Hank Williams – Your Cheatin’ Heart

***I have posted my 10 favorite covers of Beatle songs at Keith’s site nostaligicitalian ***

The man was such a great songwriter. His influences stretched from Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones and everyone in between…so lets hear it for The Hillbilly Shakespeare

This could be William’s best known song. Williams wrote this shortly after divorcing his wife, Audrey Mae Sheppard. They married in 1944 right after Audrey got a divorce from her husband.  The pair would go on to record several duets together (and produce a son, Hank Williams Jr.), but Williams’ drinking ultimately caused trouble in their marriage.

When Hank described his first wife (Audrey) having a cheatin’ heart to country singer Billie Jean Jones, who would soon become his second wife, he was inspired to write the song.

This song was recorded in September of 1952. He would die in January 1,  1953. This would be his last recording session. He also recorded  recording Kaw-Liga, I Could Never Be Ashamed of You, and Take These Chains from My Heart. 

His last single during his lifetime was  I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive backed with I Could Never Be Ashamed of You which was released in November  1952.

Your Cheatin’ Heart peaked at #1 on the US Country Charts in 1953.

Billie Jean Jones (second wife) on Hank Williams saying the phrase in a car: “Then he said, ‘Hey that’d make a good song! Get out my tablet, baby, you and I are gonna write us a song,'” “Just about as fast as I could write it, Hank quoted the words to me in a matter of minutes.”

From Songfacts

Williams recorded this in September 1952 during what would be his last session at Nashville’s Castle Records. He would die just months later from heart problems (or, some say, suspicious circumstances) on the way to a New Year’s concert in Canton, Ohio. The song was posthumously released in January 1953 and topped the Country & Western Billboard Charts for six weeks.

Many artists have covered this over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Glen Campbell, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ray Charles’ 1962 version was a hit in both the US and the UK, peaking at #29 and #13, respectively.

Rat Pack member Joey Bishop recorded this in the ’60s on the album Cold, Cold, Heart. Bishop was an actor, and many people considered his version so bad it was actually entertaining. On the album cover, Bishop is dressed in a rhinestone cowboy costume. It contains liner notes by fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin. 

For the line “You’ll walk the floor, the way I do,” Williams took inspiration from his friend Ernest Tubb’s “Walkin’ the Floor Over You.” He also recorded three of Tubb’s hits, which were released posthumously: “First Year Blues,” “It Just Don’t Matter Now” and “I’m Free at Last.”

This song shares its name with the 1964 biopic of Hank Williams, starring George Hamilton. Hank Williams Jr. recorded the soundtrack album.

Two versions of this hit the pop charts in 1953: Joni James’ at #2 and Frankie Laine’s at #18.

Your Cheatin’ Heart

Your cheatin’ heart
Will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry
And try to sleep
But sleep won’t come
The whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

When tears come down
Like falling rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name
You’ll walk the floor
The way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

Your cheatin’ heart
Will pine some day
And crave the love
You threw away
The time will come
When you’ll be blue
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

When tears come down
Like falling rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name
You’ll walk the floor
The way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

Joyce Green – Black Cadillac

I caught you cheatin’ and runnin’ round
And now I’m gonna put you in a hole in the ground
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac…. Joyce Green 1959

Joyce was only 19 and she didn’t play around in this song. How great are those lyrics? She not only sings this song…she owns it and you don’t want on Joyce’s bad side. Her voice is electric. It’s a downright shame she didn’t do much more.  The quality is great.

When I heard this I thought I died and went to rockabilly heaven. A man named Tommy Holder is playing guitar and does he ever. This wasn’t a hit but it’s a treasure to find. Joyce embarked on a promotional tour with Carl Perkins to support the record. The record was never a hit and Joyce did not record again until the 1970s. These later recordings were lost in a fire… and that is sad.

The song was a reworking of an old blues number by Buddy Moss, with Moss’s  V8 Ford replaced by a flashy Cadillac.

In 1959, Joyce wrote the song Black Cadillac with her sister Doris. She played the song for Arlen Vaden who arranged a recording session for her at KLCN in Blytheville, Arkansas. Joyce sang and played rhythm guitar on the record which included the song Tomorrow on the A-side and Black Cadillac on the B-side. I can’t believe this was a B side. This was her only release…the single Tomorrow/Black Cadillac.

The other musicians on the record included Tommy Holder on guitar, Teddy Redell on piano, Scotty Kuykendall on bass and Harvey Farley on drums. The record was released on Vaden Records 1959. Vaden Records, based in Trumann (Poinsett County), started as a mail-order company featuring gospel music. It soon grew into a regional studio that released music by such blues and early rock and roll artists as Bobby Brown, Teddy Riedel, Larry Donn, and many others who went on to regional and national fame.

Black Cadillac

I caught you cheatin’ and runnin’ round
And now I’m gonna put you in a hole in the ground
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac
Oh yeah, you think you won
Oh baby, but you can’t come back
Now, I’m gonna bump you off
Gonna tell you the reason why
You’re worth more to me dead daddy
Than you is alive
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac
Oh yeah, you think you won
Oh baby, but you can’t come back

I’m gonna buy me a pistol
A great big forty-five
I’m gonna bring you back baby, dead or alive
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac
Oh yeah, you think you won
Oh baby, but you can’t come back

I’ll hire a black Cadillac
To drive you to your grave
I’m gonna be there baby
Throw that mud in your face
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac
Oh yeah, you think you won
Oh baby, but you can’t come back
I’ll wear a black mink coat
A diamond ring on my hand
I’m gonna put you under ground
I’ll find myself another man
I’m gonna ride to your funeral
Daddy, in a black Cadillac
Oh yeah, you think you won
Oh baby, but you can’t come back

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode

This song is probably the most important rock and roll song in the history of rock. Parts of it have been borrowed, stolen, and picked apart. Any rock band should be able to play this song or their rock-card gets taken away.

