Don’t Talk Back

Cornell Gunther and the Coasters had hit songs like ‘Little Egypt’, ‘Love Potion No. 9’, and ‘Poison Ivy’.  ‘Yakety Yak’ is a protest song involving a conversation that takes place between a teenager and their parent.  The teen is being scolded for not doing his assigned household chores, and they are clearly being irreverent because they feel that their parent’s criticism amounts to nothing more than “yakety yak”, which is a way of saying “blah blah” and they just don’t want to hear it.  This song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and it was recorded on the Coasters 1958 Greatest Hits album and it went to #1 in the US and it charted #12 in the UK.  ‘Yakety Yak’ went to #1 on both the R&B Chart and the U.S. Pop Chart.  The recording features King Curtis on the tenor saxophone.  The Coasters were a spin-off of the Los Angeles group The Robins, with Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn following Leiber and Stoller to New York.  ‘Yakety Yak’ features Gardner, Billy Guy, Cornell Gunter, and Will “Dub” Jones.

Leiber and Stoller became the first songwriters inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame although Leiber noted at the induction ceremony that they didn’t think that they were writing rock ‘n’ roll, as they thought they were just writing good rhythm and blues, however their partnership gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll.  They were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Producers Hall of Fame.  They were born six weeks apart in 1933 on the East Coast and they became aficionados of black culture.  The duo of Jewish men met in Los Angeles one afternoon in 1950 when they were both 17 and the first song they wrote was ‘That’s What the Good Book Says’, which was recorded by Bobby Nunn and the Robbins, in 1951.  Lyricist Jerry Leiber died in 2011 at the age of 78 and composer Mike Stoller is now 87.

Many kids are assigned chores, thinking that this type of discipline will teach them responsibility and self-reliance.  This is not child abuse and children must be shown what to do, so you will need to lead by example by letting them watch you do it first.  Chores should never be used as a method of punishment, as you should offer your children some type of reward for behaving in the manner that you want them to.  I never enjoyed doing chores, but my dad was in the Army and when I was about five, he had all of us, my older sister and my younger brother making our beds.  He liked to play the role of inspector telling us that his sergeant would take out a quarter and bounce it on his bed to see if the sheets were tucked in tight enough and if we passed, we got to keep the quarter.  I received an allowance that was dependent on doing my assigned chores, which included bringing in the mail, taking out the garbage, taking the dog for walks, cutting the grass, raking leaves, shoveling snow and general cleaning up duties.

“Take out the papers and the trash
Or you don’t get no spendin’ cash
If you don’t scrub that kitchen floor
You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more
Yakety yak
(Don’t talk back)

Just finish cleanin’ up your room
Let’s see that dust fly with that broom
Get all that garbage out of sight
Or you don’t go out Friday night
Yakety yak
(Don’t talk back)

Just put on your coat and hat
And walk yourself to the laundromat
And when you finish doin’ that
Bring in the dog and put out the cat
Yakety yak
(Don’t talk back)

Don’t you give me no dirty looks
Your father’s hip, he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoodlum friends outside
You ain’t got time to take a ride
Yakety yak
(Don’t talk back)

Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak”

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Chat/Laugh/Rant/Scream/Talk.

39 thoughts on “Don’t Talk Back

  1. Fun song. I remember it as a kid, though I was only 3 when it was released. Sis and I weren’t exactly assigned chores, but we had to earn our pocket money by making our beds, keeping our room tidy, helping with the washing up, dusting (I hated that) and there was an episode of me using a full box of Tide cleaning the bath. Bubbles were everywhere and I couldn’t get rid of them, using a sponge (worse thing ever!!) and managing to lock myself in the bathroom in a panic. Dad had to get a ladder and ‘save me’ through the window.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great song. We always had chores, too, and a grandmother who was a nurse and taught me how to make hospital corners at a very young age. Served me well when I joined the Air Force.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know “Yakety Yak” was a protest song between parents and teenagers. I thought it was a light-hearted marriage quarrel. I learned something! I should have blared this more when I was fighting with my parents as a teen. Hahaha.

    I always love that small bass solo at the end of the chorus, it is really something unique.

    Liked by 1 person

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