As John Lennon once said, "If you tried to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." Berry's advice (much like that of Strunk & White): "When you're writing a song, nouns and verbs will carry you right through."
November 02, 2009
Editorial Notebook: Memphis
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" has been haunting me - the metrical precision of the lyrics, its emotional realism and, of course, the revelation in the penultimate line.
In the Times op-ed piece linked above, Klinkenborg mentions that "Memphis" reminds us how much country was in Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll. Yes, Berry's first hit was a country parody, Maybellene. But he also wrote lyrics like ---
Milo Venus was a beautiful lass,
had the world in the palm of her hand.
She lost both her arms in a wrasslin' match,
to meet a brown-eyed handsome man.
And of course --
Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.