Car Tunes: Hey Little Cobra
The Rip Chords

With Carroll Shelby’s passing, this week’s Car Tunes is devoted to the car that made him a legend and a song that helped make that same car a legend as well. After the success of the Beach Boys’ “409” and Shut Down in late 1962 and early 1963, copycat muscle car songs started appearing. Credited to the Rip Chords, Hey Little Cobra was produced by Terry Melcher (actress Doris Day’s son who later produced albums by Paul Revere & The Raiders as well as The Byrds) and Bruce Johnston (who later joined the Beach Boys), with that duo taking the lead vocals and the members of the Rip Chords doing the backup singing. It’s essentially a copy of the Beach Boys’ and Jan & Dean’s surf harmonies with more than a little owed to the melody and structure Brian Wilson’s Surf City. Wilson and Jan Berry didn’t mind too much as they would both write songs for the Rip Chords. Hey Little Cobra is distinctive for the fact that the phrase “shut ’em down” is sung 21 times in two and a half minutes. Like most hot rod songs, it mentions other cars, in this case a Cadillac, a Stingray and an XKE. Unlike many hot rod songs, it’s not about street racing because the Cadillac is mentioned towing the Cobra to the track.

Lyrics after the jump.

Hey, Little Cobra
Don’t you know
You’re gonna shut’em down

I took my Cobra down to the track
Hitched to the back of my Cadillac
Everyone was there just a waiting for me
There were plenty of Stingrays and XKEs

Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Hey, little Cobra
Don’t you know
You’re gonna shut’em down

When the flag went down
You could hear rubber burn
The Stingray had me going into the turn
I hung a big shift and I got into high
And then I flew by the Stingray
I waved bye-bye

Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Hey, little Cobra
Don’t you know
You’re gonna shut’em down

Around the far turn
In the straight-away
I was blowing off everything
That got in my way
The Stingrays and Jags
Were so far behind
I took my Cobra out of gear
And I coast to the line

Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Spring little Cobra
Getting ready to strike
Spring little Cobra
With all of your might
Hey, little Cobra
Don’t you know
You’re gonna shut’em down
Shut’em down
Shut’em down
Shut’em down
Shut’em down

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