Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 200
Mon. July 30, 2012

“Rock and Roll Music”
The Beatles


“♫ it’s gotta be
rock and roll
music/ if you
wanna dance
with me

One of my favorite Saturday Morning shows growing up was the classic The Beatles cartoon. Created by executive producer Al Brodax, The Beatles cartoon originally ran from 1965-1967. No amigos, I’m not that old, The Beatles cartoon actually had a revival during the late seventies, which is when my brothers and I religiously watched. We would laugh, sing and dance along to animated versions of our favorite Beatles songs. What I loved about The Beatles cartoon is that it took the spirited humor of The Fab Four and focused each episode around specific songs. One of the most memorable ones, that I still value to this day is the episode called “Rock & Roll Music.”

After watching the episodes of “Rock & Roll Music,” my Papi actually drove me to Montgomery Ward’s record department, and let me pick out a vinyl for me to take home. My Dad knew how much we loved The Beatles. He had to put up with my brother Rene and I would stand in front of the TV, pretending we were in the Beatles. We would actually strum air guitars and dedicatedly take turns singing along with The Fab Four cartoon doubles. “Twist and Shout” was Rene’s favorite Beatles rocker and I choose “Rock & Roll Music” as my choice song to imitate. My Papi probably got tired of listening to me croon “Rock & Roll Music” out of tune for so long around the house, I like to think he really wanted me to hear the real thing on vinyl; So I picked up the 1976 double compilation album Rock ‘n’ Roll Music. And because of my favorite The Beatles cartoon episode I played the crap out of “Rock & Roll Music.”

Did you know “Rock & Roll Music” was recorded because The Beatles wanted to emulate the power in Please Please Me’s rousing closing number “Twist & Shout?” Fab Four engineer Geoff Emerick wrote, in Here, There & Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, on how The Beatles recorded “Rock & Roll Music” in 1964 as he explained, “with time running short, Paul moved over to the piano, where he pounded out a rollicking version of Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music.” The entire song, including John’s scorching vocal, was performed live, with George Harrison playing Paul’s Hofner bass.” How good was John Lennon and The Beatles take on “Rock & Roll Music?” Peter Doggett in his book, The Art and Music of John Lennon, described my favorite Beatles 1964 rocker when he wrote: “Lennon transformed Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music” from a novelty R&B tune into a savage rocker that lived up to the defining promise of its title.” Ian MacDonald author of Revolution in the Head added—“Pitched a fifth higher than Berry’s record, The Beatles cover of “Rock & Roll Music” has greater energy than the original.”

So forget the “newly released” compilation album Tomorrow Never Knows; how can a collection of The Beatles most influential rock songs without featuring the most quintessential rocker, 1964’s “Rock & Roll Music?” The song that I first discovered on the now vintage Beatles cartoon is one that continues to rock me to this very day. If you want a definitive Beatles collection with their best rock songs go back to 1976’s Rock & Roll Music double LP, flip over the first vinyl over to Side B and drop the needle on the first track. The electric feeling will be instantaneous, don’t fight it; let John blistering “Rock & Roll Music” set you free!