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Morning Song – Roll Over Beethoven

March 24, 2017

“Roll over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news….”

Chuck Berry is one of the great lyricists of the past 70 years, so when he addresses Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in his 1956 single, “Roll Over Beethoven“, it’s best to assume he knew exactly what he was doing in namechecking two men responsible for some of the lushest, most romantic, grandest and most symphonic music of the 19th century.

Which is why you can trace pretty much every concept album and orchestral arrangement—from BeyoncĂ©’s Lemonade to the Moody Blues’ Days Of Future Passed to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon to Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” to the Bomb Squad’s “Wall Of Noise” to (well, I could go on…but you get the idea)—back to a four-piece band in a little studio on 2120 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago.

Chess Records didn’t even make albums at the time (45s only), but Chuck Berry had the vision and the ambition to call out (and to recognize as kindred spirits) the most acclaimed composers of the European musical tradition…and to stake a claim for what the nascent American musical tradition would become.

“Roll over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today….”


From → Music

  1. Patrick Dober permalink

    Compare the opening guitar riff in ‘Rollover Beethoven’ with the same in the Beach Boys ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’.

  2. Good catch, thanks!

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