Chuck Berry's spirit lives on through countless songs

AP

Print Article

  • David Gaule, from Springfield, Ill. drops off flowers at the statue of music legend Chuck Berry on the Delmar Loop, in University City on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Berry died earlier today at the age of 90. After hearing Berry died Gaule drove to St. Louis from Springfield to pay his respects. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

  • 1

    FILE - In this Oct. 17, 1986 file photo, Chuck Berry performs during a concert celebration for his 60th birthday at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Mo. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at the age of 90. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

  • 2

    Joe Albanese replaces an old mural with a new painting that will feature the album cover of a new Chuck Berry album at Delmar Loop in St. Louis on Saturday, March 18, 2017. They were surprised to hear that the music legend died as they were working on the project. Earlier in the day, police announced Berry died at the age of 90. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

  • 3

    FILE - In this Saturday, March 28, 2009 file photo, American guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry performs during the "Rose Ball" in Monaco. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at age 90. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • 4

    FILE - In this Saturday, May 30, 2009 file photo, Chuck Berry performs at The Domino Effect, a tribute concert to New Orleans rock and roll musician Fats Domino, at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at the age of 90. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • 5

    FILE - In this Saturday, March 28, 2009 file photo, American guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry appears at the "Rose Ball" in Monaco. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at age 90. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • David Gaule, from Springfield, Ill. drops off flowers at the statue of music legend Chuck Berry on the Delmar Loop, in University City on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Berry died earlier today at the age of 90. After hearing Berry died Gaule drove to St. Louis from Springfield to pay his respects. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

  • 1

    FILE - In this Oct. 17, 1986 file photo, Chuck Berry performs during a concert celebration for his 60th birthday at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Mo. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at the age of 90. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

  • 2

    Joe Albanese replaces an old mural with a new painting that will feature the album cover of a new Chuck Berry album at Delmar Loop in St. Louis on Saturday, March 18, 2017. They were surprised to hear that the music legend died as they were working on the project. Earlier in the day, police announced Berry died at the age of 90. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

  • 3

    FILE - In this Saturday, March 28, 2009 file photo, American guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry performs during the "Rose Ball" in Monaco. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at age 90. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • 4

    FILE - In this Saturday, May 30, 2009 file photo, Chuck Berry performs at The Domino Effect, a tribute concert to New Orleans rock and roll musician Fats Domino, at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at the age of 90. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • 5

    FILE - In this Saturday, March 28, 2009 file photo, American guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Berry appears at the "Rose Ball" in Monaco. On Saturday, March 18, 2017, police in Missouri said Berry has died at age 90. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

NEW YORK (AP) — Behind so many great rock bands and rock songs looms the music of Chuck Berry.

Like the time a teenage Keith Richards ran into a childhood friend, Mick Jagger, at a train station in England and discovered they were musical soul mates.

"You know I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles," Richards wrote to a relative in April 1962. "I was holding one of Chuck's records when a guy I knew at primary school ... came up to me. He's got every Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have, too."

Berry died Saturday at age 90, leaving behind not only a core of rock classics such as "Johnny B. Goode" and "Roll Over Beethoven," but countless descendants in songs clearly indebted to him in sound and in spirit.

You could assemble a heavenly mix tape just of the hits built around his guitar work. You can hear it overtly in the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," which closes with a near-verbatim homage to "Johnny B. Goode," in Bob Seger's "Get Out of Denver" and the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun," or in brief passages to songs that might not otherwise remind anyone of Berry, like the Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling" or the Who's "Who are You."

"It started with Chuck Berry. He inspired us all," tweeted Rod Stewart, whose Berry-influenced songs included "Hot Legs" and "Stay With Me," a hit when he was with the Faces. "The 1st album I bought was Chuck's 'Live at the Tivoli' and I was never the same."

Berry also patented an animated, stream of consciousness storytelling style that artists have been using ever since. Listen to Bob Dylan unfurl his story of paranoia in "Subterranean Homesick Blues" or his old man's boast in "Thunder On the Mountain," or the Rolling Stones' mockery in "Respectable," songs inconceivable without Berry's "Maybellene" and "Too Much Monkey Business" among others. Berry's rocking groove and comic spirit inspire Creedence Clearwater Revival's sci-fi "It Came Out of the Sky," while Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" consciously brings Berry's teen world into adult life.

__

So now sweet 16's turned 31

You get to feelin' weary when the workday's done

Well all you got to do is get up and into your kicks

If you're in a fix

Come back baby, rock and roll never forgets

___

Critic Peter Guralnick notes that Berry's influence is both literal, in the way Richards might consciously imitate one of his riffs, and more general in his poetry and novelistic detail. The Cadillac in Berry's "Nadine" is not just a Cadillac, but a "coffee colored" Cadillac. He says one of Dylan's great accomplishments was absorbing Berry's gifts into his own style.

"Dylan called Berry the 'Shakespeare of rock n' roll' and with good reason," Guralnick said Sunday. "Had the Nobel committee been open to popular musicians before Dylan's era, they might have given the prize to Berry."

Berry didn't just create the music for so many rock n' roll lives but helped invent the characters — the bored student, the groupie, the would-be guitar hero — and placed them in an American landscape of restlessness, aspiration and motion. The simple pleasure, and underlying boredom, of The Beach Boys' "I Get Around" were the suburban Californians' take on Berry's "No Particular Place to Go." Springsteen's "Born to Run" is rock romance and adventure in the grandest Berry style.

___

In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

Sprung from cages on Highway 9

Chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected

And steppin' out over the line

___

Up ahead, and moving along, was Berry and the Garden State adventures of "You Can't Catch Me":

___

New Jersey Turnpike in the wee wee hours

I was rollin' slowly 'cause of drizzlin' showers

Here come a flat-top, he was movin' up with me

Then come wavin' by me in a little' old souped-up jitney

I put my foot on my tank and I began to roll

    

Print Article

Read More Entertainment

Cheryl and partner Liam Payne announce birth of first son

AP

March 26, 2017 at 2:35 pm | LONDON (AP) — Former Girls Aloud star Cheryl and her partner Liam Payne of One Direction fame have announced the birth of their first child. Cheryl, 33, said on Instagram Saturday night that thei...

Comments

Read More

Reynolds and Fisher honored with humor, music and dance

AP

March 25, 2017 at 5:05 pm | LOS ANGELES (AP) — Laughter, music and the tapping of dancing shoes reverberated throughout a public memorial to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, which loved ones say is just how the actresses woul...

Comments

Read More

Playhouse to present ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

March 24, 2017 at 11:05 am | Coeur d'Alene Press ...

Comments

Read More

British whodunit coming to Lake City stage

March 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press COEUR d’ALENE — Something British, musical and murderous is afoot at Lake City High School. The school’s performing arts program is preparing to present the musical murder mystery spoof “Something’...

Comments

Read More

X