Bill Haley – See You Later Alligator

This song is for Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt is (drum roll please…) Alligator/Crocodile/Lizard/Snake/Turtle…

Sometimes I like going back to the era where Rock and Roll began as we know it. Bill Haley was an unlikely looking rock star but he did have some hits in the 50s. Rock Around the Clock was his best known song but he did have some other hits like Shake, Rattle, and Roll, and Crazy Man Crazy. His popularity and legacy didn’t last as long as some of his peers. I was introduced to him by the television show Happy Days.

See You Later Alligator was written by songwriter Robert Charles Guidry, who recorded it himself in 1955 under his stage name of Bobby Charles. However it was the Bill Haley version that took off. Guidry also wrote hits for other performers, most notably “Walking To New Orleans” for Fats Domino.

After while crocodile was/is a popular way of saying goodbye and this song made it more popular. The use of the phrase “See you later alligator” when taking one’s leave stemmed from this song. However… according to Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable, ‘alligator’ was already a term in the 1950s for a jazz or a swing fan, as someone who ‘swallowed up’ everything on offer.

The song peaked at #6 in the Top 100, #7 in the R&B Charts, and #7 in the UK in 1955.

So….to stay in the spirit of the song…Don’t Be Square…We’d better stop before we drop. Thanks for dropping by, McFly…and see you later…alligator!

Have a wonderful Sunday and thanks for reading.

From Songfacts

They don’t make ’em like they used to! This classic hails from a time when rock-n-roll bands had flashy names like “Bill Haley & His Comets” and played 12-bar blues songs like they knew where they were coming from. Bill Haley & His Comets is regarded today as one of the first true rock-n-roll bands, innovators who were white musicians bringing rock to a white audience.

Haley and his producer Milt Gabler had some experience turning catchy R&B songs into mainstream hits – they had done it with “Shake, Rattle And Roll.” They heard the Bobby Charles version of “See You Later Alligator,” which was climbing the charts, and knew that they had to get a version recorded and released quickly before someone else did. In mid-December, knowing that operations would shut down when hey got near Christmas, the band recorded the song on a weekend, and Gabler had to break into his own office to retrieve the Charles version of the song and the lyrics he had written down. Said Gabler: “My office had a frosted glass panel so I got a hammer, smashed the pane and robbed my own office. When the staff came in on Monday morning, they thought there had been a robbery. My secretary had a long face. She said, ‘Mr. Gabler, someone’s broken into your office.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know. It was me.'”

The Rosemarie Ostler book Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers – A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century calls this style “Voutian” and credits the jazz musician Slim Gaillard with its invention.

If you’re thinking “Get on the bus, gus!”, then you have a good clue, Blue! Another song to use this rhyming-jive style is “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Also see TV series such as I Love Lucy and other shows from the ’50s or set in the ’50s. Oh, yes, and in the film Grease, the master of ceremonies at Rydell High’s National Bandstand Dance-Off Contest explains the rules in rhyming jive. You can probably think of more examples, but do not confuse this with Cockney rhyming slang, which is a completely different speech pattern altogether.

See You Later Alligator

(See you later, alligator)

Well, I saw my baby walkin’ with another man today
Well, I saw my baby walkin’ with another man today
When I asked her what’s the matter
This is what I heard her say

See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
Can’t you see you’re in my way now
Don’t you know you cramp my style

When I though of what she told me, nearly made me lose my head
When I though of what she told me, nearly made me lose my head
But the next time that I saw her
Reminded her of what she said

See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
Can’t you see you’re in my way now
Don’t you know you cramp my style

She said I’m sorry pretty daddy, you know my love is just for you
She said I’m sorry pretty daddy, you know my love is just for you
Won’t you say that you’ll forgive me
And say your love for me is true

I said wait a minute ‘gator, I know you mean it just for play
I said wait a minute ‘gator, I know you mean it just for play
Don’t you know you really hurt me
And this is what I have to say

See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
Can’t you see you’re in my way now
Don’t you know you cramp my style

See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, so long, that’s all, goodbye

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

34 thoughts on “Bill Haley – See You Later Alligator”

    1. There were better ones at his time but…the one thing that Rock Around The Clock contributed was the solo by Danny Cedrone. That is a classic solo.

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      1. When I worked on the radio we had a list of “Hometown Heroes”. We had a jingle that promoted the fact that the artist that followed it was a Michigan artist. Saw his guitar at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…..it was pretty amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That guitar is huge. He was a big man…I saw Brian Setzer play it and the guitar was bigger than him.

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  1. Thanks for dropping by, McFly may be where Back to the future Michael J. Fox Marty McFly got his name from. I saw Halley’s comet in 1986 and there is no chance that i will be around when it comes back in 2061. That stand-up bass is a dead giveaway that it is an oldie.

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      1. Yep, it would have been really cool.

        The weird thing is this wasn’t the only such incident I encountered. I also had a ticket to see Aretha Franklin on what would have been her 76th birthday. Then that and a few other shows got cancelled per her doctor’s orders, and five months later she passed.

        Not that I’m superstitious, but it’s kind of strange.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hearing any Bill Haley makes me smile, not so much with enjoyment as I’ve never been a fan of his stuff, but because the ‘See you later alligator/in a while crocodile’ (‘in a while’ being the version of the lyrics I knew) was a common greeting between me and my dad when he was leaving the house, and Rock Around the Clock was a song one of my friends at primary school (first school – ages 5 to 10) would tap dance to in between the desks when our teacher wasn’t in the room! It won’t have been on the radio and we had no record player there, so I can only assume she sang or hummed it aloud at the time. We’d have been about eight years old then.

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    1. Bill gets lost in the 50s shuffle…That is great…tap dancing to Rock Around The Clock…that belongs in a movie.

      Bill seemed to be half rock and half cool jazz guy…I’m not sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bill Haley and the Comets were one 50s band I wasn’t as knowledgable about (I still need to learn more) and they get overlooked…I listened to more of their music… you are right. There is a strong jazz influence in there and I love the sound of the stand up bass.

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      2. There are so many great elements to their sound. The bass rattle. Ralph Jones Snare sound always struck me as a unique and wild snare sound. Love Franny’s guitar playing. He remains my all time favourite lead guitarist. It’s all good. Thing with Bill Haley records (even the super cheesy one’s) is that they make me grin. Its feel good music.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m going to check out more. I’m a seventies kid so I first heard of them by Happy Days but my dad had some records also…Thanks for chatting…it’s good to talk to someone who knows more about them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Heard the Milt breaking into office story before. That urgency to be the first white rock and roll act to release the song, is my favourite bit of the song. Well that and Franny squeaking ‘Oh my!’ at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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