Songs That Were Banned: Everly Brothers – Wake Up Little Suzie

The lines “We both fell sound asleep / Wake up, little Suzie, and weep / The movie’s over, it’s four o’clock / And we’re in trouble deep” were suggestive enough to cause the song to be banned by several radio stations. Although it’s pretty clear the Suzie and her date were at the movies but that didn’t matter.

As with the case of other songs being banned…it only made it more appealing to teenagers at the time. The song peaked at #1 in Billboard and #2 in the UK in 1957.

This was written by the husband and wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote most of The Everly Brothers songs in the ’50s. Their songs were also recorded by Bob Dylan, Elvis, and Buddy Holly.

From Songfacts

This is about a young couple who fall asleep at the drive-in, realize they are out past curfew, and make up a story to tell Susie’s parents.

Some Boston radio stations banned this because of the lyrics, which imply that the young couple spent the night together. At the time, staying out late with a girl was a little controversial.

For The Everly Brothers, this was the first of four US #1 hits. It also went to #1 on the Country & Western charts.

At an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show while campaigning for President in year 2000, George W. Bush was asked by Oprah what his favorite song was. He said: “Wake Up Little Susie – by Buddy Holly.”

Simon & Garfunkel played this at their 1981 concert in Central Park. The live recording was released as a single the next year and hit #27 in the US.

Chet Atkins played guitar on this. Atkins, who died of cancer in 2001, was a Nashville musician who created a distinctive sound using a three-fingered picking technique.

This was a labor of love for the songwriting duo. “We persevered with ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ for many hours,” Boudleaux recalled to Country Music People. “I started writing one night, kept trying to get my ideas down, but it just wouldn’t happen. Finally I woke Felice, who took one listen to what I had so far achieved and came up with the final touches that I couldn’t get. The Everlys liked the song, but like me had problems with getting it right in the studio. They worked a whole three-hour session on that one song and had to give up, they just couldn’t get it right. We all trooped back to the studio the next day and got it down first take. That’s the way it happens sometimes.”

Wake Up Little Susie

Wake up, little Susie, wake up
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
we’ve both been sound asleep, wake up, little Susie, and weep
The movie’s over, it’s four o’clock, and we’re in trouble deep
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well

Whatta we gonna tell your mama
Whatta we gonna tell your pa
Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say ?ooh-la-la?
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well

I told your mama that you’d be in by ten
Well Susie baby looks like we goofed again
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, we gotta go home

Wake up, little Susie, wake up
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
The movie wasn’t so hot, it didn’t have much of a plot
We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well

Whatta we gonna tell your mama
Whatta we gonna tell your pa
Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say “ooh-la-la”
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

8 thoughts on “Songs That Were Banned: Everly Brothers – Wake Up Little Suzie”

  1. Boudleaux was at home sitting in the living room of their new house with a guitar and he started playing that brisk rhythm and then just came out with, “Wake up, little Susie, wake up” and then Felice burst out of the bedroom and said, “That is great!” and this became the ultimate ode to teen angst ’50s style. Boudleaux said, “I started writing one night, kept trying to get my ideas down, but it just wouldn’t happen. Finally I woke Felice, who took one listen to what I had so far achieved and came up with the final touches that I couldn’t get.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another jaw-dropper that it was banned. The cousin I was inseparable from growing up is named Susie and we imagined the song was about her. She also had a crush on a boy named Bobby when that song, Bobby’s Girl came out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is funny it fit perfect. I just listened to Bobby’s Girl… I haven’t heard that in forever…

      Thinking of it I learned 50s songs from Happy Days mostly…and that led me to investigate more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes American Graffiti did have a lot. The songs I remember from Happy Days are Splish Splash, Blueberry Hill and some others. Both of those shows helped those artists a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s