Thursday, February 21, 2008


There’s a lot of titled royalty in vintage rock/pop songs. We have the King of the Road (Roger Miller), the Duke of Earl (Gene Chandler), a Pineapple Princess (Annette), the Lady Jane (Rolling Stones), and a particular favorite of mine, the Queen of the Hop, by Bobby Darin. Back in 1958, when Bobby was singing about his teen queen, I was just a kid barely into double digits, practicing my dance moves for some as yet unspecified rock and roll future (high school?) when they might come in handy. I listened to all the songs by my musical elders; the same music mentioned in “Queen of the Hop.” Man, that song is a veritable who’s who and what's what of vintage rock and roll. I decided I’d try and match them all up, but when I did, I found something that, like The Who, I can’t explain…Here’s the lyrics, edited for space:

Well, you can talk about your Julie and your Peggy Sue.
You can keep your Miss Molly and your Mary Lou.
But when it comes to the chicken or to doin’ the bop
I got a girl they call the queen of the hop.

(chorus) Oh well I love my queen.
Do you know who I mean?
Sweet little sixteen
Yes, that's my queen.

Well, she wears short shorts and-a rock ‘n’ roll shoes.
You ought to see her dance to the yellow dog blues.
She's my sugar time baby, I'm her lollipop,
And everybody knows I love my queen of the hop

Okey dokey, let’s with the last verse and work our way up. We’ve got “Lollipop” (The Chordettes, ’58) “Sugartime” (The McGuire Sisters, ’57) not to mention “Short Shorts” (The Royal Teens, ’58) and “Yellow Dog Blues.” The “Yellow Dog Blues” is a really old blues number credited to W.C. Handy in the early 1900s, but I did find a reference to a 1952 release by another artist, so I think we’re still in the ballpark.

Chorus: “Sweet Little 16” (Chuck Berry ’58)

First verse; here we’ve got “Oh Julie” (The Crescendos, ’57) “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly, ’57) “Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard, ’56) and finally, Mary Lou. Hmmm, Mary Lou …Mary Lou…yes, but…which one? It looks like there’s two Mary Lou’s to consider. The sources I checked say that “Hello Mary Lou” by Rick Nelson was a hit in 1961, and “Mary Lou” (“she took my watch and chain…”) by Ronnie Hawkins dates to 1959. That sounds about right, as best I can recall, but if those dates are accurate, then both of those songs are too late for our Queen who ruled in 1958. So, who, then, is the Mary Lou in the song? My friends, I can't think of a thing. So is my Baby Boomer memory shorting out on me? Like, is there some other famous vintage Mary Lou that I’m forgetting, a song I really should know, and when someone out there reminds me, I'll slap my forehead and go, “Well duh-uh!” Okay, music fans out there; help me out, wouldja.

We've got quite a lot of listening to do here. And may I take this opportunity to say, Thank You to YouTube!

Lollipop - Check out Andy Williams doing the sound effects! And I have a funny feeling that could be the Everlys right at the very end, clapping.

Sugartime -

Short Shorts - I put this in a recent post, but hey, you get to listen to that great sax all over again.

Yellow Dog Blues - I would so dance to this!

Sweet Little 16 -

Oh Julie -

Peggy Sue -

Good Golly Miss Molly -

Queen of the Hop - and of course, the song that started all this -

as for the elusive Mary Lou-

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

Howz 'bout The Prince of Whales?

Stay on groovin' safari,