Monday, August 22, 2011

Jerry Lieber

"She said 'I'm gonna mix it up right here in the sink'"

"You ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine"

"You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion"

Jerry Lieber, R.I.P. Like the greatest of artists, Lieber practiced alchemy: his songwriting transformed the utterly American idiom of rock lyric into a universal language. Only Lieber also invented the rock lyric. ("The warden threw a party in the county jail" - that is terrible law enforcement but what an opening.)

I get the chills just thinking of his discography: Hound Dog, Love Potion #9, Yakety Yak, Stand by me, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Kansas City, Jailhouse Rock...(and browsing around, I learned today that he also wrote "Jackson" and - I couldn't have guessed this one - "Stuck in the middle with you".)

Some obituaries: NYT, Village Voice (page has lots of song videos).

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