This song that was released in 1958 is based on Berry’s life. It tells the tale of a boy with humble beginnings with a talent for guitar. Some details were changed… Berry was from St. Louis, not Louisiana, and he knew how to read and write very well. He graduated from beauty school with a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology.

Chuck got the name “Johnny” from Johnnie Johnson, a piano player who collaborated with Berry on many songs, including “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Sweet Little 16.” Johnson often wrote the songs on piano, and then Berry converted them to guitar and wrote lyrics. Berry joined Johnson’s group, The Sir John Trio, in 1953, and quickly became the lead singer and centerpiece of the band.

Berry got the word “Goode” from the street in St. Louis where he grew up. He lived at 2520 Goode Avenue

Johnnie Johnson as very well-respected among many musicians. He played with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and many others before his death at age 80 in 2005.

In 1977, NASA sent a copy of this on the Voyager space probe as part of a package that was meant to represent the best in American culture. Someday, aliens could find it and discover Chuck Berry.

The contents of the golden record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan. Some disagreed with the inclusion of Johnny B. Goode on the disc, claiming that rock music was adolescent. Carl Sagan responded, “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.” 

The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 in 1958.

From Songfacts

The line “that little country boy could play” was originally “that little colored boy can play.” Berry knew he had to change it if he wanted the song played on the radio, and he didn’t want to alienate his white fans, who could better relate to the tale of a “country” boy.

Berry lifted some guitar licks for this song: the intro came from the Louis Jordan song “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman,” and the guitar break came from a 1950 T-Bone Walker song called “Strollin’ With Bones.” Jordan was a very influential R&B singer and a huge influence on Berry; Walker was a famous guitarist in the ’40s and early ’50s who came up with an electric guitar sound and raucous stage act that Berry incorporated.

In 2000, Johnnie Johnson sued Berry, claiming that he never got credit for helping write many of Berry’s hits, including this. The case was dismissed in 2002, with the judge ruling that too much time passed between the writing of the songs and the lawsuit.

This song is a great example of the care and precision Berry used when writing and delivering his lyrics. He wanted the words to his songs to tell a story and stand on their own, and took care to clearly enunciate so listeners could understand them. Many of the Country and Blues singers who preceded Berry weren’t so clear with the words.

In 1981, Keith Richards went backstage at a Chuck Berry show in New York, where he made the mistake of plucking the strings on one of Berry’s guitars. Chuck came in and punched him, giving Richards a black eye. This wasn’t out of character for the sometimes-prickly Berry. Richards later said: “I love his work, but I couldn’t warm to him even if I was cremated next to him.”

Berry recorded a sequel to this song called “Bye Bye Johnny,” which tells the story of Johnny as a grown man.

Johnny Winter played this at the Woodstock festival in 1969. He released a studio version the same year on his album Second Winter.

At the Summer Jam in Watkins Glen, New York in 1973, The Band, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead played this song as an encore. It was the largest rock concert ever, with about 600,000 people attending.

This was featured in the 1985 movie Back To The Future. Michael J. Fox’ character goes back in time and plays it to a stunned crowd as Marvin Berry looks on. Marvin rings his cousin, Chuck, saying that he thinks he has found the new style he is looking for, then points the telephone so that it catches most of the music coming from Marty McFly. This scene produced a classic line when McFly comes on stage and tells the band, “It’s a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes, and try to keep up.”

A musician named Mark Campbell sang Fox’s vocals, but was credited as “Marty McFly.”

Peter Tosh did a reggae version in 1983 that reached #48 in the UK and #84 in America. His producer, Donald Kinsey, told Mojo magazine that during the session, Tosh struggled to add anything sufficiently original to Chuck Berry’s rock and roll classic, but then Kinsey woke up with a breakthrough. “It hit me: the bassline, the vocal melody, The Almighty gave it to me,” he said. “I was so excited, I woke everybody up. The next day I told Peter, we need a hit record. Let me get the band and lay the track, brother. And if you don’t like it, burn it up.”

Along with Peter Tosh, these singers charted in America with covers of “Johnny B. Goode”:

71/64 Dion (#71, 1964)
114/69 Buck Owens (#114, 1969)
92/70 Johnny Winter (#92, 1970)

The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Sex Pistols and the Grateful Dead are among the many artists to cover it.

In 1988, a movie called Johnny Be Good was released with a version of this song by the British metal band Judas Priest as the theme. The film, which stars Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr., was soon forgotten; the Priest cover was included on the soundtrack as well as their album Ram It Down. Released as a single, it reached #64 in the UK. The music video, directed by Wayne Isham, uses footage from the film.

In 1991 Johnnie Johnson released his first solo album: Johnnie B. Bad.

In 2004, John Kerry used this as his theme song at most of his campaign events when he was running for president of the US. In 2008, John McCain used the song in his successful run for the Republican nomination, but phased it out and began using ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me.” Chuck Berry made it clear that he supported McCain’s opponent, Barack Obama. >>

When AC/DC opened for Cheap Trick at a show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on July 7, 1979 the bands joined together to play this song, a recording of which was circulated as a bootleg single. It was officially released in 2007.

Johnny B. Goode

Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track
Oh, the engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
People passing by, they would stop and say
“Oh my that little country boy could play”

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

His mother told him “Someday you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying “Johnny B. Goode tonight”

Go go
Go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go
Johnny B. Goode

Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love?

