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 Capitol / EMI Records 2:01
No Image 1967 Capitol
No Image 1968 Capitol
Spirit of America 1975 DCC Compact Classics 2:05
No Image 1983 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1985 Pioneer
Made in U.S.A. 1986 Capitol 0:00
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: The Beach Boys - 1962-1967 1988 1:59
Surfin' Safari/Surfin' U.S.A. 1990 Capitol / EMI Records 2:00
Little Deuce Coupe/All Summer Long 1990 Capitol / EMI Records 2:01
Monster Summer Hits: Drag City 1991
Various Artists
Capitol 0:00
Car & Driver: Greatest Car Songs and Other Lost Treasures of the Road 1992
Various Artists
Compose Records 2:00
Greatest Car Songs 1992 Collectables 1:59
The Best of the Hot Rod Hits 1992
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol / EMI Records 2:09
Greatest Hits [Hollywood] 1994 Hollywood / IMG 2:24
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:00
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 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 1:57
Legendary Hot Rod Hits, Vol. 1-3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 1:57
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1999 Capitol 2:00
The Warmth of the Sun 2006 Capitol / EMI Records 2:00
U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years 1962-1965 2008 Capitol 2:27
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Capitol / EMI
Made in California 2013 Capitol / Universal 2:09
Surf Club [Original Surf & Beach Hits]
Various Artists
10Ten Media / Zebralution