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Novelty Song Friday #14 — “I’m in Love with my Car,” by Queen

Dedicated to Johnathan Harris, boy racer to the end.

Wikipedia says:
Night at the Opera is the fourth studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on November 21, 1975 by EMI Records in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker and Queen, it was reportedly the most expensive album ever recorded at the time of its release. The album’s title is taken from the Marx Brothers film of the same name.

A Night at the Opera was recorded at various studios across a four-month period in 1975. Due to management issues, Queen had received almost none of the money they earned for their previous albums. Subsequently, they ended their contract with Trident Studios and did not use their studios for the album (with the sole exception being “God Save the Queen”, which had been recorded the previous year). They employed a complex production that extensively used multi-track recording, and the songs incorporated a wide range of styles, such as ballads, music hall, dixieland, hard rock and progressive rock influences. Aside from their usual equipment, Queen also utilized a diverse range of instruments such as a double bass, harp, ukulele and more.

“I’m in Love with My Car” is among Roger Taylor’s most famous songs in the Queen catalogue. The song was initially taken as a joke by May, who thought that Taylor was not serious when he heard a demo recording. Taylor played the guitars in the original demo, but they were later re-recorded by May on his Red Special. The lead vocals were performed by Taylor on the studio version and all released live versions.

The lyrics were inspired by one of the band’s roadies, Johnathan Harris, whose Triumph TR4 was evidently the “love of his life”. The song is dedicated to him, the album says: “Dedicated to Johnathan Harris, boy racer to the end”.

From songfacts:
Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor wrote this song, sang on it and played drums on the track. Though it was dedicated to Queen roadie John Harris (“a boy racer to the end.”), there was still something autobiographical in this car-as-a-metaphor-for-sex song. “I’m not obsessed,” the Queen drummer told Mojo, “but I do love a good car.”

The engine noises on the recording of “I’m In Love With My Car” are authentic and come from the car Roger Taylor owned at the time. He described in a 1997 interview with Pop On The Line:

I remember my car at the time, because I think we’ve got the exhaust on the record, and that was a little Alfa Romeo. But I think it was more about people in general, for instance boy racers. In particular we had a sound guy/roadie at the time called Jonathan Harris, who was in love with his car, and that inspired that. I think he had a TR4, Triumph TR4.

Roger Taylor loved the song, and demanded it to be the B-side to Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” single – so much so that he apparently locked himself in a cupboard until Mercury agreed. Perhaps there was a good reason Taylor really wanted it to be the “Rhapsody” B-side – the song credit went completely to him, and when the single became a huge smash hit, he received almost equal royalties as Mercury did for “Rhapsody.”

This naturally rather annoyed the rest of the band! Songwriting credits and friction over royalties are a common reason why most bands break up. For this reason, Queen later in their career decided to give a collective co-writing credit for all songs, regardless of who contributed. This meant everyone got equal royalties for any singles/hits, which meant there was less friction with members more willing to let their songs/ideas be worked on – knowing they wouldn’t lose any credit or royalty money in the process.

 

 

Oh
The machine of a dream, such a clean machine
With the pistons a pumpin’, and the hubcaps all gleam
When I’m holding your wheel
All I hear is your gear
With my hand on your grease gun
Mmm, it’s like a disease, son
I’m in love with my car, gotta feel for my automobile
Get a grip on my boy racer roll bar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal

Told my girl I’ll have to forget her
Rather buy me a new carburetor
So she made tracks saying this is the end, now
Cars don’t talk back they’re just four wheeled friends now

When I’m holding your wheel
All I hear is your gear
When I’m cruisin’ in overdrive
Don’t have to listen to no run of the mill talk jive

I’m in love with my car (love with my car), gotta feel for my automobile
I’m in love with my car (love with my car), string back gloves in my automolove

Songwriters: Roger Meddows Taylor

18 thoughts on “Novelty Song Friday #14 — “I’m in Love with my Car,” by Queen

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it on the radio but it is one of my favorite tracks on the album- that was a nice change up with Roger Taylor singing– and the Marx Brother title!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. They certainly could have played it on the radio- and I may have heard it on the radio but I am certain the first time I heard it was on the album. .. any word on when they will let people into the library? We’ve been open limited hours- and still doing curbside. Haven’t been very busy.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. They are still doing curbside with no word when it will change. I got a call yesterday from them saying I had items waiting and wanted me to set up an appt to get them. Really? I asked if I could call when I’m coming over and see how busy they are they said ok. They’ve been swamped at certain times (just after opening and just before closing) which is why they want to set up appts. I do know that the 6 items I dropped off earlier this week are still showing me having them checked out.

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    1. I can see where living in a big city with ample public transport resources makes it possible. Especially in NYC I would think there are a lot of non-car owners. I would love to live in a place where everything I need is within walking or biking distance, including a farmer’s market. I also like their royalty sharing arrangement. All bands should have it. Maybe they would stick together longer if they did, but artists being who they are, maybe not.

      Liked by 1 person

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