Album: Midnight Ride (1966)
Charted: 4


  • This might be the first anti-drug rock song. It finds lead singer Mark Lindsay telling a girl that drugs won't fill the emptiness inside her, and she needs to get straight before it's too late. "Kicks" in the song is a stand-in for "drugs."

    The last thing most teenagers wanted to hear was another warning about the dangers of drugs, but this song didn't come off preachy - it sounded more like a honest concern from friend than the finger wagging of an authority figure.
  • This was written by the husband-and-wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who were in their mid-20s at the time but already established songwriters, with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" among their credits. They also wrote the Animals hit "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"; when producer Terry Melcher went to work on the Paul Revere & the Raiders album Midnight Ride, he asked Mann and Weil for a similar song. They sent him "Kicks," which they had originally written hoping it would help get a friend off drugs.

    Terry Melcher started working with the group after doing production work on The Byrds' first two albums. In 1968, he rented his house to director Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate. Melcher knew Charles Manson and worked with him on some projects before abandoning them. In 1969, Manson's "family" killed Tate and four of her friends in Melcher's house. Melcher became much more secluded after the murders, but did help write The Beach Boys 1987 hit "Kokomo." He died of cancer in 2004.
  • This was the first Top 10 hit for Paul Revere & the Raiders, who were famous for performing while dressed in American Revolutionary War soldier uniforms.
  • Many kids played this in their garage bands, often unaware that it was an anti-drug song. Ace Frehley of Kiss, who covered it on his 2020 album Origins Vol. 2, told Songfacts: "When I was a kid, I used to come home from school and they'd be on TV. I was exposed to their music, and I always liked the song 'Kicks' because it had a great riff. Now that I listen to the lyrics, I realize that it's a really good anti-drug song, and it's a good message for the youth of today."

    Other artists to cover the song include The Monkees, Flamin' Groovies and Everclear.
  • "Kicks" shows up in The Simpsons episode "Marge Gamer" (2007), and in the 1987 movie He's My Girl.

Comments: 30

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 19, 1966, Paul Revere and the Raiders performed "Kicks" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in it's week on Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #62, eight weeks later it would peak at #4 {for 1 week} and it spent fifteen weeks on the Top 100...
    And on May 2nd, 1966 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the group also performed "Baby Please Don't Go", the song was track four on side one from the band's four studio album, 'Just Like Us!', and the album peak at #5 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Two tracks from the album made the Top 100 chart, "Steppin' Out" {at #46} and "Just Like Me" {at #11}...
    Between 1961 and 1973 the band had twenty-four records on the Top 100 chart, five made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Indian Reservation", for one week in 1971...
    For their last seven Top 100 records they were simply known as 'The Raiders'...
    Leader Paul Revere, born Paul Revere Dick, passed away at the age of 76 on October 4th, 2014...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaWas written for Carole King's ex hubby. Just found out that one of my fav drummers, Mr. Hal Blaine played on this song. Always liked the tune.
  • Rick from EarthFor a anti drug song it really rocked then and now.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 11th 1966, Paul Revere and the Raiders performed "Hungry" on the ABC-TV week-day afternoon program 'Where The Action Is"...
    At the time the song was at #10 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; thirteen days later on July 24th it would peak at #6 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 11 weeks...
    It was the group's second straight Top 10 record with a one word title; "Kicks" peaked at #4 {for 1 week} earlier in 1966 on May 8th...
    Between 1961 and 1973 the group had twenty four Top 100 records; five made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, as The Raiders* their "Indian Reservation" peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on July 18th, 1971...
    * Their last seven Top 100 records were released as The Raiders.
  • Howard from LevittownIt was written with Gerry Goffin in mind, but apparently Mark Lindsey punctuated it with "girl," as if he was giving a big brotherly talking to or something. The words would have fit the music with one less beat without that. Hear it in your head: You don't need kicks...You just need help.

