Drive-In Saturday

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"Drive-In Saturday"
Bowie DriveInSaturday.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Aladdin Sane
B-side"Round and Round"
Released6 April 1973
Recorded9 December 1972
StudioRCA, New York
Length4:29 (album version)
3:59 (German single edit)
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"The Jean Genie"
"Drive-In Saturday"
Alternative cover

"Drive-In Saturday" is a song by English singer-songwriter 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.

Music and lyrics[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 was 2033)[3] have forgotten how to make love, and need to watch old porn films to see how it's done.[4] The narrative has been cited as an example of Bowie's "futuristic nostalgia",[5] 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.[4] 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.[6]

Recording and release[edit]

Bowie premiered the song live in November 1972—initially at either Pirate's World, Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[4] or Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix[5]—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.[7] 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,[8] 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.[9] Biographer David Buckley has called "Drive-In Saturday" and "Rebel Rebel" Bowie's "finest glam-era singles".[5]


Chart (1973) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[10] 47
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 14
UK Singles (OCC)[12] 3

Track listing[edit]

UK single[13]
  1. "Drive-In Saturday" (David Bowie) – 4:29 (the German version (RCA 74-16231) features a different 3:59 edit[14])
  2. "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:39

Production credits[edit]

Live versions[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]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Def Leppard on the album Yeah!. ("I've heard secondhand that Bowie really digs what we did," said singer Joe Elliott.[17])
  • Morrissey has performed "Drive-In Saturday" live several times. The first time was the encore on 29 February 2000 at the Beacon Theater in New York City. He did not perform the song again until May 2007 on his Greatest Hits tour. A recording made at the 11 May 2007 show in Nebraska was included as the B-side on the "All You Need Is Me" UK 7" single #1 and on the "Swords" album. No studio version of Morrissey's cover has been released as of July 2020. [18]


  1. ^ Pepinster, Catherine (16 August 1998). "Gold Dust: Glam rock's top 10 singles". The Independent. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  2. ^ "David Bowie's 40 Greatest Songs". NME.
  3. ^ Dave Thompson "Drive-In Saturday". allmusic. Access: 28 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.53
  5. ^ a b c David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.175-185
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Kurt Loder & David Bowie (1989). Sound + Vision: CD liner notes
  8. ^ Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now - David Bowie: The London Years: 1947-1974: p.277
  9. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.67
  10. ^ " – David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Drive In Saturday". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  12. ^ "David Bowie: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Drive-In Saturday" (Single liner notes). David Bowie. UK: RCA Victor. 1973. RCA 2352.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "Drive-In Saturday". David Bowie Illustrated Discography.
  15. ^ a b "Drive-In Saturday is next RSD Bowie exclusive". Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Drive-In Saturday". David Bowie Illustrated Discography.
  17. ^ Ling, Dave (July 2006). "The dirt: Joe Elliott". Classic Rock #94. p. 38.
  18. ^ Passions Just Like Mine Retrieved 13 July 2020


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