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Posted: 2012 05-09


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Michelangelo jams with Leonardo

“Another word for ‘rock n roll’ is ‘Chuck Berry’.  Before him, there was nothing.”
                                                                                                            John Lennon

Warning:  Rock n roll hippies run amok on national television.

The master and the master.  The hero meets his hero.  The Beatle and The Beat — live on film.

Before the song even begins, there’s an historic and touching moment as Chuck instructs his young stammering student, “Johnny?”
“Be good.”

Seeing the two of them singing into the same microphone — Lennon with his barely-contained grin of giddley joy, and Chuck’s right back at him — it’s no wonder this remained a highlight for John the rest of his life.

And dig — this is only the third song John and the Elephant’s Memory Band had played together. They were an existing NYC combo that Lennon basically adopted, much the way Bob Dylan did The Band.  And that was just a couple of days before this performance.  With John & Yoko added, they became The Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band.  Featuring Chuck Berry.

(and that’s Chicago Eight defendant Jerry Rubin on the hand drum beside Yoko)

Johnny B. Goode ranks in every Top 10 All-Time rock n roll song list, but it really deserves top place overall.  It’s from the first chapter of Genesis in the history of rock n roll, and it put into song the eternal story of all rockers’ souls, our journey, our destiny.  In one way or another, all of us are Johnny B. Goode.  And Chuck laid down The Lick and the lyrics in ’55, before the beat was even a gleam in a Beatles eye.  How did he know?


Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens,
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode,
Who never ever learned to read or write well,
But could play a guitar just like a ringing a bell

Dig wild-eyed Chuck as he rips into it on national daytime unguarded housewife American television, still shootin’ at spookin’ the white folk.

And sing that 4th line, “Where lived a colored boy named Johnny B. Goode,” as it was first written.  And while you’re at it, remember Liverpool ain’t far from Louisiana, nor Newcastle from New Orleans.  And “Way back up in the woods” don’t have to mean trees.  Isolation and nothingness is everywhere.

His mother told him, "Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band;
Many people comin’ from miles around,
To hear you play your music when the sun go down;
Maybe someday your name will be in lights,
Saying, ‘Johnny B. Goode Tonight!’

It's every rock n roll kid’s dream that keeps them goin’.  It’s “A Hard Day’s Night,” every rags-to-riches movie or song — except this was the first.  And it’s ours.  And it told it all.  And every Like A Rolling Stone or Tommy or even Saturday Night Fever is the son of Johnny B. Goode.

The greatest rock n roll song ever written,
     played by the master who wrote it,
         with the master who rode it.

            It’s a great day’s night.

When I hear good rock n roll, the caliber of Chuck Berry, I just fall apart.  I have no other interest in life.  The world could be ending and I wouldn’t care.”

                                                                                                         John Lennon

And now . . . here’s a train wreck somewhere near Memphis, Tennessee.




Guest's picture


This review is so smooth -- it's like reading a jazz melody.

If music be the food of life, play on!


Guest's picture

Awesome song!

I used to have vinyl bootleg with Memphis on it from this same show.

More please!

Rich in NY

YouTube Uploader: Gary Shelton
Gary Shelton

Chuck Berry & John Lennon - Johnny B. Goode
singing johnny b goode

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