"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 3 UK hit.


 [hide*1 Music and lyrics

Music and lyrics[edit]Edit

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 2033)[1] have forgotten how to reproduce, and need to watch old porn films to see how it's done.[2] The narrative has been cited as an example of Bowie's "futuristic nostalgia",[3] 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.[2] 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[edit]Edit

The song was premiered live, at Pirate's World, Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[2] or Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix (on 4 November 1972),[3] according to various sources, well before being committed to tape. 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.[4] 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 Ziggy Stardust tour, an alteration that remained evident in photographs as late as 1974.

Bowie's version, recorded in New York on 9 December 1972,[5] was released in April 1973 and remained in the charts for 10 weeks, reaching No. 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.[6] Biographer David Buckley has called "Drive-In Saturday" and "Rebel Rebel" Bowie's "finest glam-era singles".[3]


Chart (1973) Peak


UK Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Chart 14

Track listing[edit]Edit

  1. "Drive-In Saturday" (David Bowie) – 4:29 (the German version (RCA 74-16231) features an alternate 3:59 edit[7])
  2. "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:39

Production credits[edit]Edit

Live versions[edit]Edit

  • 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."

Other releases[edit]Edit

  • It appears (in its album version) 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" will be available as an exclusive for the Record Store Day.[8] "Drive-In Saturday" will be backed up with the "Russell Harty Plus Pop version" of the track.[8]

Cover versions[edit]Edit

  • 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 at the Beacon Theater as the evening's encore[9] and during his 2007 American tour. It was also released as a live B-side for his 2008 single "All You Need Is Me", and then on his B-side album Swords.
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