Thursday, July 29, 2010

One for the Money

Consider a verse from a Mother Goose collection, circa 1850:

One to make ready
And two to prepare;
Here goes the rider,
And away goes the mare.

And then from Nursery Rhymes of England, James Orchard Halliwell, 5th Edition, 1886:

One to make ready
And two to prepare
good luck to the rider
And away goes the mare

From this simple couplet about horse racing, the seeds of rock and roll history were laid to ferment when Bill Haley recorded a song called "Whatcha Gonna Do" in 1953 and utilized a modified version of Mrs. Goose's ancient nursery rhyme:

One for the money
And two for the show
Three to get ready
And here I go!

Two years later, Carl Perkins specifically used Bill Haley's version of the couplet for his "Blue Suede Shoes". That he was directly inspired by Bill Haley is further evidenced by observing that the style of "Blue Suede Shoes" was plainly aping Bill's "Rock the Joint".

Though Carl enjoyed very brief fame as his record became a hit, Elvis Presley "sniped" Carl by rushing out his own version of it and stealing Carl's thunder while Carl was sidelined by a car wreck. Carl laid in his hospital bed watching Elvis steal his goldmine on live television. Sure, he got royalties, but that's scarcely the point. Carl's version was immediately forgotten as Elvis' punchier rendition stole the limelight.

(Poor Carl, utterly clueless about just what had made the song popular, kept desperately recording more songs about shoes, such as "Pink Pedal Pushers" and "Pointed Toe Shoes". And fantastic songs they were too, but they all failed to restore him to the hit parade.)

Bill Haley, never one to turn down a good song - even one ripping himself off - recorded his own versions of "Blue Suede Shoes" several times in his career.

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