“There is only one true king of rock and roll,” said Stevie Wonder. His name is Chuck Berry.
His recordings were modern and exciting. The artist, who died at the age of 90, practically invented rock.
Although he was the first to admit that he was inspired by previous musicians. “There really is nothing new under the sun,” he said in the mid-80s movie. “Hail, Hail rock ‘n’ roll“, citing musicians T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian as their predecessors.
Even the famous “Chuck Berry” guitar intros, which opened hits like Maybellene and Johnny B. Goode, were taken from a recording by Louis Jordan, according to Berry himself.
However, he turned those influences into something else. He wrote defiant odes to cars and women, at a time when rock lyrics were all “tutti frutti and ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop'”.
What said Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, Berry wrote “all the great songs and tried all los ritmos del rock and roll”.
“He made the law,” commented musician Eric Clapton as well.
Here we review seven of his most influential songs.
1. Maybellene (1955)
Chuck’s first song made it to the top five in America, a year before Elvis Presley made his debut.
It was based on Ida Red, a 1938 hit from Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. But Berry added a thunderous rhythm section and the lyrics spoke of the teenage fantasy of traveling in fast cars, even though he was in his mid-20s when he wrote it.
“As I was running down the hill, I saw Maybellene in a Coupé-de-Ville / Cadillac rolling down the open road / trying to escape my Ford V-8”says the topic.
The disc jockeys Alan Freed and Russ Fratto were “encouraged” to play the song in exchange for being credited as co-authors, and Berry’s career was born.
2. Roll over Beethoven (1956)
It is widely regarded as a rock and roll manifesto.
But it was actually a fond nod to Berry’s sister Lucy, who spent so much time at the family piano that he couldn’t use it.
However, the message – that Beethoven and Tchaikovsky had been afterloops by the power of chuck and his guitar Cherry red Gibson– had a wide echo in musicians from all over the world.
The song was reinterpreted by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones it is included Iron Maiden.
3. School Day (1957)
Chuck spoke directly to his teenage audience. School Day is a perfect example.
Express that feeling horrible, to be enjauladwhat do you feel the waiting children that sounds the school bell for leave.
Berry was in his 30s when the song was released.
“Back in the classroom, open your books,” he sings. “Gee, but the teacher doesn’t know how bad she looks.”
4. Brown eyed handsome man (1956)
While most of his songs are carefree, this one takes on a more political tone.
“Arrested on unemployment charges / He was sitting in the witness box / The judge’s wife called the district attorney / She said, ‘Free that brown-eyed man,'” the lyrics read.
Berry I know inspirationoh to write the song while gave concerts in neighborhoods negrOs y latinOs of California,at the beginning of his career.
“What I didn’t see, at least in the areas I touched, was too many blue eyes,” he wrote in his 1987 autobiography.
“The auditoriums were predominantly full of Hispanics and ‘us’. But I saw an incredible harmony between the mix, which got the idea of the song started,” he says.
5. You never can tell (1964)
Chuck’s most danceable song sounds a bit more sinister when you discover that the musician wrote it after being arrested for crossing a state line with a 14-year-old girl, without her parents’ consent.
“It was a teenage wedding and the old people wished them well,” the artist sings. “You could see that Pierre really loved the ‘mademoiselle’.”
“And now the young lord and madam have rung the chapel bell.‘That’s life‘say the old men, and it shows that one never know“, follow.
Chuck was sentenced to three years in prison in 1962, but was released after 20 months, in 1963, when British rock was already in full swing.
6. Memphis, Tennessee (1959)
It’s one of Chuck’s best and cutest lyrics. He worked on it for over a month. Memphis, Tennessee was inspired by the classic Long Distance Operatedr (Long Distance Telephone Operator) by Muddy Waters.
In the lyrics, the star asks a phone operator to help her find a girl named Marie, whose mother has separated her from him.
On the to final one he discovers that the girl is his six-year-old daughter.
In a devastating line, he tells the operator: “The last time I saw Marie, she was waving goodbye / With tears on her cheeks, dripping from her eyes, for going home.”
7. Johnny B. Goode (1958)
Started by the most memorable guitar introduction in rock, Johnny B. Goode is a semi-autobiographical story of a poor guitarist who ends up becoming famous.
“The original words were, of course, ‘that little colored boy could play,” Chuck told Rolling Stone magazine in 1972. “I changed them to’ country boy ‘otherwise it wouldn’t have made it to the radio.” .
This song also demonstrates Chuck’s genius as an arranger. It is one of the first to use overdubs(Technique for recording an arrangement on a prerecorded music track): Chuck adds a guitar solo to the original studio recording.
It is classic has proven to be highly adaptable, with versions of artists like Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimi Hendrix.
As long as rock exists, someone, somewhere will be playing a version of this song.
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7 of the best songs by Chuck Berry, “founding father” of rock and roll