Monday, March 20, 2017

Chuck Berry - "Roll Over Beethoven" (Lyrics, Three YouTube Videos, & Comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides information about Rock & Roll (Rhythm & Blues) musician, singer, and songwriter Chuck Berry and showcases Chuck Berry's classic 1956 song "Roll Over Beethoven".

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Chuck Berry for his musical legacy. Rest in Peace.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these YouTube videos.

Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.[1]...

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance."[5] Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine's "greatest of all time" lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[6] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry's: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", and "Rock and Roll Music".[7] Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.[8]"...

"Roll Over Beethoven" is a 1956 hit single written by Chuck Berry, originally released on Chess Records, with "Drifting Heart" as the B-side. The lyrics of the song mention rock and roll and the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music. The title of the song is an imperative directed at the composer Ludwig van Beethoven to roll over in his grave in reaction to the new genre of music that Berry was promoting. The song has been covered by many other artists, including the Beatles and the Electric Light Orchestra. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 97 on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[2]

Inspiration and lyrics
According to Rolling Stone[3] and Cub Koda of Allmusic,[4] Berry wrote the song in response to his sister Lucy always using the family piano to play classical music when Berry wanted to play popular music. The lyric "roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news" refers to how classical composers would roll over in their graves upon hearing that classical music had given way to rock and roll.

In addition to the classical composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the lyrics mention or allude to several popular artists: "Early in the Mornin'" is the title of a Louis Jordan song; "Blue Suede Shoes" refers to the Carl Perkins song; and "hey diddle diddle", from the nursery rhyme "The Cat and the Fiddle", is an indirect reference to the Chess recording artist Bo Diddley, who was an accomplished violin player. Although the lyrics mention rocking and rolling, the music that the classics are supposed to step aside for is referred to as rhythm and blues. The lyric "a shot of rhythm and blues" was appropriated as the title of a song recorded by Arthur Alexander and others.

The lyric about a "rhythm revue" refers to old-style R&B shows, in which numerous artists appeared on one bill in front of a big band."...

(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


Example #1: Chuck Berry - Roll over Beethoven 1972 live

fritz5173, Uploaded on Jan 17, 2008

Chuck Berry - Roll over Beethoven 1972 live
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
deweypug, 2013
"Chuck blows into town with just his guitar, hires some amateur musicians and rocks the house... amazing."

MultiScooped, 2013
"I thought he was crazy when he toured without his own band... but when he's doing the guitar, it doesn't even matter, it's just that good!"

John A, 2013
"Here is an ultimate tribute to Chuck, the Beatles opened their 1st ever concert in the USA with this song..."

William Willberforce, 2016
"he invented the sound that so many copied and still copy."

scouserla1, 2016
"Correct. The Stones were truly influenced by Chuck. Jagger and Richards don't have a problem admitting it either. Elvis was never the king of rock n roll, this fella was. End of"

Wylie Miller, 2016
"Mos Def" would have to play young Chuck Berry! "

Dolfin3sque - Music Artist, 2016
"+Wylie Miller lol he already has, havnt you seen the film about chess records called cadillac records, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James, Mos Def as Chuck Berry"

Nam Yarasree, 2017
" "If Rock n'roll had a name, it could be called Chuck Berry" J. Lennon.
R.I.P., Chuck BerryđŸŒș"

Hudrun Hilde, 2017
"now he sings and swings and rocks with the angels....R.I.P. <3 ...we will never forget CHUCK BERRY!!!!" **** Example #2: Roll Over Beethoven (live) - Chuck Berry

LaforcedePoupouille, Uploaded on Oct 22, 2010

Roll Over Beethoven est une chanson Ă©crite en 1956 par Chuck Berry. Ce single, rapidement devenu un hit, est notoirement un des premiers enregistrements de rock 'n' roll.
Le titre de la chanson est une rĂ©fĂ©rence au compositeur de musique classique Ludwig van Beethoven et Ă  l'arrivĂ©e massive du rock 'n' roll sur les ondes radios, qui bousculent les mƓurs de l'Ă©poque.
L'introduction, reste incontournable, pour tous les guitaristes.

