On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957)
Well, here we are in 1957 after a very long stay in 1956. Much as I enjoyed 1956 I was starting to think we were never going to leave! We’re back in the US of course so why not have some rock and roll? Today’s artist is one of the big names from that time – Jerry Lee Lewis. Back in 1957 he was trying to break into the music industry but not faring so well until he covered Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, a song that previous artists had failed to score a hit with.
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On is a fast-paced rock and roll song. The message seems a pretty simple one. Lewis is calling on a woman to join him as there is a lot of shaking going on, presumably he means dancing, dancing to rock and roll, at least I hope so. There are a couple of references to the said dancing taking place in a barn but not to worry, Lewis explains all this lucky lady has to do is stand on one spot and starting shaking along with the rest of the crowd.
Jerry Lee Lewis released his cut of the song in 1957 and it had a modest appearance in the charts. That was until Lewis went on The Steve Allen Show and played the song live. You can see the performance on YouTube and what a performance it is. Aside from Lewis’ vocals you have the privilege of his frenetic piano playing and some shaking himself as he works his way through the number. Its high energy and electrifying and it would help propel Lewis into the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.
Favourite songs so far:
Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)
Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1955)
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)
The Louvin Brothers – The Knoxville Girl (1956)