Rolling Stones songs: You Can’t Catch Me
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New Jersey Turnpike in the wee wee hours/ I was rolling slowly ’cause of drizzlin’ showers…
Written by: Chuck Berry
Recorded: Regent Sounds and IBC Studios, London, England, June 24-26 and Sept. 2 1964
Bruce Springsteen wasn’t the first to write rock songs about the liberating power of a fast car – Chuck Berry also had a fascination with automobiles, which he sings about here (part of the song takes place on the New Jersey Turnpike, a road Springsteen is quite familiar with).
“This was a yearning which I had since I was aged seven to drive about in a car,” Berry told Record Mirror in 1967. “It was my fascination for the roads, for driving, motoring, which prompted me to write those songs.”
Driving way too fast under the moonlight with your baby in the car while listening to rock and roll on the radio… it doesn’t get any better.
At the end of this song, we find out that the car is named Maybellene, referring to Berry’s earlier automotive hit.
Musically, this song was influenced by a Muddy Waters track called “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” which has a nearly identical guitar lick in the intro.
One of Berry’s early singles, this song surprisingly had no chart success – it didn’t even make the R&B tally where all of his previous singles cracked the Top 10.
Berry performed this song in the 1956 film Rock, Rock, Rock, where he can be seen doing his famous duckwalk.
John Lennon used the guitar riff and the “here come old flattop” line in the Beatles song “Come Together.” Morris Levy, who owned the publishing rights to “You Can’t Catch Me,” later sued. As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to include a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” on his 1975 solo album Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The Rolling Stones recorded this in 1964. Chuck Berry was one of their heroes, especially to Keith Richards.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
In “You Can’t Catch Me,” Chuck Berry draws on a real-life experience.
While returning from a concert in New York at the wheel of his Buick, a
number of convertibles drew up and tried to race him on the New Jersey
Turnpike. Before long a patrol car arrived on the scene. Everything turned
out all right in the end, however, and all that remained was for Chuck Berry
to transform the incident into a song—and embellish it with a highly
attentive girlfriend and a radio playing rock ’n’ roll.
“You Can’t Catch Me” was the third song that Chuck Berry recorded at
Chess Studios—on May 21, 1955 to be released the following year (with
“Havana Moon” as the B-side), it failed to chart. On the other hand, it was
featured on the original soundtrack of Rock, Rock, Rock (1956), a movie by
Will Price glorifying the pioneers of rock ’n’ roll.
The Rolling Stones incorporated “You Can’t Catch Me” into their
playlist a mere twelve years after originally recording the song. An initial
cut was made on June 24–26, 1964, at Regent Sound Studios, while the
version on the album dates from September 28 to 29.
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?
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