Roll Over, Beethoven. Chuck’s Coming.

When I was a little bitty boy, my grandmother gave me a cute, little toy, silver bells upon a string, she told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling. Not your typical rock ‘n roll song, but a fun, little, comic ditty.
It was the popular hit at the time, the one time I saw Chuck Berry live. It was in a big, old building, like a derelict factory or something, in Des Moines, sometime in the early 70s.
He showed up ridiculously late, and the crowd was starting to get pissed off, but when he came he put on a hell of a show.
It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well, you could see that Pierre really, truly loved the mademoiselle….
That was the song that my brother Dennis played at my wedding, 15 years ago. I’m sure that none of Helena’s Czech or Polish relatives new any of the words, but most of them were so hammered by that point it didn’t matter anyway, and plenty of people were dancing. Love that song, but did not realize until today that it was by Chuck Berry. Another one I didn’t realize was his, until I started writing this article and wanted to make sure about ‘You Never Can Tell’ so went to Wikipedia, was ‘Memphis, Tennessee.’
Marie lives on the South Side, high up on the ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge….
Currently, every Thursday, in one of my larger classes, there is a boy called Johnny (I’m sure among his friends he goes by Jan, or maybe Honza, but it’s an English class), and I call him Johnny B. Goode. Maybe I’ll stop doing that now. Maybe I won’t.
The point is, Chuck Berry is an artist whose songs have influenced my life greatly, they have struck at key points and they have left a mark. And now he is gone. I’m not particularly saddened, he made it to 90 and had a full and interesting life which, although it had it’s rough patches, including a couple of stretches in the old Iron Bar Hotel, also had a lot of great moments.
RIP, Chuck Berry. Your music will never die.


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