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"Pink Cadillac"
Single by Natalie Cole
from the album Everlasting
Released 1988
Format 7" single, 12" single
Genre R & B
Length 4:12
Label EMI Manhattan
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer Dennis Lambert
Natalie Cole singles chronology
"I Live For Your Love"
(1988)
"Pink Cadillac"
(1988)
"When I Fall in Love"
(1988)

"Pink Cadillac" is a 1984 humorous rockabilly song by Bruce Springsteen. It is most known as a Top 10 hit single in 1988, recorded in R&B fashion by Natalie Cole. It is notable for its similarity to the Peter Gunn Theme by Henry Mancini in its main riff and saxophone break (incidentally, Springsteen sax player Clarence Clemons plays on a version of the song recorded for the soundtrack to the film Porky's Revenge in 1985).

Contents

History

Springsteen was inspired as a seven-year-old by seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show, so it was only fitting that Elvis's Pink Cadillac entered into Springsteen's music world. "Pink Cadillac" continued his well-known obsession with car imagery in songs. It was his second song about the brand, 1980's "Cadillac Ranch" being the first.

Like songs of the Dirty Blues genre, the lyrics to the song feature a number of double entendre. The pink cadillac of the title and other images in the song take on sexualized meaning that add a layer of humorous complexity to Springsteen's lyrics, hearkening to a longer tradition of sexual imagery common in the roots of rock and roll:[1]

But my love is better than a Honda
It's better than a Subaru
Hey man there's only one thing
And one car that'll do
Anyway we don't have to drive it
Honey we can park it out in back
And have a party in your pink Cadillac"[2]

"Pink Cadillac" was first recorded by Springsteen in a stark acoustic version in early January 1982, part of a session that later became the Nebraska album.[3] He pulled it out again in May 1983, during the sessions for the Born in the U.S.A. album; putting together a quick demo after most of the crew had left a session. He started strumming the riff on an acoustic guitar, put down the basic track, and then recorded the rest of it with the band in the morning. It was on the short list for inclusion on the album, until it was bumped in favor of "I'm Going Down".

Instead, it was released as the B-side of the album's first and biggest hit single, "Dancing in the Dark".

It later appeared as one of two songs (along with "Cover Me") on a CD3 released in 1988. It did not appear on any Springsteen album until the late 1990s outtakes-and-B-sides collections Tracks and 18 Tracks.

Natalie Cole's rendition was a #5 Billboard Hot 100 pop hit in 1988. It was also a #5 UK Singles Chart pop hit across the Atlantic.[4] It also was a #16 Adult Contemporary hit, and topped the Dance chart. In fact, the 1988 version that was a pop hit was a dance-oriented remix to begin with, compared to what was on her 1987 Everlasting album.[5]. However when Cole's 2001 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 album was released, the original Everlasting version of "Pink Cadillac" was the one chosen, to the disappointment of many reviewers.[6]

Rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins recorded a version of "Pink Cadillac" on his album Friends, Family & Legends of 1992.

In 2001, AOL would not let users quote this in a Springsteen discussion group because they felt the lyrics were too suggestive.

In 2006, Bruce Springsteen was featured on a recording of "Pink Cadillac" by Jerry Lee Lewis on his album Last Man Standing.

Track listings

7-inch single

12-inch single

  1. Pink Cadillac (Club vocal) — 7:36
  2. I Wanna Be That Woman (12" Version) — 5:20
  3. Pink Cadillac (7" Version) - 4:12

A variety of other 12-inch remixes were also released, all done by David Cole and Robert Clivillés of C+C Music Factory. She also released a UK-only "Motorway Mixes" of "Pink Cadillac" combined with her earlier hit "Jump Start".

Live performance history

"Pink Cadillac" was frequently played on Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's landmark 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour. It was used as a second-set comic relief number, elongated to include a low-budget skit involving Springsteen as a Jimmy Swaggert-style televangelist, alternating with a sleazy used-car dealer, describing the history of "the conflict between worldly things and spiritual health", using a wheeled-out blackboard to locate the Garden of Eden, first in Mesopotamia, but later discovered to actually be "ten miles south of Jersey City, off the New Jersey Turnpike." The story of Adam and Eve was altered to include their heretofore unknown exit strategy: "But right here on this back lot — for $9995 and no money down — I've got their getaway car. And if you've got the nerve to ride! son, I've got the keys ... to the first ... pink Cadillac!" Since that tour, however, "Pink Cadillac" essentially disappeared from the Springsteen repertoire, being performed less than ten times. Springsteen most recently performed the song at a concert in Washington, D.C. on November 2, 2009. The song was requested by fans and chosen by Springsteen as part of a Springsteen tradition where Springsteen collects signs suggesting songs to be played from fans in the front rows and then chooses a few of those songs (not otherwise on the setlist) to be played.

By the 2000s, Natalie Cole sometimes dropped the song from her concert set list as well[7] and at other times combined the song with lyrics from Aretha Franklin's 1985 hit "Freeway of Love".[8].

Originally released on the album Killbilly Hill and again on their greatest hits album, 1980s country/rock band, Southern Pacific has a live recording of "Pink Cadillac".

Not to be confused with ...

This is a different "Pink Cadillac" from the 1950s rockabilly "Pink Cadillac" by Sammy Masters.

The Natalie Cole recording of "Pink Cadillac" is sometimes confused with Aretha Franklin's 1985 hit "Freeway of Love", which was not written by Springsteen but did feature a prominent saxophone part by Springsteen sideman Clarence Clemons.

References

Further reading

Preceded by
"Don't Look Any Further" by Kane Gang
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
April 9, 1988 - April 16, 1988
Succeeded by
"Prove Your Love" by Taylor Dayne







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