Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shake, Rattle & Roll!

As a young boy I was given a copy of Bill Haley's 'Rock Around the Clock' LP by an uncle who couldn't stand 'this new music'. "Shake, Rattle & Roll" was of course on there and I loved the line about 'the one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store' with all the innocence of a child. Nowadays I listen to Joe Turner's original rather than Haley's, and understanding now what 'one-eyed cat' and 'seafood store' refer to, the innocence is long gone but my love for the song still remains.

Both Turner's and Haley's recordings are from 1954 and whilst researching the history of "Shake, Rattle & Roll", I got side-tracked by the phrase 'rock & roll'. The first use of this seems to have been in black gospel, a reference to rockin and rollin in the arms of Moses. Given that r&b, soul, and even rap has its origins in black church this is unsurprising. Here's a wonderful lyric from 1939:

Waves on the ocean, waves in the sea,
But that gal of mine rolls just right for me
Rockin' rollin' mama, I love the way you rock and roll
You ease my troubled mind and pacify my weary soul
which appeared in a song called 'Rockin' Rollin' Mama'.

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