Saturday, October 21, 2006

Johnny B. Goode

I suspect if asked to name a singer/songwriter as "America's most evocative post-war poet" many would choose Bob Dylan, for his lyricism, or maybe Johhny Cash or Bruce Springsteen, for their description of white, blue collar life. I've got to say though, I was impressed with Roger Winfield's choice in Guardian Letters today.
Rock 'n' roll's defining guitarist and its greatest songwriter (In praise of ... Chuck Berry, October 18) is also America's most evocative poet since the second world war. The teenager-driven cars (No Particular Place to Go), the tight dresses, lipstick and high-heel shoes of the teenager who has to return to being a schoolgirl at the beginning of each week (Sweet Little Sixteen), the would-be pop-star guitarist (Johnny B Goode), the poor country boy determined to get to California for a better life, despite the uncomfortable journey in a Greyhound bus, and the dangers lurking in the deep south (The Promised Land). Chuck Berry paints the definitive picture of increasingly independent teenagers growing up in the land of opportunity that was emerging into the light from the dark days of McCarthyism.
Roger Winfield
Maybe, Roger, but if only we had never heard that poetic classic... My ding-a-ling!