Wednesday, August 10, 2016
SHG: Jerry Lee Lewis: "Great Balls of Fire"
Jerry Lee Lewis: “Great Balls of Fire”
Entered the chart on: 12/2/1957
Peaked on: 1/6/1957
Weeks at #2: 4
Song at #1: “At the Hop” by Danny & the Juniors
We were in full-on Golden Age of Rock & Roll here. Just look at that Top 2! Controversial, crazy rockabilly singer/pianist Jerry Lee Lewis should need no introduction, but in case you do...
Yes, this perhaps misses a bit without the visual of Jerry standing behind the piano and banging on the keys. Think a white, hillbilly version of Little Richard and you’re close to Jerry’s appeal.
I think this might be the first song I’ve covered that is unequivocally about sex. Sure, “Blueberry Hill” is a wistful reminiscence of a past romance that was clearly consummated, but it wasn’t just about sex. Listening to Jerry’s urgent, wailing, trembling delivery makes the lyrical content clear as Canadian water. This song is about a woman that makes him horny.
We’re looking at it through a veil of nostalgia now, but compare this to the Billy Vaughn, Joni James and Four Lads tunes we’ve covered, and think of how appalled the old guard must have been to have this crazy hillbilly screaming lyrics with obvious sexual undertones. And to have their kids go crazy for it, and shove it up to the top of the charts.
They must have been delighted to tear him down after even his fan base turned on him when it was discovered he had married his underaged cousin. He’d reinvent himself as a country singer a decade later, but the damage had been done.