Bye, Bye, Johnnie B. Goode

As a boy, I recall music being the backdrop of my home life. My father spun country and western 78s on his downstairs record player—the family still has a Sun Record original of Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” Mom wet her panties anytime Sinatra sang on the living room radio, which (I assume) was tuned to a standards station. Under the stairwell leading to the basement, a large box contained classic vinyl from the 1940s and ’50s; many more had been “stolen” by an aunt and uncle, who didn’t return them after a late night party at their home. The family also possessed a number of standard Italian tunes that I remember being played or crooned a cappella at family get-togethers.

Then along came 1958 and Spokanites were introduced to their first taste of radio programming dedicated solely to Top 40 rock ’n’ roll.

“Kay En Eee Double U … Channel 79,” the station’s identification ditty still rings in my ears, as do all those early hits that defined my youth. I was an overweight nerd wearing glasses to alleviate a myopia that extends not to just my nearsightedness, but to my grasp of the world.

That cloudy vision impacts my memory, too, but I know one thing for sure: a guy named Chuck Berry dominated my perception of the early days of rock on my local radio station. His influence on me is evidenced by my ability to still recite from memory most of the lyrics to “Maybelline,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” Johnny B. Goode,” “Memphis,” “No Particular Place to Go,” and a double handful of other originals penned by the master of guitar with lyrics that spoke truth to me and my generation.

You’ll be greatly missed, Chuck.

I saw you over there
But what could I do?
I couldn’t stand and stare
Or come and talk to you
And it is always fair
To formally be introduced?
To you especially
I took it on my own
To come and talk to you
Because you were alone
I hope I didn’t intrude
Observing you had shown
That you were so lonely and blue
Nothing beats a failure like a try
There’s a great reward
Someone will surely hail you
If you try
But you must try hard
And if I hadn’t tried
I wonder where I’d be

If I upon relied
On fate you meeting me
But because I tried
Together we’ll always be
Nothing beats a failure like a try
There’s a great reward
Someone will surely hail you
Oh darling
Together we’ll always be

Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group (Chuck Berry’s first single, written by Richard Berry, who crafted “Louie Louie,” a giant Northwest hit.)


One thought on “Bye, Bye, Johnnie B. Goode

  1. James, Nothing happens when the “BUY MY BOOKS @ FJAMESGRECO.COM” is clicked on in your sidebar.

    It seems that we are saying “goodbye” far more than “hello” these days. Good post.


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