When was it recorded? Oct. 9-10, 1968
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
If the title didn’t tip you off, two monkeys mating in the road in Rishikesh, India, inspired Paul to pose this eternal musical question.
“I was up on the flat roof meditating and I’d seen a troupe of monkeys walking along in the jungle and a male just hopped on to the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me,’ and she looked around as if there had been some mild disturbance but thought, ‘Huh, I must have imagined it,’ and she wandered off. And I thought, bloody hell, that puts it all into a cocked hat, that’s how simple the act of procreation is, this bloody monkey just hopping on and hopping off. There is an urge, they do it, and it’s done with. And it’s that simple. We have horrendous problems with it, and yet animals don’t. So that was basically it. ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ could have applied to either fucking or shitting, to put it roughly. Why don’t we do either of them in the road? Well, the answer is we’re civilized and we don’t. …‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ was a primitive statement to do with sex or to do with freedom really. I like it, it’s just so outrageous that I like it.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
Quoth Alan Pollack, “The transcendent naughtiness of this song’s message could be said to have been socially redeemed at the time of its initial release by its cute, tongue-in-cheek delivery. By today’s very different standards, you might argue that the song survives by virtue of its being able to balance the same old equation in reverse; i.e. the over-the-top cuteness of delivery is excused by the underlying willingness to be naughty.”
Paul alone recorded five takes of “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road” on Oct. 9, 1968 while John and George were working on other White Album songs. Take Four appeared on 1996’s “Anthology 3.”
The following day Paul overdubbed vocals, handclaps, guitar and bass onto Take Five. John and George were once again busy (according to the Beatles Bible they were “supervising the string overdubs for ‘Piggies’ and ‘Glass Onion’”), but Ringo recorded handclaps and a drum part for the track.
I have fond memories of discovering this song in Junior High. I was pretty easily entertained back then. I’ll keep that story short and sweet, exactly like the song. (…Well, ‘sweet’ might be a stretch.)