Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "Roll Over Beethoven"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news:  Chuck Berry is gone.

Chuck Berry, the man whom many consider to be the founding influence of rock 'n roll, died at his home in St. Charles County, Missouri, over the weekend, and with his passing goes one of the strongest influences on music in generations.  Berry, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was ninety-years-old at the time of his death.

(Alexa has been in Chuck Berry mode all weekend!)

Chuck Berry stormed onto the music scene in 1955 with "Maybellene," the story of an unfaithful woman and a drag race.    "Maybellene" was written and performed by Berry, an artist who took special pride in penning lyrics that told a coherent story - and singing them in a clear voice so they could be understood.  Over the next few decades he introduced the world to a host of memorable characters with names like Nadine, Marie, and Johnny B. Goode.

A friend of mine ran into Chuck Berry at an airport back in the early 1970's when "My Ding-a-Ling" was rocking the charts.  My friend, a fellow soldier from Ft. Riley, Kansas, spoke up when he recognized the singer with something like, "Hey, Chuck, how are you doing?"  Berry replied,  "Great.  Whoever thought my ding-a-ling would turn to gold!"

Chuck Berry was a complicated individual whose troubled life found release in his music, lyrics, and the energetic performance of his songs.  He served three stints behind bars, one as a juvenile in a reformatory, and two brief periods in prison as an adult.  He married Themetta "Toddy" Suggs in 1948, a marriage that lasted until his death 68 years later.

Today's poetry selection, "Roll Over Beethoven," was written and performed by Berry in 1956.  It was an announcement of the new type of music that was just beginning to sweep over the planet.  The song has been covered by many artists - including The Beatles.  It really calls for no analysis, because like all of Berry's song lyrics, this one tells a compelling tale in terms nearly everyone can understand.

Roll Over Beethoven
by Chuck Berry

I'm gonna write a little letter,
Gonna mail it to my local DJ
It's a rockin' rhythm record
I want my jockey to play
Roll over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today

You know, my temperature's risin'
And the jukebox blows a fuse
My heart's beatin' rhythm
And my soul keeps on singin' the blues
Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news

I got the rockin' pneumonia,
I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I think I'm rollin' arthritis
Sittin' down by the rhythm review
Roll over Beethoven rockin' in two by two

Well, if you feel you like it
Go get your lover, then reel and rock it
Roll it over and move on up just
A trifle further and reel and rock it,
Roll it over,
Roll over Beethoven rockin' in two by two

Well, early in the mornin' I'm a-givin' you a warnin'
Don't you step on my blue suede shoes
Hey diddle diddle, I am playin' my fiddle,
Ain't got nothin' to lose
Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news

You know she wiggles like a glow worm,
Dance like a spinnin' top
She got a crazy partner,
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 and dig these rhythm and blues.

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