I remember this song as a teenager by George Thorogood. Bo Diddley was a little funkier than his rock and roll peers. He developed that wonderful riff that will live on forever where ever rock and roll is played. I could play this over and over on the guitar and never get tired of it. You can be a beginner at guitar but once you learn this…it sounds better than any other riff you can play…you can play it soft or loud…it doesn’t matter. The riff or  beat has been called “The Bo Diddley Beat.”

The rhythm to this version is just infectious. Bo Diddley (Ellas McDaniel) wrote this song. It was released in 1956 but did not reach the charts…that boggles the mind.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bo Diddley’s original song at number 133 on their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

You can be cool… but not Bo Diddley playing his square guitar cool… great guitarist and showman.

I always loved his square guitar. He built a guitar that looked like no other. He designed and constructed a custom built square shaped guitar for himself, he then commissioned Gretsch Guitars and Kinman Guitar Electrix to build further custom built square shaped models for him.

Solid Body :: G6138 Bo Diddley, "G" Cutout Tailpiece, Ebony Fingerboard,  Firebird Red

From Songfacts

The title is a play on the word “Hoodoo,” which is a folk religion similar to Voodoo and also popular in the American South. Many blues musicians mentioned Hoodoo in their songs and like Diddley, conjured up images of the skulls, snakes and graveyards.

George Thorogood And The Destroyers recorded a popular cover on their 1978 album Move It On Over. In 1982, Diddley appeared in Thorogood’s video for “Bad To The Bone.” It was good timing, since MTV was new didn’t have many videos.

British blues rockers Juicy Lucy had a #14 hit in the UK in 1970 with their version of this song.

Who Do You Love?

I walk forty-seven miles of barbed wire
I use a cobra snake for a necktie
I got a brand new house on the roadside
Made from rattlesnake hide
I got a brand new chimney made on top
Made out of a human skull
Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene
And tell me, who do you love?

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Tombstone hand and a graveyard mind
Just twenty-two and I don’t mind dying

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

I rode a lion to town, used a rattlesnake whip
Take it easy Arlene, don’t give me no lip

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Night was dark, but the sky was blue
Down the alley, the ice-wagon flew
Heard a bump, and somebody screamed
You should have heard just what I seen

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Arlene took me by my hand
And she said ooo-wee, Bo, you know I understand

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Sunset Boulevard

Hanspostcard is hosting a movie draft from 12 different genres…this is my Film Noir entry.

Sunset Boulevard. fulfills my Film Noir portion of the draft.

I didn’t find this movie until the 90s. In the late eighties I was watching and reading about every silent movie and artist that I could. Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin were at the top of my list.

In a  Keaton book I saw this as a film credit. I then read some about the great Billy Wilder, director, screenwriter, and producer,  and I had to watch it. The movie did not disappoint. Buster’s part was nothing more than a cameo but the movie more than made up for it. It’s funny how we find some movies.

Just a little of the plot… Within two minutes of watching  you see the end of the movie in front of you…then you see the harrowing journey there.

Screenplay writer Joe Gillis was desperately trying to sell his stories but Hollywood did not want to listen. Joe had talent but he wasn’t trying to write something great…just something that would sell. He was going to have to return to home to Dayton Ohio a failure if something didn’t happen and soon. His car was getting repossessed and he was trying to hide it just for a little while. While being chased by creditors he parks it in a decrepit old mansion. Little did he know that former silent movie star Norma Desmond still lived there.  She used to be a big (“I am big it’s the pictures that got small”) star.

Joe Gillis ended up being invited to stay to edit Norma’s film screenplay that she wrote. That screenplay was going to be her return to film.  One thing leads to another and Joe ends up being a kept man and he doesn’t like it one bit. As time goes by life at Norma’s mansion…it gets darker and darker. Joe is stuck there working on Norma’s horrible screenplay while playing the good boy. He gets new clothes, perks, and is not wanting for anything…except freedom. There is a price to be paid for being kept by Desmond. He sneaks out and sees a young girl who he writes with and falls for but cannot break Norma’s grip.

The star of this movie without a doubt is Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond. When we first meet Norma we think she is just an over the top egocentric former silent era actress. Slowly we see what a psychotic existence she lives and it only gets worse.

Norma still thinks she is adored by millions. Her chauffer Max Von Mayerling helps perpetuate this lie. We find out why as the movie goes along and it is shocking. It will blow up in his face but he never quits building her up.

The final scene is chilling. Norma Desmond in a catatonic state asking for a closeup. Her eyes alone will send a shiver down your spine.

The movie is full of great actors and actresses. The focus is on William Holden, Gloria Swanson, and Erich Von Stroheim. Holden was a great actor who appeared in movies such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Stalag 17, and the Wild Bunch.

Erich Von Stroheim plays Max and in the twenties Erich was a silent movie actor but best remembered as an avant-garde director in the 1920s.

Gloria Swanson was a very successful silent movie actress who made a successful move to sound pictures. She also appeared on Broadway in the 40s and 50s. She started many production companies in the 1920s and 30s.

The movie was released in 1950. By 1950 the first great silent film stars of the 20s were aging and there was interest in knowing what happened to them. The Norma Desmond character was thought to be a composite of Mary Pickford who lived her life in seclusion, Clara Bow who had a mental illness as well as some other silent greats. The name was a combination of silent-film star Norma Talmadge and silent movie director William Desmond Taylor who was mysteriously shot and killed…and unsolved to this day.

The movie was written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. It was directed by Billy Wilder and released in 1950.

I’ve never been a fan of the powerful  Louis B. Mayer, the co-founder of MGM. He mistreated a number of artists, one being Judy Garland. After screening this movie he berated Billy Wilder in front of a  crowd of celebrities, saying, “You have disgraced the industry that made and fed you! You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood!” Upon hearing of Mayer’s outburst, Wilder strode up to the mogul and told him “I am Billy Wilder, Go f**k yourself.” My respect for Wilder grew from there.

