An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!
So… yeah. Chuck Berry.
It is flat out impossible to string together any amount of words to properly convey what Chuck Berry’s musical contributions meant to the world. There’s just no way to wrap your head around such a long and important career. Not that people won’t try, though. These days, when someone famous passes away, there begins a cycle of tributes that tend to seem…fairly disingenuous. Not that they shouldn’t be done because one of the main goals of the internet (myself and this article included) is to convey some sort of message, and tribute articles are sometimes part of the job. But unlike so many articles you’ll see in the coming days, I’m not going to pretend that I had Chuck Berry albums queued up on a regular basis.
However, I do believe his music is a touchstone for countless artists and something so ingrained in our own minds that Berry pretty much is the embodiment of rock and roll. His music is such a fundamental force that it’s like arithmetic or tying our shoes. We know it without thinking and it’s something we certainly don’t ever appreciate enough.
So, with him gone, the only way I see fit to mourn him is to celebrate what he gave us. Here are a few of my go-to Chuck Berry tunes.
“Johnny B. Goode”
Cards on the table, I don’t think I’ve ever watched this whole performance until today. I knew the song from a young age thanks to a mom who loved the oldies station and, of course, because of Marty McFly’s version in Back to the Future.
Just think about this performance and the minds it must have melted back in 1958. Berry was fearless in shredding his guitar and completely in his own element dancing around the stage. Look at the audience and how most are unsure whether or not to even move. The only thing more satisfying than that is this performance with John Lennon. Not only does it feel like Lennon and company are struggling to keep up with Berry’s energy, but they also shut Yoko Ono’s microphone off during the song so she can’t make her signature nonsense noises over the song. (1:50 vs 5:33 marks for reference.)
“Rock And Roll Music”
Hey, they’re hits for a reason, right? “Rock and Roll Music” is one of those songs that just wiggles its way into people’s heads without warning. A song that most people know without really remembering ever listening to it. It’s been in so many movies and TV shows over the years that I think we all learned it through some sort of musical osmosis. Plus, I suppose we mostly have the Beatles version to thank for that as well. But under no circumstances do we thank the Beach Boys version. It’s basically a Kidz Bop song.
Hey! Let’s talk about dicks!
Like, there’s no way around this. This is just one big sing-along all about dicks. I unabashedly love this stupid song and it’s not just because it was The Simpsons that first
turned me onto introduced me to it. But a few things. First, who goes swimming across something called Turtle Creek with their bits hanging about? And secondly, I am very disappointed that SNL never had Tim Meadows parody this because it seems his lispy Ladies Man voice (and overall creepiness) is directly inspired by Berry.
What are your favorite Chuck Berry songs? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Image: Universal Pictures
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)