Depeche Mode

Behind the Wheel

Composed by Martin Gore

Song Review by

Despite all of its imagery of driving and being a passenger, its opening sample of a wheel falling off a car, and its hypnotic beat symbolic of a car gliding down a roadway, "Behind the Wheel" isn't really about automobiles at all. It's a classic song of sexual submission or of just giving in to another person's control over any aspect of one's life. Martin Gore's favorite subject has proven to be relationships, and "Behind the Wheel" blends a little bit of bondage and a little bit of codependence to make for a quintessential Depeche Mode song. David Gahan seems completely and perfectly exhausted emotionally, singing "Do what you want; I don't care tonight/I hand myself over on a plate." He goes on to offer, "I prefer you behind the wheel/And me the passenger." The ravishing beat and high-tech synth sounds that engulf Gahan's voice suggest he's looking for love as long as he doesn't have to be the one in control. He wants "[his] little girl [to] come pull [his] strings." "Behind the Wheel" shares a sonic and thematic resemblance to "Never Let Me Down Again." Where the latter sees escape in drugs, the former finds similar comfort in giving up one's free will to a lover. A stylish promotional video for the song directed by Anton Corbijn was released in 1987.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1985 Warner Reprise Video 5:35
Music for the Masses 1987 Rhino / Sire 5:18
Strangelove 1987 Sire
I Want You Now 1988 Arista
101: Live 1989 Rhino
101 [Video] 1989 Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution
No Image 1990 Antilles
X1 Disc 2: The Twelve Inches (Zwei) 1991 Arista 7:59
Devotional 1993 Rhino
The Singles 86>98 1998 EMI
Videos 1986-1998 1998 Warner Bros.
The Singles 81>98 2001 Sony Music
Videos 86>98+ 2002 Mute
Collateral Damage: Complete War Series 2003
Various Artists
Season Of Mist 5:06
Singles Box, Vol. 4 2004 Reprise / Mute/Reprise 5:57
101/Amaray 2005 Mute
The Work of Director Anton Corbijn [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Touring the Angel: Live in Milan 2006 Mute
The Best Of, Vol. 1 2006 Reprise / Sire/Reprise/Mute
No Image 2007 Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution
Tour of the Universe: Barcelona 20/21.11.09 2010 EMI / Mute
Tour of the Universe: Barcelona 20/21.11.09 2010 Capitol
Touring the Angel: Live in Milan Reprise
blue highlight denotes editor's pick