Why Don’t We Do It In The Road - The Beatles

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"Why Don’t We Do It In The Road" - The Beatles (1968)

McCartney was inspired to write "Why Don’t We Do It In The Road" after watching a pair of monkeys during their stay in India fornicating.

In his autobiography, he writes: 

“I was up on a flat roof meditating and I’d see a troupe of monkeys walking along and the male just hopped onto her back and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say, ‘it wasn’t me,’ and she looked around as if there had been some kind of mild disturbance but thought, huh, I must have imagined it. And I thought, bloody hell, that puts it all into a cocked hat, that’s how simple the act of procreation is, this bloody monkey just hopping on and off. There is an urge, they do it, and it’s done with. It’s that simple.”

McCartney -accompanied only by Ringo on the drums—overdubbed all of the instruments himself playing his bass, acoustic and electric guitar- and piano. Set to a driving beat- with hand claps, staccato drumming and a frugging piano all played by McCartney, the song turns out to be a simple joke that rewards the listener time and time again, from its intro clapping to McCartney’s final abrupt twisting of the title.

McCartney modifies his husk “Elvis Presley voice” to achieve the effect of a country blues shouter. However the musical style is less surprising than the song’s crudely sexual theme.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack describes the track as a self-consciously “heavy” blues flavor that dominates both the tune and the chord choices. He cites how it features minimalistic (albeit vividly colorful) content, stick-figure form, outrageous-giddy attitude, and is sequenced in a context where it provides some kind of comic relief.

Pollack says:

“By today’s very different standards, you might argue that the song survives by virtue of its being able to balance the same old equation in reverse; i.e. the over-the-top cuteness.”

Commenting on the narrator’s words, Ken Womack writes:

“McCartney presents an intriguing contradiction about the nature of human modest. On the one hand, the speaker beckons his mate to join him in an uninhibited bout of sexual exhibitionism, while on the other, he sees fit to reassure her (and perhaps even himself) that “no one will be watching us / Why don’t we do it in the road?”

The song’s deeper meaning is that modesty is yet another moral summit between two immoral valleys. The modest person maintains proper feelings toward his or her public appearance.

Professor James Spiegel points out that Too be too public with one’s body is to be shameless, and to go to the other extreme is bashfulness. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road describes something shameless but which might itself be shameless.”

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