Driver's Seat by Sniff 'n' the Tears - Songfacts

Driver's Seat

Album: Fickle Heart (1978)
Charted: 42 15


  • The song is not really about the joys of driving, according to the official Sniff 'n' the Tears website. Rather, it is about the fragmented, conflicting emotions that occur after the end of a relationship. The line, "The news is blue. I'll never remember my time with you," points out the difficulty of imagining never being with the significant other again. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Charles - Charlotte, NC
  • An early version of this song was demoed back in 1973 by singer/guitarist Paul Roberts' then-band Ashes of Moon for a French label. However, that band broke up and, at the suggestion of drummer Luigi Salvoni, Roberts reformed it as Sniff 'n' the Tears with guitarists Laurence "Loz" Netto and Mick Dyche, and bassist Chris Birkin. They shopped the demo tape and signed with the London indie label Chiswick in 1977.

    Released as a single, "Driver's Seat" was a relative failure in their home country, but more successful in the US where it reached #15 on the Hot 100 in August 1979. "It was a pretty massive hit everywhere apart from Britain," reflected Roberts to Mojo March 2011. "Britain is perverse in some respects, but it did get a lot of radio play. We were accused of ripping off Dire Straits. I never understood that, but I think it was more that we were different to the post-punk scene."

    Any potential break at home was derailed by outside factors. "We did Top of the Pops as a last-minute replacement for the Gang of Four, they wouldn't go on for some political reason," recalled Roberts to Mojo. The following week the EMI pressing plant (where Chiswick's records were manufactured), went on strike and you couldn't buy 'Driver's Seat' for four or five weeks."
  • Sniff 'n' the Tears consistently found an audience outside Britain - in the USA and continental Europe - until they quit in 1983. They reformed in 1992 after Driver's Seat featured in a Dutch TV ad for Pioneer Stereos.
  • The BBC DJ Steve Wright has called this song his all-time favorite record.

Comments: 29

  • Lucia from New JerseyThis is an excellent song about a break-up. Also a great uplift for those who are down or has doubts. One of my favorite lines of the lyrics is:
    "Pick up your feet
    You've got to move to the trick of the beat
    There is no elite
    Just take your place in the driver's seat"

    To me that is one of key notes in the song.
  • AnonymousThe song was about my ex.
  • Steven from Los AngelesI agree it's about the end of a relationship. That's pretty clear. But I think more specifically it's about the death or loss of a spouse. "On trouble and strife, she had another way of looking at life." "Trouble and strife" is Cockney slang for "wife." I think Tezza From Oz makes a good stab at it, but I disagree. It's not a hooker. It's his wife. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what's meant by "there is no elite."
  • Rich from Newton N.j.Al is correct. The lyric is jiving on a Saturday night.
  • Tezza From Oz from Sydney AustralaiJenny is a hooker,"Jenny was sweet, She always smiled for the people she'd meet", he only gets to see her when he buys time, gets in the "Drivers seat". He is in love with her but can never be with her completely. "What can I do?,I'll never remember my time with you" He has to face the facts, Pick up your feet
    Got to move to the trick of the beat
    There is no elite
    Just take your place in the driver's seat
  • Jephrey from U.s.a.+Paul Romano

    Yes it does........
  • Jephrey from U.s.a.Does anyone know who the chick with the legs is, from the video, "Driver's Seat? Is she the same chick, that is on the back of the album, "fickle heart", who is trying to hide herself out in the elevator?
  • Yvonne from Eatonville, Wa UsaThank you, Don!!!
  • Don from St LouisThe back-up singer is Noel McCalla - he went on to sing lead for Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
  • Yvonne from Eatonville, Wa UsaCan anyone tell me who the black guy is that is singing backup in the video for 'Driver's Seat'? Thank you.
  • Scott from Ohio UsaDave. The person playing the Moog synthesizer on the song is Keith Miller. He worked with Rick Wakeman in the early synth days (among others). The band also had a regular keyboardist (Alan Fealdman) who also plays on the song but I believe the parts you are referring to (solo etc.) are Miller's
  • David Fields from UsaWho was the keyboardist for this song. To some slight extent it sounds like Rick Wakeman's tonality, though without the elaborate fingering.
  • Al from Dayton, OhThese lyrics are often misheard. If you look at the lyrics sites, they're almost all wrong. Here's the song straight from the band's site:

    We're doing alright
    a little jiving on a Saturday night
    come what may
    gonna dance the day away

    Jenny was sweet
    she always smile for the people she meet
    on trouble and strife
    she had another way of looking at life

    The news is blue
    it has it's own way to get to you
    what can I do?
    I'll never remember my time with you

    So pick up your feet
    got to move to the trick of the beat
    there is no elite
    just take your place in the driver's seat.

