The Moon Went Down

Many of Chuck Berry’s songs seem to sound the same, having an awesome guitar riff, utilizing three chords and being about teenage culture including cars, girls and rock ‘n’ roll, but his music has endured, because he is a rock ‘n’ roll original.  ‘Around and Around’ which is also known as ‘Round and Round’ was recorded by Chuck Berry in 1968 and this song was released on 12 of his albums.  It was the B side to ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and the song tells the story of a reelin’-and-rockin’, all-night party Berry and his band played that ended up being broken up by the cops.  It’s got a swinging rhythm, with the stop-start pauses he was so fond of at the time and a funky, bluesy guitar solo that was born from jamming with his band before a memorable show.  One night his band jammed for nearly two hours, but the police didn’t knock when they came to bust up the party.  The Grateful Dead with Bob Weir singing lead vocals did several Chuck Berry tunes including ‘The Promised Land’, ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and ‘Around and Around’, which the Grateful Dead performed over 400 times in concert.

Chuck Berry is considered by many to be the “father of rock ‘n’ roll” and early in 1955, he met the legendary blues musician Muddy Waters, who suggested that Berry go meet with Chess Records.  A few weeks later, Berry wrote and recorded ‘Maybellene’, which reached #1 on the R&B charts and #5 on the pop charts.  Berry’s music career was derailed in 1961 when he was convicted under the Mann Act of illegally transporting a 14-year-old waitress across state lines for “immoral purposes” and he ended up spending 20 months in jail.  In 1985, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  A year later, in 1986, he became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first inductee.  In 1987, a documentary concert film was made called Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll that celebrated his 60th birthday.   Berry died on March 18, 2017, at the age of 90.

‘Around and Around’ was the first song Mick Jagger sang when he and Keith Richards sat in with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in 1962.  It was also the first song that The Rolling Stones ever recorded, being cut in March of 1962, although this version was never released.  The Rolling Stones played this on the Ed Sullivan show.  I wanted to find a Chuck Berry video of him singing this song, but all I found were slide show with music and there were some videos with a very old Chuck in them, which did not cut it for me.  The video below is from the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany, a show that took place on March 28, 1981 with Pete Townshend who played with the Grateful Dead on their last four songs that night, including ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Wharf Rat’, ‘Around and Around’ and the set closer ‘Good Lovin’.

They say the joint was rockin’
Goin’ round and round
Yeah reelin’ and a-rockin’
What a crazy sound
And they never stopped rockin’
Till the moon went down

Oh it sounds so sweet
I gotta take me a chance
Rose out of my seat
Just had to dance
Started movin’ my feet
Well a-clappin’ my hands

Well the joint started rockin’
[etc with chorus]

Twelve o’clock
Well the place was packed
Front doors was locked
Well the place was packed
When the police knocked
Those doors flew back


Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 63 where this week’s theme is moon.

7 thoughts on “The Moon Went Down

  1. Thanks Jim good to know the background of that one. We played this song in many bars. It’s a perfect bar song. Every time the line “When the police knocked those doors flew back” came up…a big cheer would erupt.
    I first learned it by the Stones version.

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