Saturday, March 28, 2009

Carl Perkins

Rockabilly was the rural face of rock and roll, which was, it seems, by its nature, the most urban of musics. And Carl Perkins was the most public face of rockabilly.

Given his status as a legend, it’s amazing how few hits he had - 3 on Sun, 2 on Columbia. But that’s how it is. This collection is his Sun recordings, which was a small part of his career, but the biggest part. It’s called Original Golden Hits, released by the Shelby Singleton Corporation, the company that bought out Sun Records, and I got it at the Country Music Centre.

Carl Perkins:

Blue Suede Shoes – “Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes” – one of the great refrains of rock and roll. This was the first track on the first Elvis ablum, and it’s a rather ironic twist to the history of rock and roll that this song has always been more closely associated with Elvis than with Perkins, notwithstanding the fact that Perkins wrote it, recorded first, and had the bigger hit. The song encapsulated, in its portrayal of the rock and roll kid, all fashion and attitude, the pheneomenon of rock as style, a consistent reality from then till now, though the blue suede shoes gave way to blings. A hit in the winter of 1956.
Boppin’ The Blues – 12 bar blues, rockabilly style. I love you baby, sings Carl, but I must rhythm bound. Bop cat bop. From the summer of '56.
Lend Me Your Comb – Ah the old story, gotta get home, it’s getting late, make myself look decent. There is a version of The Beatles doing this in the Star Club in Hamburg.
Only You – The Platters, hillbilly style…
Tennessee – A brag in song. So Carl plays up all those great things about Tennessee, especially the music, and throws in the atomic bomb towards the end. Hard to know how to take that. I was in Tennessee once, I was about 14, drove through with my family, was in Nashville, Chattanooga, didn’t spend much time.
Honey Don’t – Life with a perverse woman. The Beatles covered this on Beatles ’65, Ringo sang.
Matchbox – The Beatles did this one also, also with Ringo singing, this time on Something New.
Dixie Fried – Let’s all get Dixie fried yells Carl. No one was ever more serious about having fun than Carl…
Right String Baby But The Wrong YoYo – Great analogy. Gerry & The Pacemakers covered this.
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – The perils of being a celebrity. The Beatles covered this on Beatles ’65, George singing this time.
Your True Love – Carl’s love song is music of great celebration. The message is I love you, you love me, let’s dance! From the winter of '57.

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