Summertime Blues

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"Summertime Blues"
Single by Eddie Cochran
from the album The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album
B-side "Love Again"
Released July 21, 1958 (US),
September 1958 (UK)[1]
Recorded March 28, 1958
Genre Rockabilly
Length 1:53
Label Liberty 55144
Writer(s) Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart
Producer(s) Eddie Cochran
Eddie Cochran singles chronology
"Pretty Girl"
(1958)
"Summertime Blues"
(1958)
"C'mon Everybody"
(1958)

"Summertime Blues" is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran.[2] It was written in the late 1950s by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958[1] and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist Alan Jackson, and scoring notable hits in versions by The Who and Blue Cheer.

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1958) Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart[3] 18
Canadian Singles Chart 10
UK Singles Chart[4] 18
UK Singles Chart (1968)[4] 34
US Billboard Hot 100[5] 8

Legacy[edit]

In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 77 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[6]

The song is ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Popular culture[edit]

The song appears on the soundtrack for the movie Caddyshack. It was also covered by Cheech Marin in the movie Born In East L.A. as well as in Up in Smoke. Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for "Island Fever," a 1987 episode of their TV series.

Cover versions[edit]

The Beach Boys version (1962)[edit]

Recorded four years after the Eddie Cochran original (and some two years after his death), the Beach Boys paid tribute to him on their first album, Surfin' Safari, released October 1962. Lead vocal on the track was jointly sung by lead guitarist Carl Wilson, not yet 16, and rhythm guitarist Dave Marks, just turned 14. Never released as a single in the US, it gained enough popularity in The Philippines early in 1966 to post no. 7 on that country's hit parade as listed by Billboard in its weekly 'Hits of the World' charts.

Johnny Chester version (1962)[edit]

Australian rock'n'roll singer Johnny Chester cited Cochran as one of his idols and had used the track when rehearsing his first band in 1959.[7] Chester released his cover version on W&G Records in 1962 and was backed on the recording by local instrumental group, The Chessmen, with Bert Stacpool on piano, his brother Les Stacpool on guitar, Frank McMahon on bass guitar and Graeme Trottman on drums.[8] In December it peaked at No. 30 on the Kent Music Report.[9][10]

Blue Cheer version (1968)[edit]

"Summertime Blues"
Single by Blue Cheer
from the album Vincebus Eruptum
B-side "Out Of Focus"
Released 1968
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Psychedelic rock, acid rock, heavy metal[11]
Length 3:43
Label Philips
Producer(s) Abe "Voco" Kesh
Blue Cheer singles chronology
"Summertime Blues"
(1968)
"Just a Little Bit"
(1968)

The American psychedelic blues-rock band Blue Cheer recorded their version of "Summertime Blues" in 1967 and included it on their 1968 release entitled Vincebus Eruptum. The single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, pushing the sales of the album even higher to #11.[12] It topped the Dutch charts for one week in 1968.[13] While not as widely played or recognized as The Who's version, it certainly is more distorted. This version was ranked #73 on the list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time" of Rolling Stone.[14] This version omits the responses and instead has each band member do a quick "solo". A portion of Blue Cheer's version appears in the movie Troll. This was the first heavy metal song to ever make the pop charts, beating both "Born To Be Wild" and "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by months. Rush did a cover of this version for their Feedback EP. Rush frontman Geddy Lee cites Blue Cheer as the first heavy metal band.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
position
Dutch Singles Chart[15] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 14
Canadian Singles Chart[17] 3

The Who version (1970)[edit]

"Summertime Blues"
Single by The Who
from the album Live at Leeds
B-side "Heaven and Hell"
Released July 6, 1970[18]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Rock, hard rock
Length 3:22
Label

Track (UK)

Decca (US)
Producer(s) Kit Lambert, Chris Stamp
The Who singles chronology
"The Seeker"
(1970)
"Summertime Blues"
(1970)
"See Me, Feel Me"
(1970)

The Who played "Summertime Blues" as a staple of their concerts from their early days up to 1976, with intermittent appearances thereafter. It has not been played since bassist John Entwistle's death in 2002. It was performed during the 1967 US tour, from which the first known Who recordings of the song were made, including a June 1967 date at the Monterey Pop Festival.