This movie is one of the greats. It’s a movie that anyone who is a film fan must watch.

“Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” 

Yes she was indeed ready…she spent years getting ready for her final starring role. Just not the role you would think.

Cast

  • William Holden – Joe Gillis
  • Gloria Swanson – Norma Desmond
  • Erich Von Stroheim – Max Von Mayerling
  • Nancy Olson – Betty Schaefer
  • Fred Clark – Sheldrake
  • Lloyd Gough – Morino
  • Franklin Farnum – The Undertaker
  • Larry Blake – Finance Man
  • Charles Dayton – Finance Man
  • Cecil B. DeMille – Himself
  • Creighton Hale – Creighton Hale
  • Arthur Lane -Arthur Lane
  • John “Skins” Miller – Hog Eye
  • Billy Sheehan – 2nd Assistant Director
  • Archie Twitchell
  •  Jack Webb – Artie Green
  • Sidney Skolsky – Himself
  • Eddie Dew – Assistant Coroner
  • Tommy Ivo – Boy
  • Kenneth Gibson – Salesman
  • Ruth Clifford – Sheldrake’s Secretary
  • Bert Moorhouse – Gordon Cole
  • E. Mason Hopper – Doctor/Courtier
  • Virginia Randolph –  Courtier
  • Al Ferguson -Phone Standby
  • Stan Johnson – 1st Assistant Director
  • Julia Faye – Hisham
  • Gertrude Astor -Courtier
  • Frank O’Connor – Courtier
  • Ralph Montgomery – First Prop Man
  • Eva Novak – Courtier
  • Bernice Mosk – Herself
  • Gertrude Messenger – Hair Dresser
  • John Cortay – Young Policeman
  • Robert E. O’Connor – Jonesy
  • Buster Keaton – Buster Keaton

Buddy Holly – That’ll Be The Day

I first heard this song by the Linda Ronstadt version. She did a great job and this was one of the first songs the Beatles covered.

The movie “The Searchers” starring John Wayne inspired this song. This song peaked at #1 in the US Hot 100, #2 in the US R&B, and #1 the UK in 1957.

Holly and bandmate Allison wrote the song. Norman Petty took a writing credit on this because he produced it. This meant Holly and Allison had to share royalties with him.

Buddy Holly and his band The Three Tunes recorded this in Nashville in 1956, but Decca records didn’t like the result and refused to release it. A year later, Holly re-recorded it with The Crickets in a studio in Clovis, New Mexico owned by his new producer, Norman Petty.

Backup vocalists were brought in and the key was lowered to fit Holly’s voice a little better. This version became a huge hit and made Holly a star that summer in 1957.

From Songfacts

Holly had been kicking around his home town in Lubbock, Texas trying to write a hit song for his small rockabilly band since he had attended an Elvis Presley gig at his High School some time in 1955. His band in those days consisted of him on lead vocals and guitar, Jerry Allison on the drums and Joe B. Maudlin on upright bass. He and Jerry decided to get together and go see The Searchers, a Western movie staring John Wayne. In the movie, Wayne keeps replying, “That’ll be the day,” every time another character in the film predicts or proclaims something will happen when he felt it was not likely to happen. The phrase stuck in Jerry’s mind, and when they were hanging out at Jerry’s house one night, Buddy looked at Jerry and said that it sure would be nice if they could record a hit song. Jerry replied with, “That’ll be the day,” imitating John Wayne in the film. 

This was Holly’s first hit, but it was credited to The Crickets, Holly’s band. They worked with two record labels, with one releasing Holly’s songs as The Crickets and the other as Buddy Holly. Both labels were subsidiaries of Decca Records.

This inspired the British 1973 movie of the same name, about a young man with dreams of becoming a rock star.

This was the first song John Lennon learned to play on guitar. American rock stars like Holly and Little Richard were a big influence on The Beatles.

The movie that inspired Holly and Allison to write this also provided the name for the British group The Searchers in 1964.

When this became a hit, Decca records released Holly’s earlier version as well.

“That’ll Be The Day” was the first song John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison recorded together. In 1958, when they were still known as the Quarrymen, they pooled their money, recorded the song at a local studio, and pressed one copy on a 78rpm disc, which they shared. The disc ended up in the possession of Duff Lowe, the piano player in group. In the early ’80s, he sold it to McCartney; it was first heard in a 1985 documentary on Buddy Holly, and was released in 1995 on the Anthology 1 collection.

Linda Ronstadt released her version as the lead single from her 1976 album Hasten Down the Wind. This came at the suggestion of her producer, Peter Asher, who recorded the song completely live, just as Holly’s version was done in the days before multitracking. The song went to #11 in the US and marked a shift for Ronstadt away from country rock.

On this version, listen for the guitar solo – Waddy Wachtel played the first four bars, then Andrew Gold took over for the last four. Wachtel’s performance helped raise his profile in the Los Angeles music scene, where he soon became one of the top session players.

In the US, a version by the Everly Brothers reached #111 in 1965; Pure Prairie League took it to #106 in 1976.

That’ll Be The Day

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, you give me all your loving and your turtle doving
All your hugs and kisses and your money too
Well, you know you love me baby, until you tell me, maybe
That some day, well I’ll be through

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, when Cupid shot his dart he shot it at your heart
So if we ever part and I leave you
You sit and hold me and you tell me boldly
That some day, well I’ll be blue

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, that’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day

Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel

I would hear this song over at my relatives when I was young. They had two or three Elvis greatest hit albums so I got to know his music pretty well.  Before Elvis entered the army he was as about has hot of an entertainer as you could get. He was rock and roll to many people…the Big E, the King, The Hip Shaking Man…

Elvis released this in 1956 and it was the B side to Hound Dog. That is a pretty good single to say the least! According to Joel Whitburn  It is the only single in history to have both sides reach #1 in the US.

