Rock And Roll Music

Beatles For Sale album artworkWritten by: Berry
Recorded: 18 October 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 4 December 1964 (UK), 15 December 1964 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
Paul McCartney: bass guitar, piano
George Harrison: acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano

Available on:
Beatles For Sale
Anthology 2
Live At The BBC

Written by Chuck Berry, Rock And Roll Music was a staple of The Beatles’ live repertoire between 1959 and 1966. They recorded it for their fourth UK album, Beatles For Sale.

Download on iTunes


The song had been a hit for Berry in 1957. The Beatles selected it for Beatles For Sale, along with a number of other rock ‘n’ roll standards, when they were running short of original material.

In addition to their studio version, The Beatles also recorded Rock And Roll Music for several BBC shows, including Pop Go The Beatles and Saturday Club; a performance from the latter, taped on 25 November 1964 and first broadcast on Boxing Day, was included on the Live At The BBC collection.

A later live version, recorded at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo in June 1966, shortly before The Beatles abandoned touring, appears on Anthology 2.

In the studio

Rock And Roll Music was one of John Lennon’s great vocal performances, and a thrilling rendition by the group as a whole. Owing to their familiarity with the song, it took The Beatles just one take to record.

The basic track was recorded with drums and bass on track one, two guitars on the second, and Lennon’s vocals on track three. Afterwards Lennon, McCartney and George Martin all overdubbed a piano part on a Steinway together.

The group recorded it on 18 October 1964. During the same nine-hour session they also recorded Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!, Mr Moonlight, I Feel Fine, I’ll Follow The Sun, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby and Words Of Love. Rock And Roll Music was the penultimate song to be tackled.

Lyrics

Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be rock roll music
If you wanna dance with me
If you wanna dance with me

I’ve got no kick against modern jazz
Unless they try to play it too darn fast
And lose the beauty of the melody
Until they sound just like a symphony

That’s why I go for that rock and roll music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be rock and roll music
If you wanna dance with me
If you wanna dance with me

I took my lover on over ‘cross the tracks
So she can hear my man awail a sax
I must admit they have a rocking band
Man, they were blowing like a hurricane

That’s why I go for that rock and roll music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be rock and roll music
If you wanna dance with me
If you wanna dance with me

Way down south they had a jubilee
Them Georgia folks they had a jamboree
They’re drinking home brew from a wooden cup
The folks are dancing, they got all shook up

And started playing that rock and roll music
Any old time you use it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be rock and roll music
If you wanna dance with me
If you wanna dance with me

Don’t care to hear ‘em play a tango
I’m in the mood to take a mambo
It’s way too early for a congo
So keep on rocking that piano

That’s why I go for that rock and roll music
Any old time you use it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be rock and roll music
If you wanna dance with me
If you wanna dance with me

20 Responses to “Rock And Roll Music”

  1. Deadman

    According to Geoff Emerick, in “Here, There and Everywhere.” Paul plays piano, and George plays bass on the “Beatles for Sale” version.

    Reply
  2. revloveR

    In the album’s original cover notes Derek Taylor says “on the ‘Rock and Roll Music’ track George Martin joins John and Paul on one piano.”

    Reply
          • Vonbontee

            Like Joe said, that’s impossible if it was recorded live w/out overdubs. So who’s got the more accurate information?

            Reply
            • Joe

              Hmm. I’ve read in a couple of sources (Walter Everett’s The Beatles As Musicians and John C Winn’s Way Beyond Compare) that the piano part was overdubbed after the basic track was recorded. The piano was the only part to be added after take 1, and was indeed played by John, Paul and George M.

              I’m not sure why this appears to have not been documented in the studio, but I’ll amend the article accordingly.

              Reply
    • Joe

      As I said before, according to the studio records it was recorded in a single take with no overdubs. There can’t be two bass parts.

      Reply
      • Von Bontee

        Yeah, I’d heard that “John, Paul & George on one piano” thing too, but I wasn’t sure it meant they were all playing at the same time!

        Either way, that’s surprising to me that George Martin played ALL the piano on that track. I wouldn’t think he’d really know much about that Little Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis style of rock ‘n roll piano, skillful though he was.

        Reply
  3. dcshark

    Usually George Martin overdubbed his piano parts after the basic track was recorded. This was probably an overdub that Lewisohn missed or wasn’t listed on the recording notes.

    Reply
  4. carlos gutman

    Listen carefully, there´s a complete piano sound, which means it has been played by 6 hands. The rest is the typical formation (Paul on bass, Ringo on drums, John & George on guitars). No doubt.

    Reply
  5. ELaw

    McCartney always has a distinct bass sound, one that pops out and rarely plays the same line twice. Yet, in the BFS version, its a plodding continuous 1-3-5-6 kind of riff, very rudimentary, which leads me to believe that it COULD be Harrison playing bass. I find that Lewisohn gets things wrong from time to time, and sometimes our ears are our best judge.

    Reply
    • metzgermeister77

      It wouldn’t be the first time Paul played a more simplistic bass line in a rock and roll cover. I’ve been listening to Live at the BBC lately and I know there’s a few where he does a lot of 1-3-5-6-8-6-5-3 stuff.

      Reply
  6. mstabz

    Am I the only one who has noticed that in the 3rd or 4th chorus(I’m not sure which) instead of singing “Any old way you choose it”, John sings “Any old time you use it” twice? He continues this through the rest of the song.

    Reply
  7. metzgermeister77

    The six-handed piano adds a lot of driving energy to this that most of their live performances of the song lacked. Normally I’ll skip over it on other releases, but it’s definitely worth listening to on Rock and Roll Music.

    Reply
  8. Jude

    The lyrics are quite difficult to hear as we can see différents lyrics on the Internet. For the third verse, i found these lyrics:
    Way down South they had a jubilee
    Them Georgia folks they had a jamboree
    They’re drinkin’ home brew from a wooden cup
    The folks are dancin’, they got all shook up

    Reply
    • Rumblekat

      I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what John’s singing for some of the lines in this song. I think you are right on that verse with the exception of the last line. To me it sounds more like:
      “The folks a-dancin’ there got all shook up”.

      On the verse just before that one I see most of the lyrics on the ‘net showing it as:
      “I took my love on over ‘cross the tracks
      And she began, her man a wailin’ sax”

      However, in the first line I don’t think John sings the word “over”, but rather “out” as in:
      “I took my love on out across the tracks”.

      On the next line it sounds like John has flubbed the word “began”. I’ve tried slowing this down on the computer and it sounds like he starts the word with the letter “d” and the consonant “g” sound is sung as “p”. It’s like he’s saying the word “depend”, which of course, makes no sense at all. But, it may have been that the entire take was so good that they didn’t want to even try to re-do the flubbed words, thinking that no one’s going to pay much attention to them anyway.

      Reply

Leave a reply