Thursday, 13 May 2010
No Particular Place to Go
This week The Milkshakers have been playing Chuck Berry’s song ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’. Whilst researching the back story to the song I can accross a great little book titled ‘All Shook Up’; How Rock’n Roll Changed America by Glenn C. Altschuler. Altschuler has some fascinating stuff to say about the song and Berry in general. Basically, Altschuler recons that Chuck Berry, more than any other 1950’s rock ‘ roll star, embodied the threat to white middle class America. He was black, supremely talented and overtly sexual. Just look at the lyrics to ‘No Particular Place to Go’!
Riding along in my calaboose
Still trying to get her belt a-loose
All the way home I held a grudge
For the safety belt that wouldn't budge
Crusin' and playing the radio
With no particular place to go
Altschuler explains that early blues and rock ‘n roll often employed a songwriting technique known as ‘masking’. Singers would sing songs about controversial subjects like sex, prejudice and discrimination and cleverly disguise them as being sweet and innocent. No Particular Place to Go is supposedly about a date that goes wrong due to a malfunctioning safety belt. But it doesn’t take the Marquis De Sade to read a rather ruder subtext. Hell, when you think about it, in this song good old Chuck basically has a girl tied up in the front of his car...maybe Chuck was an early fan of S&M? Then again maybe it’s just a pop song and I’m a dirty bastard.
Buy the book here. ‘All Shook Up’; How Rock’n Roll Changed America. Glenn C. Altschuler sure is one smart cookie!