Don’t Be Cruel  written by Otis Blackwell, a songwriter who came up with a lot of hits for Elvis. In addition to this, he also wrote “Return to Sender,” “All Shook Up,” and “One Broken Heart for Sale” for Elvis. He also wrote “Fever,” which was made famous by Peggy Lee, and “Great Balls Of Fire” for Jerry Lee Lewis. Blackwell died in 2002 at age 70.

Cheap Trick covered this in 1988. Their version peaked at  #4 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #6 in New Zealand, and #77 in the UK. I did like this version also.

Joel Whitburn (writer):  “As far as the two-sided Presley hit ‘Hound Dog” / “Don’t Be Cruel,’ I’ve always tabulated that single 45 as two #1 hits. ‘Hound Dog’ was the first title to chart and the first one to be listed as the lead #1 song. Billboard’s ‘Best Sellers in Stores’ chart listed the the #1 song on 8/18/56 as ‘Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel.’ It was also shown that way when it first topped the ‘Most Played in Juke Boxes’ chart on 9/1/56. There is absolutely no doubt that the initial sales and ‘buzz’ about this record was for ‘Hound Dog.’ It was a smash #1 hit right out of the box. As airplay began to favor ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ the two titles were flip-flopped at #1, with ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ actually showing more weeks as the #1 lead song. Again, I have always tabulated these two titles as two #1 songs. There is no way you can consider this 4-times platinum record as one #1 hit. And, neither does RIAA who awards gold and platinum selling records. They show ‘Hound Dog’ / ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ as both receiving platinum designations.”

From Songfacts

On Christmas Eve 1955, Otis Blackwell found himself on the streets in front of the Brill Building in New York City trying to stay warm. Things weren’t going well for Blackwell – it was raining and there were leaks in the soles of his shoes. His friend Leroy Kirkland walked by and asked Otis if he had written any more songs. Otis said yes. Over the next week, he sold 6 of them to a publishing company for $25 each. Management at The Brill Building liked him so much they offered him a full-time job writing, and Blackwell accepted. Not long after, Otis got some very good news: This up-and-coming rock star wanted to record one of his songs. The deal was, the guy wanted half the writer’s fee. Otis said, “No way I’m gonna give up half that song.” His friends convinced him that half of something was better than all of nothing. Besides, this new singer just might “make it” and if he did, Otis’ royalties would be tremendous. Over the next few days, Otis agreed. It wasn’t Elvis who wanted half the “writer’s fee.” It was his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The song became one of Elvis’ biggest and longest running hits. (Thanks to the disc jockey, author and music historian Ron Foster.)

Elvis’ bass player Bill Black released an instrumental version of this in 1960 which hit US #11.

Don’t Be Cruel

You know I can be found
Sitting home all alone
If you can’t come around
At least please telephone
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true

Baby, if I made you mad
For something I might have said
Please, let’s forget the past
The future looks bright ahead
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Don’t stop thinking of me
Don’t make me feel this way
Come on over here and love me
You know what I want you to say
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
Why should we be apart?
I really love you baby, cross my heart

Let’s walk up to the preacher
And let us say I do
Then you’ll know you’ll have me
And I’ll know that I’ll have you,
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love,
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Buddy Holly – Everyday

It’s always an honor to post a Buddy Holly song.  This one was written  written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. Buddy was a singer, songwriter, producer, and performer. During his short career, Holly was able to merge the sounds of rockabilly, country music, and R&B to help make rock and roll popular.

The song was recorded in 1957 at the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico.

This song was released on September 20, 1957, as the B-side of “Peggy Sue”. On the original single the Crickets are not mentioned (legal issues), but it is known that Buddy plays acoustic guitar; drummer Jerry Allison slaps his knees for percussion and typewriter; Joe B. Mauldin plays a standup acoustic bass; and producer Norman Petty’s wife Vi Petty plays the celesta.  That gives it a unique sound.

Holly’s version of this song never charted, but two others did. In 1972, John Denver took it to #81 US. Then in 1985, James Taylor made #61 with his cover.

From Songfacts

This upbeat song finds Holly in a hopeful mien, sure that he will soon land the girl of his dreams. He recorded the song in May 1957 with The Crickets at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico.

This is listed as being written by Charles Hardin and Norman Petty. Charles Hardin is actually Buddy Holly: his real name was Charles Hardin Holley. 

This was used in the movies Big Fish and Stand By Me as well as a Season 4 episode of the TV show Lost.

Everyday

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey hey

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ faster
Everyone said, “Go ahead and ask her”
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey hey

Everyday seems a little longer
Every way, love’s a little stronger
Come what may, do you ever long for
True love from me?

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey hey

Everyday seems a little longer
Every way, love’s a little stronger
Come what may, do you ever long for
True love from me?

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey hey
Love like yours will surely come my way

Chuck Berry – School Day

Chuck was more than a  than a rock and roll guitar player in the 50s. He was a  rock and roll poet. A side note…I’ve seen this listed as School Day and School Days.

This song described teenage life in the 50s wonderfully. Teenagers were the target audience for most rock music in that era, and Berry, 30 years old when he wrote the song, knew that he could sell a lot of records by appealing to this crowd.

School days hadn’t changed much since he was there, so his story about getting through the hectic day while thinking about dancing and being with your girl was still relevant to him.

