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"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.

Music and lyricsEdit

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)[1] have forgotten how to make love, 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"). 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.[4]

Recording and releaseEdit

Bowie premiered the song live in November 1972—initially at either Pirate's World, Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[2] or Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix[3]—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.[5] 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,[6] 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.[7] 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 listingEdit

  1. "Drive-In Saturday" (David Bowie) – 4:29 (the German version (RCA 74-16231) features an alternate 3:59 edit[8])
  2. "Round and Round" (Chuck Berry) – 2:39

Production creditsEdit

Live versionsEdit

  • 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:

Other releasesEdit

Cover versionsEdit

  • The Diamonds on Million Copy Hit Songs Made Famous By Elton John & David Bowie.
  • Joe Jackson on Live: New York Club Dates.
  • The Turn on Ashes To Ashes: A Tribute to David Bowie (1998).
  • Def Leppard on the album Yeah!. ("I've heard secondhand that Bowie really digs what we did," said singer Joe Elliott.[11])
  • Morrissey, at a 2000 concert at New York City's Beacon Theater, as the evening's encore[12] and during a 2007 American tour. It was also released as a live B-side of his 2008 single "All You Need Is Me", and then on his B-side album Swords.


  1. Dave Thompson "Drive-In Saturday". allmusic. Access: 28 October 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.53
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.175-185
  4. 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)
  5. Kurt Loder & David Bowie (1989). Sound + Vision: CD liner notes
  6. Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now - David Bowie: The London Years: 1947-1974: p.277
  7. Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.67
  8. Kids
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kids
  10. Kids
  11. Template:Cite magazine
  12. Morrissey's live version 2000 youtube


Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, Template:ISBN

Template:David Bowie singles

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