Persuasion is an art. Over the ages, human beings have attempted to develop, refine and perfect their ability to articulate their message deftly in the best convincing way possible. Sophisticated poems, complex parables and entire novels were written plainly to convey an idea through all forms of literary and poetic devices. However, as the Beatles’ song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” shows, sometimes a brief, straightforward message would suffice to generate a compelling message.
Unlike other textually longer songs by the Beatles, the song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” consists of solely two reiterating lines during less than two minutes in length: the line “Why don’t we do it in the road” is repeated fifteen times, and “No one will be watching us” is repeated three times. This is certainly an uncommon lyrical structure of a song, whose sheer unusual simplicity is what makes it so intriguing and, of course, entertaining. Whereas the listeners might have initially expected a comprehensive explanation or reasoning to answer the query of the song’s title, the repetitive two lines create a strong sense of irony that leaves the quandary of the song’s speaker unanswered.
Shallow or Deep?
On the surface, the song may seem like a presumable shallow pleading of a man to engage in some sort of sexual intercourse with a woman while they are on the road. After all, he does inquire multiple times why they should not do it and even justify it by stating that nobody will watch them doing it. Nevertheless, there is a deeper way to interpret the song. The speaker may address the hypocrisy of conservative values – if both people involved want to enjoy each other’s physical act of love no matter where they are and while they do not bother anyone, why should old orthodox principles prevent them from doing so? Hence, the song is not only about a desirous beseeching of a man from a woman, but it is also an indirect act of defiance against obsolete hypocritical conventions of society.
An important element of the song is the changing tone of the singer, Paul McCartney. Throughout the song, McCartney sounds increasingly more astonished and even desperate when he repeats the same lines. His growing bewilderment in the song can be divided into three verses; each one includes four lines of “Why don’t we do it in the road,” one line of “No one will be watching us,” immediately followed by another line of “Why don’t we do it in the road.” The emotionality in the singer’s voice rises between verse to verse and, in addition, inside each verse itself. Ultimately, the singer’s tone culminates in the last couple of lines, and thereafter the song ends abruptly. The vocalized aspect of the song illustrates the gradually amplifying frustration and despair of the speaker, and the sudden ending enhances even furthermore those sentiments as his confounded question remains open.
An interesting point to explore is the gender-based issues that the song raises. The song’s speaker is a man who presumably addresses his spouse. It is unclear if the song intends to represent a personal approach toward a particular woman or if it generally appeals to women to be more open about sexual relations. It is possible that the song hints that women avoid participating in sexual activities due to fear of society’s reproachful response, which the speaker tries to bypass by elucidating that nobody will know.
Alternatively, the song could simply depict the hopeless behavior of men when they desire to have sex with women. In this case, men’s demeanor could be seen as obsessive and demeaning. Since the woman’s point of view is not presented at all and the man’s perspective is only presented in two short lines, the gender-based effects of the song are wide open to individual interpretation of the listeners.
The song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” by the Beatles proves that it is possible to convey a notion or an idea through a couple of concise lines. The insistent forthright appeals to the addressee, apparently the speaker’s spouse, produce an ironical sentiment that is intensified progressively with the singer’s despondent tone.
Additionally, the song evokes the listeners’ personal views and commentary on gender-related topics. Lastly, the song inescapably leaves the listeners with their own personal contemplation on the possible merits and drawbacks of doing it on the road, if no one will watch them, of course.