    @John in Cincinnati: Amen. Mark Lindsay looked and sounded like he wanted to be Mick Jagger, and he had the moves like him more than Adam Levine(Maroon 5) does, sorry to say.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 4th 1961, Paul Revere & the Raiders performed "Like, Long Hair" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    This was five years before "Kicks", which was their first Top 10 record...
    "Like, Long Hair", an instrumental, debuted on the Top 100 on March 21st, 1961 at position #94; and on April 17th, 1961 it peaked at #38 (for 1 week) and spent 6 weeks on the Top 100...
    ("Like, Long Hair" is a classical rocker and available on You Tube).
  • Don from Willoughby, OhBack in the mid 60's my Cuz and I would watch them on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is. They were on it all the time and we thought they were great.
    To answer the question about who Kicks was written for, according to Wikipedia "Kicks" became their best-known song, an anti-drug message written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that was originally earmarked for The Animals. (Mann later revealed in interviews that the song was written about their friend, fellow 1960s songwriter Gerry Goffin, whose on-going drug problems were interfering with his career with then-wife Carole King.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 21st 1966, Paul Revere & the Raiders performed "Kicks" on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'...
    One month later on March 19th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62; and on May 8th it peaked at #4 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on May 2nd, 1966 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart...
    It was the group's first Top 10 record; and between 1961 and 1973 they had twenty-four Top 100 hits, with five making the Top 10 and one reaching #1 ("Indian Reservation" for one week in 1971).
  • David from Las Vegas, NvThis song was covered by the Monkees in 1986 as one of three new songs for the compilation set "Then and Now...the Best of the Monkees." At the time, the only members of the group to perform on the song were Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork, and Tork was later quoted as having been miffed at being asked by the higher-ups to do a cover of another band's group. He compared it to a Beatles reunion where the Fab Four would be asked to play "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaThere is definitely a music similarity between "Satisfaction" and "Kicks", but a little trivia, Paul Revere and the Raiders also covered a version of "Satisfaction." I cannot see, however, "Kicks" being a reply/sequel to "Satisfaction." Can you explain why, or someone else?
  • Mark from Lunenburg, MaWhile dabbling with drugs myself in the late sixties/early seventies, I could find ways to justify my behavior. But I remember that every time I heard "Kicks", a little voice in my head would always say, "You know this isn't the way to go." I honestly believed it may have help to keep my from getting in too deep!
  • Andy from Birmingham, AlThis song could be a used to address any and every addiction of every type. Far too many are gaining fleshly wishes (some gaining much of this world) and on the way to losing their souls. When "Kicks just keep gettin' harder to find," trying to maintain half the same high as last time, they "ain't bringin' (you) piece of mind." They instead leave the subject feeling emptier than last time, and counting. This world needs a wake-up call: "Before you find out it's too late, you'd better get straight!" The Day of Reckoning is the ultimate "too late"! "Or what can you give in exchange for your soul?" (Matt. 16:26) Funny there are mentions of Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." To "I can't get no satisfaction," the Raiders' "Kicks" is the perfect reply (or sequel, in the case of Solomon). Like Solomon, the friend seeking the "kicks" has tried any and all fleshly venues and likewise "can't get no satisfaction." "Kicks" and the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn", in tandem, cover much of the message of Ecclesiastes.
  • Julia from Milton, Pamy favorite band is the beatles, but my favorite song is kicks. weird
  • Bill from West Chester, PaThis song was written about Gerry Goffin, who was Carole King's husband at the time.
  • Bebe from La, CaWhen I was a kid I thought this was about sex.
  • Nancy from Bellefontaine, OhAny one have information about Billy Graham that played with PR&TR at beach parties along the Oregan coast in the early years?
  • Mark from Colorado Sprinjgs, CoKicks is a great song... ranked #400 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It took great courage in 1966 to come out with an anti-drug message when most of the great musicians were ruining their lives and their music because of drug use. As the song says, "No, you don't need kicks
    To help you face the world each day
    That road goes nowhere
    I'm gonna help you find yourself another way."
  • John from Cincinnati, OhThe beginning of the Raiders trying to sound like the Stones. The song's intro guitar and bass parts mirror "Satisfaction", and Lindsay does his best Jagger impression (which he continued for their next several singles).
  • Jon from Watauga, TxThis was the first song that I learned to play on guitar when I was 9 years old. And the only one I knew for about 6 months. It drove my parents nuts! But I still love it.
  • Lester from New York City, NyI really loved PR&TR in my teens back in the 60's. I was actually disappointed when I found out they were anti-drug use.

    But I still love their music today.
  • Kim from San Jose, CaEvery time I hear this song I think, Wow, what great lyrics. I just love this song. The lyrics are way ahead of it's time.

    "Don't you see no matter what you do
    You'll never run away from you
    And if you keep on runnin'
    You'll have to pay the price"

    What great lyrics.
  • Angel from Somewhere In, AzMark Lindsey now has a house in Marana Arizona, on a golf course. I have served him and his g-friend/wife dinner many many many times.
    Strangest thing about him- he never takes his sunglasses off, even indoors.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaI liked it alot at the time but the Paul Revere and the Raiders like the Turtles and The Buckinghams were IMO
    second rate compared to the sounds coming out in 1966 and the "British invasion". Still all in all a pretty good tune.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoOne of the best recordings of the 60's. No collection of the great songs of the 60's would be complete without this song. Mark Lindsey did a great job singing this song.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnAn outstanding opening guitar intro.
  • Frank from Westminster, ScI heard that Mann and Weil wrote this about a close male friend of theirs who was getting out of control with drugs at the time. They took the artistic license of making the subject a girl, for the song. Don't know who the friend actually was.
  • Janice from Las Vegas, NvI'd never heard it was written about anyone in particular. But the song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaIn the SCTV skit/movie-of-the-week "South Sea Sinner" , a washed-up Paul Revere (played by Joe Flaherty) is playing this song in the background all the time.
  • Larry from Aurora, KyActually, I think this song was written about the Mark Lindsey's girlfriend or ex-girlfriend, as the case may be, actress Linda Gray. Apparently they were having problems and he wrote the song about it.
  • Gene from Hammond, InBass player nicknamed "Fang" had his pseudonym written on the back of his guitar which he would flip over during a song, grin wildly, showing off his pearly-whites and mug for the audience and/or cameras.
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