A Lazy Bastard

Summer ends and Fall starts on Saturday, September 22, at 9:54 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  Where did it all go, which is a rhetorical question, so there is no need to answer.  Any way today I will be writing about the song ‘Summertime Blues’, which was written by rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran and his mentor and manager Jerry Neal Capehart.  The 1958 Liberty Records single by Eddie Cochran became a rock standard, and this archetypal protest song peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.  This song is ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cochran was 19 when he recorded this.  It was a big hit with his teenage fans, who could relate to the lyrics about being held back by society (and their parents).  Cochran acquired this image of being a bad boy teenager hopped-up with adrenaline, eager to bust loose, a rebel with a guitar, and his legend was secured when he died 2 years later while riding in the back of a taxi.  He appeared in a couple of movies, and he sang his song ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ in ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and ‘Cotton Picker’ in ‘Untamed Youth’ and he was often compared to James Dean, who was 24 when he died in a car accident.  Cochran was a trailblazing guitarist, gifted vocalist, hit-making composer and arranger, and a smart whiz-kid producer.

One of songwriter and music manager Capehart’s songs that had mass appeal was, ‘Turn Around, Look at Me’, a chart hit for Glen Campbell, the Lettermen, and the Vogues.  Cochran met Capehart in a small music store when he was 17.  They wrote ‘Summertime Blues’ together and Jerry Neil Capehart helped Cochran to get a record deal.  Capehart explained the inspiration for this song in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs issue saying, “There had been a lot of songs about summer, but none about the hardships of summer.”  With that idea and a guitar lick from Cochran, they wrote the song in 45 minutes.

I am retired now, but when I was working, there were an ample amount of days where I did not feel like going in, especially if I was hung-over after some late night partying.  Summertime blues is a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that distresses around five percent of Americans.  Some people just lack the drive and work ethic to be productive and they can be classified as being lazy, which is how I see this whining guy in this song.

The lyrics feature an exaggerated adolescent sense of injustice, but who said that life has to be fair.  Most people see this song as being funny, with this teenager struggling with his boss, his parents and his congressman and the absurd threat where he wants to involve the U.N. to settle the dispute.  This is the summer of his discontent, as he needs to work to make money, but if he works he won’t have the time to spend with his girlfriend, and when he skips out on his job, his parents will take away his access to the family car, no one is on his side and going to see his congressman gets him nowhere.  The voices from his boss, his pop and his congressman are all comically deep, expressing authority while shooting him down for trying to get time off for a date, not allowing him to have car privileges and being too young to vote, and all this leads to frustration.  In the studio Eddie Cochran sang both the vocal and bass vocal played all the guitar parts, while Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith played the electric bass and Earl Palmer drums.  The phrase “work-a-late” was Cochran’s tribute to the Kingfish character from the Amos and Andy television series, and the hand clapping was done by Sharon Sheeley.

This was Cochran’s breakthrough hit and his previous singles didn’t do very well, but this gave him a lot of exposure and established him as a star.  This was supposed to be the B-side of ‘Love Again’, which was written by 17-year-old Sharon Sheeley.  Sharon had a number one hit with ‘Poor Little Fool’, a song she had penned for teen idol Ricky Nelson.  It was clear that this was the bigger hit, and Sheeley eventually became Cochran’s girlfriend.  She was in the chauffeur-driven Ford Consul when it suffered a blown tire and smashed into a light post and killed Cochran on Easter Sunday April 17, 1960 in Chippenham, England.  Sheeley suffered a broken neck and a broken back.  Also riding in the car that day was rock ‘n’ roll’s original leather-clad bad boy Gene Vincent, who survived the accident, but would carry a limp with him for the rest of his life.

Rock ‘n’ roll’s first great tragedy happened on February 3, 1959 when Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper were all killed in a plane crash and this became known as ‘The Day the Music Died’.  When Ritchie’s career took off like a shooting star, he realized that he would have to overcome his fear and dread of flying.  With the release of “’Come On, Let’s Go’, ‘Donna’, and “’La Bamba’, Ritchie Valens was very much in demand.  Valens had a cameo role in the film starring Alan Freed as a talent scout searching for a future rock and roll star, titled ‘Go, Johnny, Go!’ with Eddie Cochran and Ritchie was asked to join Buddy Holly on the Winter Dance Party.  Eddie sang ‘Teenage Heaven’ in this film.  A few days before the fatal crash, Buddy called Eddie Cochran for some career emotional support.  Cochran was scheduled to be with his friends Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on the Winter Dance Party tour, but he couldn’t go because had a performance scheduled for early February on The Ed Sullivan Show, which Holly told him that he should not miss.  Eddie became severely depressed and he was taking tranquilizers to deal with clinical depression of his good friends dying and one day visited a fortune-teller to determine just how long he had before he would meet an untimely death.  Cochran was clearly disturbed by the premature demise of his peers, and one night Eddie woke from a troubled sleep screaming out, “My God! I’m going to die and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it!”

Blue Cheer did a thundering, sputtering, version of ‘Summertime Blues’, as this West Coast psychedelic power trio molded in the image of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience (who also did ‘Summertime Blues’ on occasion) turned irritation into a kind of road rage, with singer Dickie Peterson throwing a tantrum and Leigh Stephens coaxing agonized phrases out of his guitar.

‘Summertime Blues’ was the only Who hit that was not written by Pete Townshend.

The Rush fans really like to rock out when this song is played and their drummer Neal Ellwood Peart who is considered to be one of the greatest drummers of all time, is impressive to watch as he sits in the middle of a remarkable circle of drums that consisting of much more than the typical Bass, Snare, Tom, Hi-hat and cymbals.

Here is the Eddie Cochran version.

I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About a-workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar
Every time I call my baby, try to get a date
My boss says, “no dice son, you gotta work late”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

Well, my mom and pop told me, “son, you gotta make some money”
If you want to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday
Well, I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick
“Well, you can’t use the car ‘cause you didn’t work a lick”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well, I called my congressman and he said “whoa!”
“I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Ample, for FOWC with Fandango – Smart, or Scotts Daily Prompt – Mass and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Mentor.

12 thoughts on “A Lazy Bastard

      1. I appreciate the drumming of both Rush and Tool… neither of which, however, have I seen in concert ( and I probably like more music by Rush — have one album I like [a lot] by Tool ).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay; this’ll be the last I say about Tool today.

        How Tool Used Math to Create …

        That’ll be a nerdy introduction for somebody, which
        is not the way I first heard them… but is interesting.

        But, to rephrase [and reposition] the question, I suppose I’d be curious to see what you would do with a full topic on drummers (and how it might fit some prompts).

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Summertime Blues was funny to watch on the videos, more so on a couple of them. The Eddie Cochran version and the Who version got the humor across most.

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