The Beach Boys


Song Review by

Although they are known primarily as a surf group, the Beach Boys were just as adept at doing hot rod tunes. The lyrics to this Wilson/Usher collaboration, inspired by Usher's real-life teenage car obsessions, tell a first-person tale of saving money to buy the dream automobile of the title. To pass muster with real-life gear heads, Wilson and Usher also throw in a few automotive terms like "Dual-quad" and "posi-traction" near the end of the song. The melody of the song is simple but tuneful pop that becomes something special in the Beach Boys' recording, thanks to Brian Wilson's inventive vocal arrangement. For instance, this arrangement transforms a simple line like "She's real fine, my 409" into something anthemic by subjecting it to a bright, complex set of interlaced vocal harmonies. The instrumentation lacks the color of later Brian Wilson productions, but features a nice guitar solo from Carl Wilson at the midway point. Their recording also makes inventive use of revving car sound effects that the group recorded themselves. The end result became a minor chart hit and a live standard for the group. "409" also became something of a standard for hot rod groups, appearing as a cover on albums by the Rip-Chords and the Challengers. The Beach Boys would soon progress to more memorable hot rod fare, like "Little Deuce Coupe," but "409" provided a solid foundation for the entry into the world of hot rod pop.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Surfin' Safari 1962 Analogue Productions
No Image 1963
Various Artists
Capitol / EMI
Little Deuce Coupe 1963 Forced Exposure / Rumble Records
No Image 1967 Capitol
No Image 1968 Capitol
Spirit of America 1975 Capitol 2:00
No Image 1978
No Image 1983 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1985 Pioneer
Made in U.S.A. 1986 Capitol
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: The Beach Boys - 1962-1967 1988 1:59
Surfin' Safari/Surfin' U.S.A. 1990 K-Tel 2:01
Little Deuce Coupe/All Summer Long 1990 Capitol 2:01
Monster Summer Hits: Drag City 1991
Various Artists
No Image 1991 Capitol
The Best of the Hot Rod Hits 1992
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets
No Image 1993 Pair
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:09
Greatest Hits [Hollywood] 1994 Deluxe
Hot Rod Music's Greatest 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:00
Stars and Stripes, Vol. 1 1996 Disky 2:21
Hot Rod: Rev It Up 1997
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 1:57
Nashville Sounds: Making of Stars & Stripes [Intersound Video] 1998 Intersound
Hot Rod Box Set 1999
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 2:00
Capitol Years 1999 EMI Music Distribution 1:58
Legendary Hot Rod Hits, Vol. 1-3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 1:57
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1999 Capitol 2:00
Legendary Hot Rod Hits 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc
Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2003 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:00
The Warmth of the Sun 2006 Capitol/EMI Records 2:00
Forever Beach Boys 2007 Madacy 2:00
U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years 1962-1965 2008 Capitol 2:27
No Image 2008 Mixed Repertoire 2:00
Surf Music Hits [ZYX] 2010
Various Artists
ZYX 2:00
The  Beach Boys 50: Live in Concert [Video] 2012 Universal
Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary 2012 Blast / SMC Records
Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour 2013 Capitol 1:52
No Image 2013 Blue Playa Records 2:01
Made in California 2013 Capitol 2:09
5 Classic Albums 2013 Capitol 1:57
Live in Chicago, 1965 2015 Capitol / Universal 2:26
Greatest Surf Hits [ZYX] 2016 Silver Star Records / ZYX / ZYX Music 2:01
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 1:54
No Image Capitol 1:58
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 1:55
No Image K-Tel 1:55
Golden Oldies Hit Series, Vol. 34
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 1:54
No Image Spectrum Music
Let's Go Surfin: The Birth of Surf
Various Artists
Jasmine Records 2:00
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