Chuck Berry, the great poet-hero of rock and roll, died yesterday at the age of 90.
In one of his music’s definitive anthems, “School Day,” he gave us this little couplet:
Hail, hail, rock and roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Those lyrics, I think, are rock and roll’s most perfect poem.
But then, too, there’s this, from “Viva Viva Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a raucous highlight of the extraordinary album, San Francisco Dues:
Go ahead and jerk it, child, work it
Go ahead and shake it, I can take it
Oh, my soul—
Viva, viva, rock and roll.
If you haven’t heard that song, plug into some good speakers and play it now, loud. A few times. I’ll post it below.
A purer, more joyous celebration of rock and roll you can’t hope to find.
There’s much more to be said about this man and his music, but for now I’ll leave it at that, and at this:
Thank God for Chuck Berry.
P.S. This Saturday I’ll play an hour of Chuck Berry songs on the radio. I hope you’ll tune in 9 to 10 a.m. on Birmingham Mountain Radio, roll down or throw open your windows, and (again) play it loud.
P.S. also: I promised Part Two of my Ethel Harper biography this week, and got a little slowed down. If not tonight, it will be up tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you missed it, here’s Part One.