Google translate from French to English
Roll Over Beethoven is a song written in 1956 by Chuck Berry. This single, quickly become a hit, is notoriously one of the earliest recordings of rock 'n' roll.
The title of the song is a reference to the composer of classical music Ludwig van Beethoven and the massive arrival of rock 'n' roll on radio waves, which shake the manners of the time.
The introduction, remains unavoidable, for all guitarists.
Several commenters guessed that this performance was from a concert in the 1960s, probably in Europe.

Here are some selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Eleanor Howard, 2016
"It's Tchaikowsky -- composer of Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, 1812 Overture, many other classical masterworks. The first time I heard this clever & rockin' gem I was gassed by the very idea of the lyrics. Berry was a genius."

Esmeralda's Life Fandango, 2016
"How I love this guy's music. I remember back in the day when each of his new records came out. (Yes, I am an old broad!) I would skip lunches so I could use my lunch money to buy his newest 45. It cost 52 cents, tax included. The music shop was right across the street from my grade school. I would buy the records and rush right home to play them over and over. Chuck Berry and Little Richard were kings of rock and roll! Still are, in my opinion."

dlebret, 2017
"What a precious time that must have been."

Esmeralda's Life Fandango, 2017
"It was, indeed, dlebret. Of course, when you are about ten years old, what isn't to like? But I feel privileged to have been around to enjoy the start of rock and roll and so many careers of rock giants."

Example #3: Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry LIVE

Rabih Amhaz Published on Jul 28, 2012

Chuck Berry performing in a French TV show Live*

AMAZING Performance ! One of 500 Greatest song of all time !
* Several commenters corrected the description in this summary. This performance was actually in Belguim (1965). Here's one of those comments:
countryclassic100, 2014
"1965 - Belgium TV(RTB) with Willy Albimoor(piano) , Willy Donni(guitar), Ed Rogers(bass)"
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread
Jacqui Stephenson
"memories of a music lesson at school when our teacher asked us to bring something classical in .one of the lads brought this in !the teachers face was a picture .RIP CHUCK BERRY .KEEP ON ROCKING IN HEAVEN ."

Nickygino 1964
"Thank you Chuck for the tremendous and powerful legacy of Rock & Roll music you single handedly invented and left the world with. So many picked up a guitar and tried to copy what you did and became rock stars in their own right.Your songs are legendary and surpass generations. What would the world have been with out Chuck Berry? You are the roots, you are the true beginning,You are the true pioneer, you are the man that put it all together. I thank GOD that i had the chance to see you in concert several times over the years and LOVED every minute of it.Words couldn't describe seeing a true living legend perform.What would a Wurlitzer jukebox be without a couple of Chuck Berry records (remember those?) spinning in it??............Maybelline, Johnny B. Good, Roll over Beethoven, Rock & Roll music, School Days,..........TRUE ROCK & ROLL.........May GOD rest your soul Chuck and I THANK YOU for all the great music and truly the wonderful legacy you left us with and all the memories your songs brought! Rock on in heaven Chuck..........RIP............"

"Wow- Chuck Berry died! Thoughts: Elvis was a vocal genius who synthesized country, gospel, Western, blues into unique vocal performances of songs written by others. You could say Chuck Berry had a narrow range compared to Elvis and total respect to Elvis, but Chuck Berry still stands above and beyond Elvis for two main reasons: 1. Chuck wrote at least 30 hits- 2:45 rock and roll singles- which defined the form for the next 30 years. 2. Chuck Berry's guitar playing sound and style influenced a two generations of rock guitar players. Whenever I hear Roll Over Beethoven it sounds as fresh today as it did 60 years ago. I honestly can't say that about Elvis records- they sound dated- except the Sun Sessions. Thanks for reading."

