The genesis of the song dates back to 1973 and a demo tape recorded for a French record label by singer/guitarist Paul Roberts for the band Ashes of Moon. However, that band broke up and, at the suggestion of drummer Luigi Salvoni, Roberts re-formed it as Sniff 'n' the Tears with guitarists Laurence "Loz" Netto and Mick Dyche and bassist Nick South. They shopped the demo tape and signed with the small Chiswick label in 1977.
According to Paul Roberts, "Driver's Seat" isn't about driving, but rather "fragmented, conflicting thoughts and emotions that might follow the break-up of a relationship". One of the key decisions made in recording the song was to start with Roberts' acoustic guitar and drums and gradually fade in other instruments.
"Driver's Seat" reached #15 on the American Billboard Pop Singles chart in the fall of 1979, and reached the top 10 in The Netherlands in November 1980. It reappeared at #1 on the Dutch Top 40 eleven years later as a result of use of the song in a Pioneer commercial.
|UK Singles Chart||42|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||17|
|US Billboard Pop Singles||15|
|Dutch GfK chart||8|
|Dutch Top 40||4|
|Dutch GfK chart||1|
|Dutch Top 40||1|
|Preceded by||Dutch Top 40 number-one single
20 July 1991 – 3 August 1991 (3 weeks)
In 2005, Belgian dance duo DHT covered "Driver's Seat" for their first full-length album Listen to Your Heart and released it as a single under the alias Dared, reaching #33 in the Flanders Ultratop 50.
The song was featured in the film Boogie Nights and snippets of the song were frequently used by Art Bell as "bumper music" during Coast to Coast AM broadcasts. It was also used in the 2008 documentary Carrier. In 2009 the song was used in a commercial for automaker Lincoln Motor Company and in 2013 in a commercial for Bank of America. In 2012, the song was used in the TV series The Walking Dead in the episode "18 Miles Out". In 2013, it was also partially played in Anchorman 2.