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Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 Records That Shook The World, #98

Good Rocking Tonight
Wynonie Harris

This song, which was actually a cover of a jump blues song by Roy Brown, is a primer of sorts on the popular black music of the era, making lyrical reference to Sweet Lorraine, Sioux City Sue, Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, Elder Brown, Deacon Jones. All of these characters had figured prominently in previous hit songs. The hit version which makes this list is by Wynonie Harris.
Harris had a reputation for wild behavior, carousing and partying, and as a consequence he sometimes fogot lyrics. For the most part, this song follows Brown's lyrics, but towards the end Wynonie starts in with a series of loud 'hoy hoy hoy' yells, harking back to earlier jump blues songs, particularly 'The Honeydripper'.
This version also features some black gospel-style handclapping, and it is this feature which is largely responsible for the tune's success, reaching as it did #1 on the national R&B chart and staying on the chart for 6 months.
Elvis Presley's second release on Sun Records was his version of this song. His version was closer to Roy Brown's original, but it failed to chart.
The opening phrase "Have you heard the news, there's good rocking tonight" was taken from the way Edward R. Murrow would open his WW2 news broadcasts, "Have you heard? There's good news tonight!"

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