♫ Johnny B. Goode ♫

Now I know this one predates some of you, but you’ve likely heard it anyway, for it is considered one of the most recognizable songs in the history of popular music.

From The Guardian, 21 June 2007 …

The song was written by Chuck Berry while he was on tour in New Orleans in 1958. In the official version of events, supplied to Rolling Stone magazine by Berry himself, the song is autobiographical: A poor boy from a rustic corner of the Deep South with little education and few prospects masters the electric guitar and becomes the leader of a famous band. In fact, Berry was not from the Deep South; he grew up on Goode Street in Saint Louis, an unusually cosmopolitan Midwestern city with a rich musical tradition. Nor was he unschooled; he was the first and perhaps the last songwriter to use the word “omit” in a pop song (Little Queenie). And he was certainly not a hick from the sticks; he had a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology. What’s more, the song was originally written for the famous pianist Johnnie Johnson, with whom Berry had worked for years. A half-century later, Johnson would sue Berry, contending that he had co-authored many of his colleague’s hits, but the case was thrown out of court, as these cases usually are. Thus, other than not being from the South, or a yokel, or an illiterate, or white, or bearing the name “Johnny,” Berry was exactly like the character in his most famous song.

Johnny B Goode was released halfway through Dwight Eisenhower’s dreary second administration, when black people were still routinely being lynched in the Deep South, so for obvious marketing reasons the original lyric “little coloured boy” was changed to “little country boy”. 

Johnny B. Goode
Chuck Berry

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 so well
But he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track
Oh, the engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
People passing by they would stop and say
“Oh my what that little country boy could play”

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

His mother told him “someday you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming 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”

Go go
Go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go
Johnny B. Goode

Songwriters: Chuck Berry
Johnny B. Goode lyrics © Ole Media Management Lp

22 thoughts on “♫ Johnny B. Goode ♫

  1. Jill, Chuck Berry and Little Richard made rock-n-roll soar. Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis made more white audiences aware, but the first two are under-valued in what they did. Keith

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  2. The early rockers may have given the music a beat, but this song gave it licence to expand. I was brought up first on Hank Williams, Sr. Then on Elvis Presley. But Johnny B. Goode made my feet dance and my heart yearn for more. Here was the real birth of rock ‘n roll, if you were to ask me.

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