Meaning of Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins & Song Story

Rockabilly is considered the forerunner of classic rock and roll. It originated in the mid-fifties under the influence of country music and was aimed at white youth. For several years this direction enjoyed enormous popularity, but already in the early sixties it was replaced by other genres.

The first mega-hit in the rockabilly style is called the song Blue Suede Shoes (“Blue Suede Shoes”) by Carl Perkins (Carl Perkins). Suffice it to say that about two thousand cover versions of the legendary composition were subsequently recorded.

Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins Song History

The words and music were written by Carl Perkins. He was also the first to sing “Blue Suede Shoes”. However, in all articles about the history of the creation of the song, Johnny Cash is mentioned. According to The Man in Black, he gave Perkins the basic idea for the Blue Suede Shoes.

In the fall of 1955, Perkins, Cash, Elvis Presley and other artists toured the US South with concerts as part of the Louisiana Hayride tour. Johnny baited army tales and one day remembered a black pilot who called his black combat boots “blue suede shoes.” Then Johnny suggested that a colleague compose a song for this one, but Carl objected: “I don’t know anything about shoes. How can I write a song about shoes?

In December of that year, Perkins performed at the dance. Before him danced a young couple. During a pause between songs, Karl heard the guy grumble at the girl because she stepped on his feet. The musician looked at his shoes, saw blue suede shoes and remembered Johnny Cash’s idea.

Returning home, Perkins immediately took up a new song. He came up with a few lines and picked up chords for them. Karl called the draft version of the track Blue Swade because he did not know how to spell the word suede correctly.

He later recounted:

This is the easiest song I’ve ever written. I jumped out of bed at three in the morning so as not to forget her. The idea popped into my head as I watched the guys near the stage proud of their city shoes. You have to be really poor to think about new suede shoes. I came down from the bedroom that morning and scribbled the lyrics on a potato bag. We didn’t need to keep writing paper at home.

Drummer WS “Fluke” Holland, who performed with Carl Perkins, shared his memories of how the Blue Suede Shoes song was written:

I heard three or four different versions of almost everything that happened then. We worked with the same agency in 1955, so the Cash and Perkins ensembles were really friendly on tour. As for that time, we drove to Arkansas in John’s green ’53 Plymouth. He stretched out his leg, resting it on the back of the front seat, and said, “Carl, we should write a song about some shoes.” A little later, he added: “Why don’t we write it about blue suede shoes?”

Classic Rock, 2015

According to Holland, no one touched upon this topic during the trip. She resurfaced when they returned home and performed in a small club:

There was no stage, so we sat in the corner with Carl’s amplifier on the floor. Everyone was dancing practically next to the amplifier, and we heard this guy yelling at his girlfriend: “Don’t step on my new shoes!” That evening Carl went home and wrote the lyrics to Blue Suede Shoes.

Classic Rock, 2015

Recording and release

On December 17, 1955, Carl Perkins wrote the final version of Blue Suede Shoes, and on the nineteenth he recorded the song at Sun Records.

The single went on sale early next year. Some radio stations initially preferred to play the song Honey Don’t, which was released on the back of the record, but a little later Blue Suede Shoes completely overshadowed it.

In the US, the track hit three charts at once: country, R&B and pop.

Perkins was supposed to perform it on the Perry Como Show, but on the way he got into an accident in which he was seriously injured and his brother died. Karl later said:

I was eighty-five miles away from being the first rockabilly performer on national television.

Already in April, Blue Suede Shoes sold over a million copies. Subsequently, she was awarded all kinds of awards and got into several prestigious ratings:

  • “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;
  • “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, Rolling Stone;
  • 100 Most Important American Musical Works, NPR;
  • “National Recording Registry”, Library of Congress.

In 1985, Carl Perkins released a new version of the song, recording Blue Suede Shoes with the rockabilly band Stray Cats.

Videoclip Blue Suede Shoes

Next, you can watch the Blue Suede Shoes music video and listen to the legendary Carl Perkins song.

Cover versions

This is one of the most frequently recorded songs. It makes no sense to list all two thousand covers, but we should remember a few popular versions.

First of all, Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes must be mentioned. When Perkins’ track was still on the charts, RCA Victor, who had just signed the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, urged him to release the track as a single as soon as possible. Elvis agreed to sing the song, but asked to delay the release of the record so as not to cross the path of Carl.

Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes” open the Elvis Presley album. The single was released in September 1956 and peaked at number twenty on the pop chart. Elvis performed the song on TV three times.

Here is another Elvis Presley Blue Suede Shoes music video.

We also note several other versions. In 1965, The Dave Clark Five’s Blue Suede Shoes climbed to number seven on the UK Singles Chart.

In 1969, Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys’ Blue Suede Shoes stopped at number twenty-one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Johnny Rivers recorded Blue Suede Shoes in 1973. His version reached thirty-eighth place in the Hot 100.

Interesting Facts

  • Carl Perkins didn’t have blue suede shoes.
  • Blue Suede Shoes became the first track to simultaneously hit the US charts in three genres.
  • The lyrics of the song outraged the older generation, brought up on the work of Frank Sinatra. They often referred to it, saying that rock and roll is the music of the devil.
  • In Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry refers to Blue Suede Shoes. She is also mentioned in songs by Buddy Holly, Larry Williams, Motorhead, AC/DC, Beastie Boys and other musicians.

Blue Suede Shoes Carl Perkins Lyrics

Well it’s one for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready, now go cat go
But don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes

But you can knock me down, step in my face
Slander my name all over the place
And do anything that you want to do
But uh uh honey lay off of my shoes
And don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes

But you can burn my house, steal my car
Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar
Do anything that you want to do
But uh uh honey lay off of them shoes
And don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes

Version 1

Well it’s blue, blue, blue suede shoes
Blue, blue, blue suede shoes yeah
Blue, blue, blue suede shoes baby
Blue, blue, blue suede shoes
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes

Lyrics: Carl Perkins
Publisher: Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

  • This is an old counting rhyme, known since the nineteenth century. According to one version, it originated at the races.
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