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Rolling Stones songs: Under the Boardwalk
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
From the park you’ll hear/ The happy sound of a carousel/ You can almost taste the hot dogs/ And french fries they sell…
Written by: Resnick/Young
Recorded: Regent Sounds Studios, London, England, Sept. 28-29 1964
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
The session to record this song was scheduled for May 20, 1964, but The Drifters lead singer Rudy Lewis was found dead that morning (the cause of death is unclear, but likely either a drug overdose or heart attack). The session was rescheduled for the next day, and Johnny Moore was called in to replace Lewis. Moore was with The Drifters in 1958 when their manager fired everyone in the band and brought in new members. He was a convenient replacement for Lewis, and stayed on as their main vocalist.
The group was distraught over Lewis’ death, and their subsequent performance added a tinge of melancholy to the song, which is about spending some time under a seaside boardwalk with a love interest, out of sight from the crowds above.
Many artists have covered this, including The Rolling Stones, John Mellencamp, The Jackson 5, and Bruce Willis.
The Drifters released a sequel to this a few months later called “I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes.” It hit #33 in the US.
This was written by Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young. Resnick also wrote “Good Lovin'” for The Rascals; Young wrote songs for Herman’s Hermits and formed a band called Fox.
It was Atlantic Records’ head Jerry Wexler who came across the song at Resnick and Young’s publishing company, and decided that The Drifters should record it. The group wasn’t thrilled with the song, but Wexler had final say on all songs they recorded, and made it clear that they were going to record “Under The Boardwalk.
In a previous Drifters hit, they had a tryst with their baby Up On The Roof. In this song, they decide that it’s too hot up there, and seek out a cooler location. They sing in the first line: “when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof…”
This song was produced by Bert Berns along with the English arranger Mike Leander. Berns had just taken over as The Drifters producer, replacing Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were busy with other projects. Berns stayed on as the group’s producer until 1967, when he died of a heart attack.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
Boardwalks tend to run along the shore of beach resorts, particularly on the East Coast. Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young, who wrote “Under the Boardwalk,” have made it the meeting place of a couple who are deeply in love. This apparently innocuous love story has tragic associations in real life, however. The Drifters recorded the song on May 21, 1964, the day after their lead singer Rudy Lewis (who had taken over from Ben E. King) died from an overdose. Rather than cancel the session, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic asked Johnny Moore to sing lead vocal in his place, which explains the mood of sadness and nostalgia. It also no doubt explains the success of the single, which peaked at number 4 on the Billboard charts on August 22, 1964. The Rolling Stones recorded the song on September 2, 1964, just two months after the release of the Drifters’ single.
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?