    What's not to love about this song! Catchy melody, driving beat, trippy synthesizer, anchoring Rhodes piano, great backing vocals (Oo-oo! Yeaah!). This song has it all!
  • Paul Romano from Kalamazoo, MiOne other comment, does this song open with an acoustic guitar and the lead singer is playing electric?
  • Paul Romano from Kalamazoo, MiOK my mind might be slipping, but I definitely remember this song being a huge hit in the US in '79... those were days of fast cars, game rooms, and getting out of the house any way you could. Nowadays people are always home chatting on social media, back then you had to DRIVE to escape.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 15th 1979, "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'n' the Tears entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; and on September 23rd, 1979 it peaked at #15 (for 2 weeks) and also spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #8 in the Netherlands and #17 in Canada...
    Was the sextet's only Top 100 record...
    When re-released in 1991 it peaked at #1 in the Netherlands.
  • Sandy from Enterprise, Fl"Doin' alright, a little drivin' on a Saturday night."
  • Brian from Boston, MaThree chords my friends B minor A and G. Very enjoyable to just strum on the acoustic.Perhaps after enjoying some marijuana? I'm just sayin'
  • Rick from El Paso, TxI saw the band in concert with billy squier back in the early eighties, this song was the only reason i went to the concert. I'd forgotten it until I saw Boogie Nights and the digital media age made it possible to collect these single hit gems.
  • Paul from Kennewick, WaThis my VERY favorite driving song, coming out when I got my drivers' licence at age 16. It's kinda cool because the video was shot in and around Vancouver, BC, and I was then in Victoria, where I grew up. My new life took me to the United States, but here's to Constable "Ticket Bob" Vallance, then of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wherever you are now-ya never caught me booting the pedal to the floor on this one dude!
  • Rick from Navarre, FlThis song is played during the Lincoln Motor Cars latest commercials as the background music (2010 models).
  • Lisa from Melrose, WiThis Rocks!!! I'll never forget its release-I ran to the store after school and bought it-and played it and played it and played it-
  • 5cats from Winnipeg, MbDon-KY ditto for "Last Days Of May" by Blue Oyster Cult, also featured prominently in CARRIER series, also over 30 lolz! Driver's Seat is a great tune. "A little driving on a Saturday night..." simple yet brilliant!
  • Don from B G, KyThe song DRIVER'S SEAT is used in the documentary CARRIER (2008). CARRIER is a 10 hour film about life aboard the aircaft carrier USS Nimitz. The song DRIVER'S SEAT is in the 2nd hour of the series at the 10 minute mark. It is used when fighter jets are being launched off the flight deck and it ROCKS. Great use of a song from 1978, 30 years later.
  • Jeff from Austin, TxDriver's Seat!! Yeeahhhhh!! I had never heard it before until I saw Boogie Nights. I immediately found out who it was and had to have it!! Great song!
  • Sarah from Thousand Oaks, CaThis song is a great one! Not often heard but always a pleaser!!
    -Sarah, Camarillo, Ca.
  • Reffa from Suffolk, UkThe Bass player on this particular song (Chris Birkin) now works as a maths teacher at a secondary school in suffolk, UK.
  • Donovan from Sacramento, CaThis song was featuring in the 1997 blockbuster hit, "Boogie Nights" when they are celebrating New Year's Eve at Jack Horner's mansion and Colonel James and Floyd Gondolli enter the home. Definitely a classic moment.
  • Caroline from Zeewolde , NetherlandsDriver's Seat became a hit a number of times in several European countries because the song was used for a couple of tv-commercials for new carmodels and caraudiosystems. For exemple: driver's Seat went number one in the Dutch charts in 1991; 13 years after it's release.
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