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Chuck Berry Maybellene

Rock and Roll

The song “Maybellene” about fast cars and a cheating girlfriend was written by Chuck Berry based on a traditional fiddle tune called “Ida Red.” The story is that Berry heard and liked the recording by Bob Willis & The Texas Playboys on a country radio station in St. Louis. He reworked it and called the song “Ida Mae.” Leonard Chess of Chess Records thought the song and singer had potential, so they recorded it. Chess asked Berry to change the name, not wanting it to be mistaken for “Ida Red.” There are different versions of how the song got its name. One is that Berry named it after a cow in a children’s nursery rhyme. Another is that there was a package of Maybelline mascara in the record label office, and Chess gave it that title (with a different spelling to avoid copyright issues). Some pressings of the record give credit to DJ Alan Freed, for payola and airplay, and to Russ Fratto, who had been lending money to Chess. Alan Freed did indeed give the record a great deal of airplay. In 1955, the song went to #5 on the Pop Chart and #1 on the R&B chart. It was Berry’s first hit single. On the track were Chuck Berry (vocals & guitar), Johnnie Johnson (piano), Willie Dixon (bass), Jerome Green (maracas), and Jasper Thomas or Ebby Hardy (drums).

“Maybellene” is considered to be one of the pioneering rock and roll classics. There have been numerous covers by 70 or more artists. These include Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, George Jones, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Foghat, Gerry & the Pacemkers, Johnny Rivers, and Chubby Checker.

“Maybellene” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988. It is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” Rolling Stone magazine has it on its list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Chuck Berry (October 18, 1926- March 18, 2017) was a  rock and roll legend, music pioneer, and a national treasure.

Here are the lyrics to “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry:

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
You done started doing the thing you used to do.

As I was motivatin’ over the hill
I saw Maybellene in a coup de ville.
A Cadillac a-rollin’ on the open road,
Nothin’ will outrun my V8 Ford.
The Cadillac doin’ ’bout ninety-five,
She’s bumper to bumper rollin’ side by side.

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
You done started back doing the thing you used to do.

A Cadillac pulled up ahead of the Ford,
The Ford got hot and wouldn’t do no more.
It then got cloudy and it started to rain,
I tooted my horn from a passin’ lane
The rain water blowin’ all under my hood,
I knew that was doin’ my motor good.

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
You done started back doing the thing you used to do.

Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
You done started back doing the thing you used to do.

The motor cooled down, the heat went down
And that’s when I heard that highway sound.
The Cadillac a-sittin’ like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten a half a mile ahead. T
he Cadillac lookin’ like it’s sittin’ still
And I caught Maybellene at the top of the hill.

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
You done started back doing the thing you used to do.

If you are interested in reading about and listening to another song by Chuck Berry, please click here for  “Johnny B. Goode.”

For More Golden Oldies Music       

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for the Daily Doo Wop YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “Mabellene” by Chuck Berry.

3 Comments

  1. […] other songs by Chuck Berry: “Maybellene” and “You Never Can […]

  2. […] here for information and a music video of “Johnny B. Goode.” For more songs: “Maybellene” and “You Never Can […]

  3. […] other songs by Chuck Berry: “Johnny B. Goode” and “Maybellene,” which are on Pass the Paisley’s sister site The Daily Doo […]

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