Inspired by the August 18 birthdays of Mika, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, Aphex Twin, Wu-Tang Clan’s Masta Killa, Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne, The Orioles’ Sonny Til, House of Pain’s Everlast, The Toys’ Barbara Harris, The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Maxine Brown, The Primitives’ Tracy Tracy, and Martin Mull.
Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the June 3 birthdays of Curtis Mayfield, Deniece Williams, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, C + C Music Factory’s David Cole, Suzi Quatro, Allen Ginsberg, Dan Hill, Boots Rudolph, Republica’s Saffron, Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones, and Beabadoobee, and the June 2 birthdays of The Rolling Stones‘ Charlie Watts, Chubby Tavares, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Bangles’ Michael Steele, Jimmy Jones, Skillz, Otis Williams, David Dundas, Marvin Hamlisch, Sammy Turner, and Robin Lamont.
Inspired by the April 29 birthdays of Willie Nelson, The Coasters/Robins’ Carl Gardner, Tommy James, Tammi Terrell, The KLF’s Bill Drummond, The Brady Bunch’s Eve Plumb, Duke Ellington, Romeo Void’s Debora Iyall, Lonnie Donegan, Rod McKuen, Otis Rush and April Stevens; and the April 28 birthdays of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Goodie Mob’s Big Gipp, Too $hort and Blossom Dearie.
Blackboard Jungle hit US theaters on March 25, 1955. The plot concerned the arrival of a new teacher at a violent inner-city school. The producers wanted a theme song that was typical of what a 1955 teenager would listen to. Glenn Ford, who starred in the film alongside Anne Francis and Sidney Poitier, looked through his son’s record collection. In there, the theme song was found.
It was the b-side of a single entitled “Thirteen Women (And the Only Man in Town)” that had been released the prior year. When the song was used under Blackboard Jungle’s opening credits, that flip-side, “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock,” performed by Bill Haley and His Comets, went to #1 in the US, and is considered to be the first rock and roll song to do so. It became a smash elsewhere in the world, too, becoming the UK’s first million-selling single.
The classic guitar solo on the track was performed by Danny Cedrone, who was not one of Haley’s Comets but a session musician who had worked with the group previously. He got paid $21 for his contribution to the track. Cedrone took a tumble on a stairway and died shortly after the song was recorded, not living to see its success, let alone its iconic status.
“I didn’t really care what Lieber and Stoller thought of my songs. They didn’t like ‘em, but Doc Pomus did. That was all right that [Lieber and Stoller] didn’t like ‘em, because I never liked their songs either. ‘Yakety yak, don’t talk back.’ ‘Charlie Brown is a clown,’ ‘Baby I’m a hog for you.’ Novelty songs. They weren’t saying anything serious.”
– Bob Dylan, February 2015
“I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!”
– Bob Dylan to an audience member who called him “Judas,” May 1966
– Glenn Schwartz to Bob Dylan regarding his disdain for Lieber and Stoller, April 2015
Perhaps Dylan doesn’t like the comical songs Lieber and Stoller wrote for The Coasters (though I’m skeptical of that as well), but how can he honestly dismiss all their work as novelty songs? Their compositions are part of the Great American Songbook – Rock & Roll Edition. “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand by Me,” “On Broadway,” “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Is That All There Is?” These aren’t humorous songs. Okay, “Is That All There Is?” is pretty funny, though that wasn’t intentional.
I think Bob made that comment as he was miffed about Lieber and Stoller dismissing his work. That they didn’t get Dylan is folly on their part, but the duo’s work has stood the test of time.
Today is the birthday of the late great Jerry Lieber. Today’s playlist consists of twenty classics from the Lieber and Stoller songbook.
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