He describes school as restrictive but when it came to rock music…it was all about freedom and Drop the coin right into the slot.

It peaked at #5 in the Billboard Hot 100, #1 in the R&B Charts, and #25 in the UK in 1956.

From Songfacts

Many people mistakenly think the title is the first line in the last verse, “Hail, hail, rock ‘n’ roll.” The line was used as the title for a 1988 rock documentary featuring Berry.

The stops and starts in this song evoke the nature of high school, where you go from one class or activity to another. Berry remembered a big change going from elementary school, where he stayed in the same room all day, to the peripatetic high school routine.

This was Berry’s first hit in the UK.

Berry released a follow-up to this in 1971 called “Lonely School Days (Version 2).”

School Days

Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone

Ring, ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunch room’s ready to sell
You’re lucky if you can find a seat
You’re fortunate if you have time to eat
Back in the classroom, open your books
Keep up the teacher don’t know how mean she looks

Soon as three o’clock rolls around
You finally lay your burden down
Close up your books, get outta your seat
Down the halls and into the street
Up to the corner and ’round the bend
Right to the juke joint, you go in

Drop the coin right into the slot
You’re gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot
With the one you love, you’re makin’ romance
All day long you been wantin’ to dance,
Feeling the music from head to toe
Round and round and round we go

Drop the coin right into the slot
You’re gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot
With the one you love, you’re makin’ romance
All day long you been wantin’ to dance,
Feeling the music from head to toe
Round and round and round we go

Hail, hail rock and roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Long live rock and roll
The beat of the drums, loud and bold
Rock, rock, rock and roll
The feelin’ is there, body and soul

Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run

Nice little Christmas song by the father of Rock and Roll Chuck Berry.  The song has a “Carol” vibe to it and that is never a bad thing.  It was one of the first rock and roll Christmas songs and it was released in 1958.

Berry based this song on “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” giving Rudolph a bit of an attitude as he delivers the toys. The song is credited to Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. Johnny Marks wrote Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Chuck puts his stamp on this song. 

The song is sometimes known as “Run Run Rudolph,” which is how it appears on some other covers. Other artists to record the song include Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, Dwight Yoakam, Bon Jovi and Keith Richards.

The song peaked at #69 in the Billboard 100 in 1958 and has re-charted many times through the years…it peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100 in January of 2020…and I’m sure it is charting now.

The song appeared in a lot of films including Home Alone, Diner, The Santa Clause 2, Cast Away and Jingle All the Way.

Run Rudolph Run

Out of all the reindeers you know you’re the mastermind
Run, run Rudolph, Randalph ain’t too far behind
Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s got to make it to town
Santa make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down
Run, run Rudolph ’cause I’m reelin’ like a merry-go-round

Said Santa to a boy child what have you been longing for?
All I want for Christmas is a rock and roll electric guitar
And then away went Rudolph a whizzing like a shooting star
Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s got to make it to town
Santa make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down
Run, run Rudolph, reeling like a merry-go-round

Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s got to make it to town
Santa make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down
Run, run Rudolph, reeling like a merry-go-round

Said Santa to a girl child what would please you most to get?
A little baby doll that can cry, sleep, drink and wet
And then away went Rudolph a whizzing like a Saber jet
Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s got to make it to town
Santa make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down
Run, run Rudolph ’cause I’m reelin’ like a merry-go-round

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

Elvis Presley – Mystery Train

Listen to the slap back echo on this song. I could just listen to the intro guitar on a tape loop for eons and eons. Sun records had the best echo of anyone. Everyone since has tried to capture that sound.

“Mystery Train” was written and originally recorded by Junior Parker in 1953 for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records…Phillips got a co-writing credit. Phillips would later claim that he made three major changes to the song, and that these were why he got the co-writing credit. The first was to give the song the title “Mystery Train”, which has been a big part of the song’s appeal ever since. The second was to insist that the number of coaches for the train should be sixteen . Parker had been singing “fifty coaches long”. And the final one was to suggest that the band start the song slowly and build up the tempo like a train gathering steam.

Elvis covered the song. There is a good chance he heard Jr. Parker perform it live.

The song was released as the B side to “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.” One of the best B sides ever. The song peaked at #11 in the Country Charts and #25 in the UK in 1955. RCA bought Elvis’s contract and reissued this single.

Scotty Moore who played guitar on the rack: ‘Mystery Train’ became like a signature thing for me” “That was the first one I played through my custom-made amplifier. It had the same slapback effect that Sam had been using on the overall record.”

Sam Phillips: When Elvis came in I found out that Mystery Train was so embedded in Elvis’ mind that when he started to sing it, it was a natural as breathing. If it’s natural it’s awfully hard to beat, like you’re just rolling off of a log. That’s the feeling you get with Mystery Train.” 

His version was ranked #77 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

From Songfacts

Parker was a renowned Blues musician from Memphis who is best known for this song. He was known more for his singing than for his guitar playing, and never achieved the popularity of players like Buddy Guy and B.B. King. Parker was just 39 when he died in 1971 of a brain tumor.

Elvis Presley recorded the most famous version of this song, also on Sun Records, in 1955.  and is his best-known song that was never a hit – it was released as the B-side of “I Forgot To Remember To Forget.” Other artists to cover the song include Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Ricky Nelson, Tom Fogerty, and The Doors.

Neil Young’s 1983 version on his album Everybody’s Rockin’ has an interesting story behind it. After all, there’s never a short story behind a Neil Young song!
Young came to cover “Mystery Train” by way of performing one of the most sarcastic take-that’s in rock history. As told in Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Young had tried to make up for the PR nightmare that was the Trans album with an album even more countrified than Hawks & Doves, which would become Old Ways. However, Geffen’s record executives rejected Young’s new excursion, demanding that he make an album of “rock ‘n’ roll” songs instead.

