a Beach Boys-like melody for the chorus. It uses a chord progression most familiar from the baroque piece Pachelbel's Canon.
In the lyrics the narrator advises her sweetheart against storming out after an argument due to his "foolish pride". If he does, he will "sleep in the subway" or "stand in the pouring rain" merely to prove his point. Although in England the term "subway" refers to a pedestrian underpass rather than an underground transit system, Hatch employed the term in the latter American sense. According to the song's co-writer Jackie Trent the title lyric was suggested by the 1961-62Broadway musical Subways Are For Sleeping.
"Don't Sleep in the Subway" peaked at #5 on the US charts in June 1967, becoming Clark's final US Top Ten single and the second of two #1 hits on theBillboard Easy Listening chart, following "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love". In the UK where Clark's precedent single "This Is My Song" had afforded Clark her best chart showing with two weeks at #1 "Don't Sleep in the Subway" had a July 1967 chart peak of #12 evincing a decline in Clark's UK chart profile which would continue until Clark made her last UK Top 40 appearance with a new recording with "Song of My Life" which peaked at #32 in March 1971. (Clark would subsequently peak at #47 UK with "I Don't Know How to Love Him" in 1972 and in 1988 a remix of her 1964 recording "Downtown" would peak at #10 UK.) "Don't Sleep in the Subway" reached #3 in Rhodesia, #5 in Canada, #7 in New Zealand, #10 in South Africa and #16 in Germany. In Australia, it was at #1 on the charts dated 16 and 23 September 1967, marking Clark's final appearance at #1 on an official national chart.
Cited by Clark—with "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love"—as her favorite of her hits, "Don't Sleep in the Subway" has also been recorded by (Rita Hovink),Matt Monro, Patti Page, Frank Sinatra and Caterina Valente. A Spanish rendering: "No duermas en el metro", was recorded by both (Gelu) and Los Stop (es).Siw Malmkvist recorded the Swedish rendering "Sov Inte På Tunnelbanan" in 1970.
The song's title was used as part of a candidate's name in "Election Night Special", a sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus: another of that series' episodes featured Cardinal Richelieu (Michael Palin) lip-synching to Clark's record on the show-within-a-show Historical Impersonations. It also makes a brief appearance in the Malcolm in the Middle episode, "Emancipation"—Lois blasts the song on her car stereo to avoid confronting Francis about his legal emancipation.
|Australian Singles Chart||1|
|Canadian Singles Chart||5|
|German Singles Chart||16|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||7|
|South African Singles Chart||10|
|UK Singles Chart||12|
|US Billboard Hot 100||5|
|US Billboard Easy Listening||1|