Baby Driver – Unraveling the Metaphoric Highways of a Classic Tune


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Simon & Garfunkel's Baby Driver at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Family Band: Harmonies of Heritage
  5. On the Run: The Lure of the Open Road
  6. The Interlude of Innocence: Military Ties and Missed Chances
  7. Behind Closed Doors: The Whisper of Sexual Exploration
  8. The Poignant Pause: Digging for the Deeper Drive

Lyrics

My daddy was the family bassman
My mamma was an engineer
And I was born one dark gray morn
With music coming in my ears
In my ears

They call me Baby Driver
And once upon a pair of wheels
I hit the road and I’m gone
What’s my number
I wonder how your engines feel
Ba ba ba ba
Scoot down the road
What’s my number
I wonder how your engines feel
Shine a light, ooo ooo oo, ooo ooo oo

My daddy was a prominent frogman
My mamma’s in the Naval reserve
When I was young I carried a gun
But I never got the chance to serve
I did not serve

They call me Baby Driver
And once upon a pair of wheels
I hit the road and I’m gone
What’s my number
I wonder how your engines feel
Ba ba ba ba
Scoot down the road
What’s my number
I wonder how your engines feel

Ba ba ba ba, mmm ba ba ba ba

My daddy got a big promotion
My mamma got a raise in pay
There’s no one home, we’re all alone
Oh come into my room and play
Yes we can play

I’m not talking about your pigtails
But I’m talking ’bout your sex appeal
I hit the road and I’m gone
What’s my number

I wonder how your engines feel
Ba ba ba ba
Scoot down the road
What’s my number
I wonder how your engines feel

To oo ooo to oo ooo to oo ooo oo ooo oo ooo oo ooo

Full Lyrics

The road of life is often littered with signs, signals, and songs that attempt to articulate the complicated human journey. Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Baby Driver,’ a track off their seminal album ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ is such a song—mysterious yet familiar, its lyrics are a tapestry of early life, ambition, and the search for one’s identity amidst the vibrations of familial influence.

To the untrained ear, ‘Baby Driver’ may seem like a foot-tapping tune that excavates a layer of nostalgia and simplicity. But beneath its melodic hum and rhythmic strums, there lies a deeper narrative, exploring themes of personal history, freedom, and sexual awakening. Let’s shift gears and drive into the heart of this track’s enduring resonance.

The Family Band: Harmonies of Heritage

The song skates onto the scene with a familial foundation, indicating the roots of rhythm and routine. ‘My daddy was the family bassman; My mamma was an engineer’ sings Paul Simon, illustrating a childhood backdrop where music and method converge. There’s a sense that this environment, painted in monochrome grays of a ‘dark gray morn,’ is the crucible in which the identity of our proverbial ‘Baby Driver’ is forged—a space where the genetic melodies intersect with engineered pathways.

More than just a personal history, these lines speak to the essence of inheritance—how the roles and professions of our parents delineate our own roads before we ever grip the wheel. The song challenges us to consider the pressures of lineage; it questions the presence of destiny versus the thrill of deviating from the charted course.

On the Run: The Lure of the Open Road

The chorus bursts in with a free-wheeling spirit: ‘They call me Baby Driver, And once upon a pair of wheels, I hit the road and I’m gone.’ This is the anthem of the nomadic soul, one for whom the thrill of motion overshadows the destination. There’s an undeniable romanticism to this image—the protagonist propelled by an impulse to flee the familiar by any conveyance available.

What’s intriguing is the enigmatic refrain, ‘What’s my number, I wonder how your engines feel.’ Here we find a dual call-and-response: the character’s existential query to himself about identity and also a sensual curiosity extended outward. The repetition of the lines suggests a search for validation and understanding, be it from within oneself or from the external stimuli one experiences on the journey.

The Interlude of Innocence: Military Ties and Missed Chances

Simon’s voice conveys with delicate irony, ‘When I was young I carried a gun, But I never got the chance to serve, I did not serve.’ These lines are a poignant nod to the passageway of youth—how aspirations are formed under the shadow of predecessors (in this case, a ‘prominent frogman’ and a mother in the ‘Naval reserve’). It speaks to the untouched potential, the pathways untraveled, and the rites of passage unfulfilled.

In the larger context of the album and era, this could also reflect the tension surrounding the Vietnam War and conscription. The character’s disconnect from his parents’ military involvement could echo the broader societal conflict of the time, emphasizing a rebellious disengagement from institutional or familial expectations.

Behind Closed Doors: The Whisper of Sexual Exploration

The lyrics transition into exploring a different form of driving—’Oh come into my room and play, Yes we can play.’ Suddenly, the groundwork laid by familial roles and the exhilaration of the road converges into a more private domain. The tone undulates, implying the bedroom as another vehicle of exploration, of adolescence shifting gears into adulthood.

The game changes from the innocence of play to the insinuated maturity of sex appeal—an awakening distinct yet entwined with the other themes of autonomy and individual growth. The verse cradles the listener in a recognition of universal experience—the negotiation of desire, the intimate collaboration between individuals discovering mutual rhythms.

The Poignant Pause: Digging for the Deeper Drive

As the song reaches its latter stages, the music takes a momentary breather, the ‘Ba ba ba ba’ serving as a meditative pit stop. Here, in the absence of words, is space for listeners to ponder the unspoken. What drives us in our youth? Is it the pursuit of pleasure, the craving for connection, or the allure of undesignated roads?

It’s in the lacuna of ‘Baby Driver’ that we find its hidden meaning—an invitation to reflect on our own engines of ambition. Ultimately, the song is not just a tune but a mirror. With each listen, it seems to ask anew, ‘What’s your number?’ urging a generation to tune into the music that propels them forward, to listen for the harmony within the cacophony of life’s highway.

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