“Johnny B. Goode”


I would’ve posted a clip of Chuck Berry playing this live because he was/is such a dynamic performer (and I adore the duck walk).  But I didn’t like the way he changed the phrasing and rhythm live.  And I didn’t like that most of the live versions I looked at cut off the opening riff.  That opening is one of the finest in rock history.

Berry plays guitar like no one else.  I know he doesn’t do anything fancy or special with his guitar.  He doesn’t use strings imported from Italy, or pad the insides with wadded up newspaper, or anything even remotely unusual.  But he made that instrument sound like no one else ever could.  Not the notes or anything.  There is just something so distinctive about Berry’s playing.  To quote my favorite line from the song, “he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell.”

Is this song about Chuck Berry’s own experience?  Who knows?  I know that this is one of the first songs I think of when I think of Rock & Roll.  I know that it helped define the genre, helped make it what it is today.  I know that to this day it’s one of my favorite songs; I can literally listen to it forever.  It would be one of the songs I had on my desert island iPod.  (Hey, that’s an interesting twist on the desert island them.  Maybe I’ll run with it one of these days.)

Oldies on Monday seems to becoming a theme.  Anyone out there have any opinion on whether or not I should keep it up?


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