Thomas Lang
"Decades ahead of it's time. Truth people were doing this in the 40's. Rock "n Roll was actually called black music and the general public was told not to listen to it. This was one of those "break" the barrier moments. The Beatles, the Stones, etc...guess what, this is where it came from. I'm still amazed at how some people deny it...."

Ryan Silver
"i wish i had the confidence of black men who were successful at this time. imagine the self esteem you must need to do your thing when most of the country hates you"

From Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethoven (1956)
King Bee, 2014
"If you'll notice, Chuck starts off so fast on the guitar riff that it catches Johnnie Johnson (piano) and Willie Dixon (bass) by surprise for a bit! However, they lock in by the end of the riff. With the still-uncredited trumpeter and violin, tenor sax L.C. Davis (later James Brown's first bandleader) and the solid beat of drummer Fred Below, Chuck hits the first verse dead on."

Robert Moyse, 2014
"If you look at the early days of rock and roll, many songs were composed by black people and performed by white people, for example Shake Rattle and Roll (Turner/Haley), and Sh-Boom (Chords/Crew-Cuts). Music, as with much of society at the time, was heavily segregated, if you want to know more, research the controversy on Ray Charles' What'd I Say."

Jennifur Sun, 2014
"sadly this was true one reason is because back in that time period Black music wasn't allowed in the home. i wish i could say i'm sorry to a lot of those people about how they were treated, it's too late and probably a lot of them wouldn't care. glad music has changed in that respect"

King Bee, 2014
"+Robert Moyse Here's an interesting fact...way back in 1951, the owners of WLOU-AM Louisville, then a struggling AM daytimer, divided their programming day roughly into thirds to get the ratings up. It was 1/3 each of standards, C&W, and for Louisville's large "Negro" community, R&B....standards didn't improve things, C&W rose ratings 36%...and the R&B programming upped ratings 228% over previous periods, with C.E. Hooper Ratings (now Nielsen Audio to you youngsters) saying that 1/4 of the rise was wiithin White radio households! WLOU re-tooled and became one of the USA's first five full-time R&B stations October 21, 1951. (The same weekend CBS-TV introduced The Eye logo, BTW.) "

WarpRulez, 2016
"Is it just my imagination, or does the beginning sound an awful lot like Johnny B. Goode?"

Franco, 2016
"Johnny B. Goode - Roll Over Beethoven - Let it Rock! - Dear Dad - Fun, Fun, Fun - Carol - Little Queenie - Back in the Usa...Etc"

Benny Biggums, 2016
"Most Chucky Berry Songs use the same guitar rift, just slightly different."

wifey, 2017
"It's the exact same arpeggio for the opening of the riff but changes it up a bit after that. Roll over beevtoven is in Eb and johnny b good is in Bb both 12 bar boogie woogie blues."

Chuck Berry - My Ding-A-Ling (1972)
David James, 2016
"Here's something to think about. This song, My Ding a Ling, was Chuck Berry's only #1 hit song and it didn't happen until 1972, well past Chuck's prime song era of the late 50s. Chuck has often been referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, and for good reason. His compositions are rock classics. Songs like Johnny B. Good, Roll Over Beethoven, No Particular Place to Go and Memphis, plus dozens more, made him a rock legend. So, why didn't any of those songs hit #1? Very simple. Racism. There were literally hundreds of radio stations in the 50s, especially in the South, that were owned by white individuals or corporations who refused to play what they considered "race" music. Some performers, like Pat Boone, stepped in and made vanilla cover versions of Chuck's classics. This divided the audience and prevented Chuck Berry from getting the #1 hits he deserved, and rightfully so. To me, Chuck was denied his rightful place on the Billboard Top 40 Charts, but he'll always be the Father of Rock and Roll."

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  1. TIL that my friend Joan named her daughter 'Nadine' because she liked the Chuck Berry song so much. RIP Mr. Berry.

    1. Thanks for your comment, slam 2011

      I confess that I don't recall Chuck Berry's song "Nadine". i looked it up as a result of your comment.

      Here's a link to a video of Chuck Berry performing "Nadine"