This is the first single from El Camino, the seventh studio album by American Blues-Rock duo, The Black Keys. The song was one of the first that was recorded for the set and was released on October 26, 2011.
El Camino was recorded in vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Auerbach told Spin magazine: "Almost every song on the record has a foundation of live drums and guitar together in the room. It's guitar bleeding into the drum mics. It's pretty raw."
The album was co-produced by Danger Mouse, who previously helmed the duo's 2008 album Attack & Release
and 2010 single "Tighten Up
". Drummer/co-producer Patrick Carney told MTV News: "He's a really good friend of ours, and he's super talented. It's always... Interesting. It's comfortable, but at the same time difficult, because he does push us to do things we normally wouldn't do. I hope it sounds different enough that people see that we're still evolving."
The music video features one Derrick T. Tuggle dancing to the song in the lobby of a motel. It's in the same tradition of other seemingly improvised dancing clips as David Bowie and Mick Jagger's "Dancing In The Street
" and Fatboy Slim's "Praise You
The actor/musician/part-time security guard told MTV News his star-making turn almost didn't happen at all. "I was cast as an extra, and there were maybe six or seven other people who were supposedly going to be in the video. I was the first one to perform in the video. It was a motel shot where the guys from the Black Keys come and give me the keys to their motel room," he said. "The director just sort of noticed me dancing and asked me, 'Can you perform?' I said, 'I can dance, anybody can dance,' so I took some moves from everybody: John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever
and Pulp Fiction
, the Carlton Banks dance from The Fresh Prince
and a little bit of Michael Jackson, so it was a smorgasbord of everybody in there."
Despite being a spur-of-the-moment thing, Tuggle nailed his routine in a single take. He explained to MTV News. "My acting teacher Mark McPherson, he has us do this thing before we start class called 'Song and Dance,' where he'll have us sing one of our favorite songs, and then while we're singing it, he'll have us do a crazy dance, or a sexy dance, and I guess it spawned from that."
Drummer Patrick Carney told MTV News the band's original plans for the video didn't involve Tuggle at all. "There was supposed to be [a proper video for the song], but there is not. We shot a whole video here in Los Angeles about two months ago, but we didn't like it, so we scrapped the whole thing," he explained, "Except for the footage of Derrick Tuggle dancing, which was a complete accident. ... He had an hour to listen to the song, and he memorized all the lyrics and he came up with the dance, and he basically did that on his own. And if we didn't have that footage, we would not have a video for the song."
Auerbach told Q magazine how the duo wrote the song: "It started with that riff and we just built it from the ground up and the vocals came at the end. We wrote this record from scratch in the studio, which isn't the norm for us. We were listening to old rock 'n' roll records, from the '50s. '60s, '70s, '80s. Music that was very simple and fun - drums, bass, guitars, organ and not a lot of bells and whistles on top."
The album cover features The Black Keys' old Plymouth Voyager van rather than an actual El Camino. Auerbach explained why to Q: "Cos El Camino means the road or the path and that was our van that we started touring in 10 years ago. It's been a long road we've been on and that was the vehicle that got us started."
The Black Keys duo, in tandem with El Camino producer Danger Mouse, sued Home Depot Inc. regarding this song. They claimed the home improvement retailer used music that sounded a bit too much like part of "Lonely Boy" in a commercial for their Ryobi power tools.
The Black Keys were joined by Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band when they played this song in 2013 at the Grammy Awards. The song won for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song at the ceremony, while El Camino
won for Best Rock Album.
Dr. John, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, released an album in 2012 called Locked Down, which was produced by Dan Auerbach. The Dr. told us
: "Dan's a very cool guy. I hadn't done a regular track in so many years, but he gave me a chance to take some lyric-als and figure out ways to make it work with a track in a different way than I usually do."