|| Little Deuce Coupe -- The Beach Boys |
Year: 1963 Position: Top 20 Label: Capitol
Let's start this out right, by admitting that hardly anyone has any idea what a deuce coupe is. Sure it's a car, but what kind? Answer: a deuce coupe is a 1932 Ford coupe; it's called a "deuce" because of the "two" in 32. THE STORY: Roger Christian grew up in Buffalo, new York, a blue-collar steel-mill city where, as far as male teenagers were concerned, "your girl, your car, and football were the only things that mattered". On Friday nights it was a date with your girl. On Saturday afternoons it was high-school football. And the rest of the week, your car was #1. In the '50s, when Roger was in his teens, a deuce coupe was the car for a Buffalo guy to own. CHRISTIAN: "Everyone wanted one because deuce coupes had great lines, and you could make street rods out of them that looked so pretty. Nowadays, most people don't know what they look like, but if you saw the movie American Graffiti, you saw a beauty. You know, the yellow hot rod that the cowboy drove? That was a deuce coupe. Anyway, most high school kids would pay a hundred, a hundred twenty-five bucks for one, and that was it. They'd get a car that ran. But it would be rusted out from all the salt they put on the roads in Buffalo during the wintertime. And I didn't want a rusted-out car. I wanted a cherry one". Christian was a precocious kid when it came to cars. When he was only fourteen years old, still a few years away from a driver’s license, he decided it was time for him to find the deuce coupe of his dreams. He knew he wouldn’t find it in snow country, so he waited till the summer, stuck out his thumb, and headed for Car Heaven, the Land of the Body-Beautiful--Southern California. CHRISTIAN: “I got a job washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant in Long Beach. They let me have a room out back where I could stay and I managed to save up about $400; it took practically all summer, All the time I kept checking the classified ads in the L.A. Times for deuce coupes. Finally in late August, I found one for sale in Lancaster, just outside of L.A. I hitched a ride out there on a semi. The guy dropped me off and I went and bought the car on the spot. Paid about $375 for it, which was real expensive, but I wanted a great car. Then I drove it back to New York. I was lucky I didn’t get stopped by the cops.” Roger loved his car. Besides elevating his local status because it was “the fastest set of wheels in town” his Ford was the first car he’d ever owned. And that made it special. “You can remember the first car you ever owned can’t you?’ he asks. “You just have a certain love for it that you never lose.” So when he began writing poetry [yes’ folks, Roger Christian wrote poetry about his cars], his deuce coupe was a primary subject. “Little Deuce Coupe” Christian’s ode to the beloved vehicle, was one of the poems in a notebook that Brian Wilson flipped through one night when he went to visit Christian, then a top L.A. disc jockey. The first thing Wilson discovered in the notebook was “Shut Down.” He didn’t take any particular notice of “Deuce Coupe” until Mike Love brought up the subject. “Mike had a deuce coupe,” Christian recalls, “and he told Brian he thought it would be great to do a song about it So Brian came back and said, ‘You still got that song about the deuce coupe?’ I said sure, and gave it to him. The next time I heard it was when Brian brought back a demo. I loved it, but Brian said he was sad. He’d had to replace Dennis’ drumming on the record with [session drummer] Hal Blaine’s. It made him sad to have to tell Dennis.” As, the flip side of “Surfer Girl,” “Little Deuce Coupe” outdid “Shut Down” on the charts, making it the most popular 60s car song up to that time. It established the Beach Boys as a car, as well as a surfing, band. FOR THE RECORD: Brian Wilson made one interesting change to Christian’s poem which turned it into a strictly California tune. He added the line, “And one more thing, I got the pink slip, daddy.” Easterners thought a “pink slip daddy” was a car term they’d never heard. Actually, Wilson was referring to owning the car; in California, the pink slip is the ownership paper.