Can you imagine someone with the audacity to think that they can tell Neil Young what to do? So, Young gave them exactly what they asked for, with the same kind of acidulous derision with which Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground delivered Loaded when Atlantic executives demanded an album “loaded with hits.” Young put together an album of ’50s-style rockabilly songs with a band he assembled and called “the Shocking Pinks.” And what jukebox classics they all are!

Geffen’s reaction was to slap Young with a $3.3 million dollar lawsuit alleging that his music had become “unrepresentative of his previous output.” This is also why Everybody’s Rockin’ is so short – Geffen literally pulled the plug on Young and the Shocking Pinks in mid-recording-session. Young responded in an interview with Musician magazine: “To get sued for being noncommercial after 20 years of making records, I thought was better than a Grammy.” He even told Q magazine that he told Geffen to back off, or his threat was that he was going to play country music forever. Is there a single Neil Young fan out there who doubts – for a fraction of a second – that just to go ‘nyah!’, he would have stuck to his guns and played nothing but country music to this day, had Geffen not backed down? Anyway, it’s a nice little cover of “Mystery Train,” isn’t it?

Mystery Train

Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well, that long black train got my baby and gone

Train, train, comin’ ’round the bend
Train, train, comin’ ’round the bend
Well, it took my baby, but it never will again
No, not again

Train, train, comin’ down, down the line
Train, train, comin’ down, down the line
Well, it’s bringin’ my baby ’cause she’s mine, all mine
She’s mine, all mine

Train, train, comin’ ’round, ’round the bend
‘Round, ’round the bend
Train, train, comin’ ’round, ’round the bend
‘Round, ’round the bend
Well, it took my baby, but it never will again
Never will again

Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls Of Fire

The wild man Jerry Lee Lewis. There is no mistaking who this is…they call him The Killer for a reason. Pam from All Things Thriller wrote a great piece about Jerry Lee… here.

This song became Lewis’ signature tune, as well as the title of the movie about Lewis. Otis Blackwell, a prolific songwriter who wrote many hits for Elvis Presley, wrote this song with Jack Hammer.

This was released in England the same month that Lewis married 13-year-old Myra Gale Brown, who was the daughter of his cousin (and bass player) J.W. Brown. At the time, Lewis was headlining shows with Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, but when the UK press found out, public outrage forced Lewis to leave the country.

Back in the States, his career started to spiral as radio stations refused to play his records and stores refused to sell them. Jerry Lee turned to country music in the late sixties and made a very successful comeback and started to appear on the charts again.

The peaked at #2 in teh Billboard 100, #1 in the Billboard Country Charts, and #1 in the UK in 1957.

Eric Clapton: “I remember the first Rock & Roll I ever saw on TV was Jerry Lee Lewis doing ‘Great Balls of Fire.’ That threw me – it was like seeing someone from outer space.”

From Songfacts

Like Lewis’ previous hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” this song is filled with sexual innuendo (” let me love you like a lover should…”), which was shocking for a southern musician in 1957. Lewis grew up in a religious household and was conflicted over whether or not he should record this. He and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips argued as Phillips tried to convince him to sing it. Tape was rolling during the spat and the exchange can be heard on some Sun Records collections. “I thought it was funny because I could see both of them,” recalled house drummer JM van Eaton to Uncut magazine April 2012. “Sam’s as serious as he could be, and Jerry’s as heated as he could be.”

This song made the Top 5 of the Pop, R&B, and Country charts simultaneously with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Both hit #1 on the Country charts, and while this sold 5 million copies, which was less then its predecessor, it still charted higher.

In the UK, a similarly raucous version by the female singer Georgia Gibbs was released in 1957 before Lewis’ version was issued. It didn’t chart, and Jerry Lee’s recording became a huge hit, topping the UK chart and becoming the first Sun Records recording to score there.

In 1989, Dennis Quaid portrayed Lewis in the movie Great Balls Of Fire, which told the story of his life.

The film took a few liberties, including a scene where Lewis sets his piano on fire while performing this song – a tale often told by Lewis but never verified.

In America, the song was released on November 11, 1957, just one day before the movie Jamboree hit theaters. Lewis performed the song in the film, which gave it great exposure. Other singers appearing in the movie were Carl Perkins, Fats Domino and Frankie Avalon.

In the movie Top Gun, “Goose” (Anthony Edwards) and “Maverick” (Tom Cruise) sing this while “Goose” plays a piano that still sits at the Kansas City Barbeque Restaurant in San Diego, California where the scene was filmed.

Dolly Parton made “Great Balls Of Fire” the title track to her 1979 album. Her cover was used in the 1985 Miami Vice episode “Golden Triangle (Part I).” Other artists to cover the song include Conway Twitty, Sha Na Na, Mae West, Rolf Harris and the Misfits.

Great Balls of Fire

You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire

I learned to love all of Hollywood money
You came along and you moved me honey
I changed my mind, looking fine
Goodness gracious great balls of fire

You kissed me baba, woo…..it feels good
Hold me baba, learn to let me love you like a lover should
Your fine, so kind
I’m a nervous world that your mine mine mine mine-ine

I cut my nails and I quiver my thumb
I’m really nervous but it sure is fun
Come on baba, you drive me crazy
Goodness gracious great balls of fire

{ piano solo }

Well kiss me baba, woo-oooooo….it feels good
Hold me baba
I want to love you like a lover should
Your fine, so kind
I got this world that your mine mine mine mine-ine

I cut my nails and I quiver my thumb
I’m real nervous ’cause it sure is fun
Come on baba, you drive me crazy
Goodness gracious great balls of fire

I say goodness gracious great balls of fire…oooh…

Chuck Berry – Roll Over Beethoven

I like going back to the pioneers who started all of this. Those old raw recordings have been inspected, dissected, and copied to this day. All rock bands will do a Chuck Berry riff somewhere and most likely will cover at least one of his many songs.

