The famous song Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry can be considered the first rock and roll composition about the American dream. Her character is a poor and uneducated boy who plays the guitar brilliantly and hopes to get rich with his talent.
Subsequently, rock musicians have used this storyline countless times, but Johnny B. Goode is considered a classic of the genre, as evidenced by the huge number of covers recorded on it.
The history of the creation and meaning of the song Johnny B. Goode
The story that Chuck Berry was referring to himself in Johnny B. Goode would be nice, but the song is only a stretch to consider autobiographical. He doesn’t really look like the character described.
Chuck was born in St. Louis, Missouri, not around New Orleans. He came from the middle class and, of course, could read and write. Moreover, Berry even received a degree in cosmetology, worked in his specialty and this craft saved up enough money to buy a house for the family.
And Berry himself says that he originally wrote Johnny B. Goode with Johnnie Johnson in mind, the pianist and composer with whom he played for many years. However, Chuck still insists that Johnny from the song is partly himself.
The first version of the text referred to the “colored boy” (“colored boy”), but Berry felt that in a country where racial discrimination flourished, it would be better to keep silent about dark skin. Otherwise, many radio stations could simply not put it on the air. So Johnny B Good became just a country boy (“country boy”).
As a surname for the hero of the song, Chuck Berry chose the name of the street Goode Avenue, where he grew up. By the way, the full name of Johnny B. Goode is pronounced in English in the same way as the phrase Johnny, be good. It can be translated into Russian in different ways, but the simplest version is: “Johnny, be good.”
Release and achievements
Berry recorded Johnny B. Goode in 1958. The song was an immediate hit that appealed to both white and black audiences. It peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot R&B Sides.
Subsequently, Chuck used the image of Johnny in the songs Bye Bye Johnny, Go Go Go, Johnny B. Blues and even called one of the albums Concerto in B. Goode.
Rolling Stone ranked Johnny B. Goode at number seven on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and Q magazine ranked it at number 42 on its 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
Johnny B. Goode cover versions
The song has received an incredible number of covers. Over the years it has been sung by The Beatles, Aerosmith, Sex Pistols, BB King, Buddy Holly, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and dozens (if not hundreds) of other performers.
- The guitar riff that starts Johnny B. Goode almost exactly copies the solo from Ain’t That Just Like a Woman (1946) by American jazzman Louis Jordan. Originally performed by guitarist Carl Hogan.
- In 2000, Johnny Johnson sued Chuck Berry for a multi-million dollar royalty he was allegedly entitled to as a co-writer of the song. The judge dismissed the suit on the grounds that too much time had elapsed. Johnny died five years later at the age of eighty.
- The song Johnny B. Goode is often used during election campaigns by politicians named John, as John Kerry and John McCain did.
- Goode Avenue in St. Louis is no more. In 1986, it was renamed Annie Malorie Drive, after the woman who funded the local orphanage.
- Allusions to the title of the song are common in modern culture: Johnny B. Bad (Johnny Johnson’s solo album), Johnny C. Bad (a song from the computer game Final Fantasy IV), Stewie B. Goode (Family Guy).
- Johnny B. Goode was included in the Voyager Golden Record.
- Johnny B. Goode can be heard in many feature films, but she was most pronounced in the film Back to the Future.
Johnny B. Goode Lyrics
Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well,
But he could play the guitar like ringing a bell
Go Johnny Go
Johnny B. Goode
He carried his guitar in a gunny sack
Or sit beneath the trees by the railroad track
Oh, the engineers used to see him sitting in the shade,
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
The People passing by, they would stop and say,
“Oh my that little country boy could play”
His mother told him, “Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun goes down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying Johnny B. Goode tonight”
Johnny B. Goode lyrics by Chuck Berry
Far away in Louisiana, very close to New Orleans
Somewhere in the forest among the evergreen trees
There was a hut made of clay and branches
It had a country boy named Johnny B Good,
who never learned to read or write well,
But he could play the guitar amazingly
Come on, come on
Come on Johnny come on
Come on, come on
Johnny B Good
He carried his guitar in a burlap sack
Or sat under the trees near the railroad
Oh, the engineers often saw him sitting in the shade
Playing along to the tune that trains
People passing by stopped and said:
“Oh my God, this country boy really knows how to play”
His mother told him: “One day you will be a man
And lead a big orchestra
Many will travel from afar,
To hear you play your music after the sun goes down
Maybe one day your name will be on fire
On the poster “Johnny B Good is playing today”
Tabs Johnny B. Goode
The Johnny in “Johnny B. Goode” is, to a certain extent, myself, although I intended it for Johnny Johnson.