" Drive " is the lead single and first track from American alternative rock band R.E.M.'s eighth studio album Automatic for the People in 1992. Although it was not as commercially successful as previous lead singles " Losing My Religion," " Stand," or " The One I Love " in the United States, it became R.E.M.'s then second biggest hit on the UK Singles Charts, peaking at #11. It managed a peak of #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song did hit number one on the Modern Rock Tracks and number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks.

Despite the success and popularity of the song, it was left out of the band's Warner Bros. Records "best of" compilation In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 . However, a live version of the song was included in the special edition two-disc set of In Time that included rarities, live versions, and B-sides. The version featured was the "funk" version, which has never been studio-recorded.

It is the first song Michael Stipe wrote on a computer.

The song is included on the 2003 live DVD Perfect Square , the 2007 live CD/DVD R.E.M. Live , and the 2009 live CD Live at The Olympia (and its accompanying DVD This Is Not a Show ). This song was also sampled in the song " Space Bound " by Eminem on his 2010 album Recovery .

B-side "Winged Mammal Theme" is a re-working of the " Batman Theme " originally intended to appear in Batman Returns ; the song went unused in the film's final version.


The title itself is derived from Stipe and R.E.M.'s support for what would eventually become the " Motor Voter Bill " and the lyric "Hey, kids, rock 'n' roll" is an homage to the song "Stop It" by fellow Athens, Georgia group Pylon ; Stipe has also said the song is an "obvious homage to ' Rock On' by David Essex," which features a similar line.

"The arrangement of 'Drive' was, in part, inspired by Queen," reported Scott Litt. " Pete and Mike are big Queen fans. Queen records, for all their bombast, sounded like each player had a personality."

Mike Mills has said "'Drive' is just telling kids to take charge of their own lives. [Pause.] Among other things." To Peter Buck: “It’s a subtle, political thing. Michael specifically mentions the term ‘bush-whacked’. But if you want to take it like ‘Stand’, that’s cool, too. You like to think that you can appreciate these songs on any level you want to. I have a lot of records I listen to when I’m just doing the dishes. Like Ride records. I really like Ride a lot. And I have no idea what the songs are about. And I really don’t care. I don’t even worry about it. Lyrics are the last thing I listen to, unless someone is hitting me over the head with it.”

Music video

The song's video, directed by Peter Care, was shot over two nights in late August 1992 at Sepulveda Dam in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles. "I remember Oliver Stone came," Michael Stipe said in 2001. "I was trying to get a film produced with him at the time. And River Phoenix came – we were friends. And Oliver had been drinking and they got into a fight in my trailer. It was fun to watch. And it kind of fuelled the energy that this video, from beginning to end, kind of carries through it."

Track listing

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe except as noted.

US 7", Cassette and CD single

  1. "Drive" – 4:25
  2. "Winged Mammal Theme" – 2:55

UK "Collector's Edition" CD Single

  1. "Drive" – 4:25
  2. "It's a Free World Baby" – 5:11
  3. "Winged Mammal Theme" – 2:55
  4. " First We Take Manhattan " ( Leonard Cohen) – 6:06

DE CD Maxi-Single

  1. "Drive" – 4:25
  2. " World Leader Pretend " – 4:15
  3. "Winged Mammal Theme" – 2:55

FR CD Maxi-Single

  1. "Drive" – 4:25
  2. "World Leader Pretend" – 4:15
  3. "First We Take Manhattan" – 6:06

UK and DE 7" and Cassette Single

  1. "Drive" – 4:25
  2. "World Leader Pretend" – 4:15


Preceded by
" Blood Makes Noise " by Suzanne Vega
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
October 17, 1992 - November 14, 1992
Succeeded by
" These Are Days " by 10,000 Maniacs