I first was introduced to Chuck Berry by the Beatles faithful version. This song is a staple of early rock and roll. Everyone from George Harrison to Keith Richards were influenced by Chuck Berry. His songs were mini stories set against a fast guitar with a driving beat.

This song is about the rock ‘n’ roll craze that was taking over America. Beethoven and Tchaikovsky were classical composers who were being bumped aside by rock. At the time, many critics dismissed rock music as a passing fad…and the fad is still going on.

Berry started writing this song to rib his younger sister, Lucy, who played classical music on the family piano. Chuck was telling her to stop playing so he could play rock and roll.

The song peaked at #29 in the US Charts and #2 in the R&B Charts in 1956.

From Songfacts

Berry was careful to write lyrics that told a coherent story, which in this case follows a young many as he pursues his favorite music. Berry also took care to deliver his lyrics clearly so a wider audience could understand them. This helped him avoid the fate of many Little Richard songs: more popular, but sanitized covers by Pat Boone.

The line, “Early in the mornin’ I’m a givin’ you a warnin'” is a tribute to Louis Jordan’s 1947 track “Early In The Mornin’.”

Jordan, a jump-blues innovator, certainly earned the tribute: his 1946 song “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” has a guitar intro (played by Carl Hogan) that Berry lifted for “Roll Over Beethoven.”

The Beatles released a version of this song in 1963, which they played at most of their early live shows. The following year, The Beach Boys released “Fun, Fun, Fun,” which copied the intro to “Roll Over Beethoven” nearly note for note.

This was used in the 1992 movie Beethoven, which is about a Saint Bernard.

The Electric Light Orchestra covered this in 1973, mixing in some of Beethoven’s music. It was their biggest hit at the time, going to #6 in the UK and #42 in the US.

ELO was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7, 2017, less than a month after Berry’s death. They opened the ceremony with a performance of this song in tribute to Berry.

For a February 4, 1977 primetime special celebrating 25 years of American Bandstand, Berry performed this song joined by Seals & Crofts, Gregg Allman, Junior Walker, Johnny Rivers, the Pointer Sisters, Charlie Daniels and Doc Severinsen. This was one of the first “all-star jams” that would later become commonplace. This performance served as a showcase for the musicians, who were introduced as they performed by Paul Williams. 

Iron Maiden spoofed this on their song “Roll Over Vic Vella,” which was used as the B-side to the single for “From Now to Eternity” It’s one of the few singles that featured a photograph of the band performing as cover art. 

Leon Russell often covered this song. He performed it on the musical variety show Shindig! in 1964.

The Beatles version…the bands I’ve played in used more powerful amps in a small club than the Beatles had at that time for stadiums. They made it necessary to boost the power with larger amps…to this day I don’t see how they heard each other…they probably didn’t. 

Roll Over Beethoven

Well, I’ma write a letter
I’m gon’ mail it to my local DJ
Yeah that’s the jumpin little record
I want my jockey to play
Roll over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today

You know, my temperature’s risin’
The jukebox blowin’ a fuse
My heart’s beatin’ rhythm
And my soul keeps a-singin’ the blues
Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news

I got the rockin’ pneumonia
I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I caught the rollin’ arthritis
Sittin’ down at a rhythm review
Roll over Beethoven, they rockin’ in two by two

Well, if you feel and like it
Go get your lover, then reel and rock it
Roll it over and move on up just a
Trifle further, then reel and rock it
Wind another
Roll over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues

Well in the mornin’ I’m givin’ you my mornin’
Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
Hey diddle diddle, I’ma play my fiddle
Ain’t got nothin’ to lose
Roll over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news

You know she wiggles like a glow worm
Dance like a spinnin’ top
She got a crazy partner
Ya oughta see ’em reel and rock
Long as she got a dime the music will never stop

Roll over Beethoven
Roll over Beethoven
Roll over Beethoven
Roll over Beethoven
Roll over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues

Mad and Cracked Magazine…a quick look

To those that it applies…Happy Independence Day! I’ll have a couple of songs coming up related to Independence Day.

I never got into comic books like Marvel or DC…I would save up my allowance for Cracked and Mad magazine…and records of course. Mad Magazine was by far the most popular out of all of the satire comic magazines. William Gaines was the publisher of Mad magazine and was brilliant.

William Gaines – sendingdeadletters

1952 – Present…now you an only get Mad from Comic Book Shops or order it. The new editions consist of mostly material from their archive.

Cracked was known as the poor man’s Mad but I still liked it and the magazines shared some writers and artists through the years. I bought my first Cracked Magazine when Mad was sold out but I never missed an issue after that.

1958-2007 Now the name is alive on a website but no longer a comic.

Alfred E Newman and Sylvester P. Smythe

Sylvester P. Smythe | The Belated NerdSylvester P. Smythe | Cracked Wiki | Fandom

Don Martin was my favorite artist. He was one of Mad’s most famous artists. He was there from 1956 to 1988. He was known as “Mads Maddest Artist” and then moved to Cracked and was jokingly known as “Cracked’s Crackedest Artist.”

Fellow Cracked artist Dan Clowes: “As far as I could tell, he was happy,  don’t think he ever seemed to notice that Mad was respected, whereas Cracked was loathed.”

Completely Mad Don Martin TPB (1974 Warner Books) A MAD Big Book ...

Cracked #235 May 1988 cover by Don Martin | Mad magazine, Vintage ...