The first version to be released by The Who appeared on the 1970 album Live at Leeds. The single from this album peaked at number 38 in the UK and number 27 in the US.[18]

Studio version[edit]

The Who recorded a studio version of this track in London on June 28, 1967, just after the Monterey performance. This was left unreleased until 1998 when it appeared on the remastered CD of Odds & Sods. Other live versions from The Who are featured in the Monterey Pop Festival CD box set and the concert and documentary film Woodstock (1970), as well as Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and the CD release of Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

Critical reception[edit]

Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that The Who gave it a "wild updating" and was "certain to put them right up there at the top."[19]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
position
Canadian RPM Top Singles[20] 8
Dutch Singles Chart[21] 25
UK Singles Chart 38
US Billboard Hot 100 27

Alan Jackson version (1994)[edit]

"Summertime Blues"
Single by Alan Jackson
from the album Who I Am
B-side "Hole in the Wall"
Released June 6, 1994
Format CD Single
Recorded January 11, 1994[22]
Genre Country
Length 3:13 (album version)
Label Arista Nashville
Producer(s) Keith Stegall
Alan Jackson singles chronology
"(Who Says) You Can't Have It All"
(1993)
"Summertime Blues"
(1994)
"Livin' on Love"
(1994)

American country music artist Alan Jackson recorded the song for his 1994 album, Who I Am. It was released in June 1994 as the lead single from the album and the song reached Number One on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and number 4 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 (equivalent to number 104 on the Billboard Hot 100). Jackson said that he was inspired by Buck Owens' version.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Deborah Evans Price of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that Jackson "gives the oft-covered Eddie Cochran oldie the full, twangy 'Chattahoochee' treatment." She goes on to say that "until the vocal starts, you may not know which song you're listening to. But who cares?" She says that with his "signature laid-back vocal style, the long, tall Georgian turns this '50s teen anthem into a '90s country classic."[23] Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe reviewed the song unfavorably, saying that Jackson blatantly attempted to recreate the "Chattahoochee" phenomenon. He goes on to say that the "charm of the Eddie Cochran original is lost by forcing those country line-dance beats into the backing track."[24]

Music Video[edit]

The video was directed by Michael Salomon and was released in June 1994. It features Jackson mud bogging in a pickup truck and playing guitar in a field.

Chart positions[edit]

"Summertime Blues" debuted at number 53 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of June 18, 1994.

Chart (1994) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[25] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[26] 4
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[27] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[28] 3
US Country Songs (Billboard)[29] 7
Preceded by
"Foolish Pride"
by Travis Tritt
Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks
number-one single (Alan Jackson version)

July 23-August 6, 1994
Succeeded by
"Be My Baby Tonight"
by John Michael Montgomery
Preceded by
"Thinkin' Problem"
by David Ball
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single (Alan Jackson version)

August 1-August 8, 1994
Succeeded by
"The Other Side"
by Charlie Major

Other covers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Strong, M. C. (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd. p. 152. ISBN 0-86241-385-0. 
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 11 - Tennessee Firebird. [Part 3], Big Rock Candy Mountain. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  3. ^ "Lescharts.com - Eddie Cochran: Summertime Blues". RPM. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Eddie Cochran". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Eddie Cochran Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Eddie Cochran.
  6. ^ "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!". Rock List Music. Retrieved 2011-01-25
  7. ^ Johnston, Chris (26 October 2012). "Our First Rock Star". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  8. ^ McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Johnny Chester'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 6 August 2004. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book 1940–1969. Turramurra, NSW: Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  10. ^ Ryan (bulion), Gary (26 January 2012). "Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 4 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Top Heavy Metal Songs". Allmusic. 
  12. ^ Strong, M. C. (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 0-86241-385-0. 
  13. ^ "Top 40-lijst van week 25, 1968" Top 40 van week 25, 1968 Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  14. ^ "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-25. "This power trio's cover of Eddie Cochran's classic was their only hit, sometimes called the first heavy-metal record. It's a showcase for the massive roar of Leigh Stephens' guitar, so fuzzed-up it scrapes like steel wool, dragging the rockabilly riff through the dust."
  15. ^ "Top 40 van week 25, 1968". Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Blue Cheer Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Blue Cheer.
  17. ^ "collectionscanada.gc.ca - Blue Cheer: Summertime Blues". RPM. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  18. ^ a b Strong, M. C. (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd. p. 897. ISBN 0-86241-385-0. 
  19. ^ Billboard, July 4, 1970
  20. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - The Who: Summertime Blues". RPM. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Lescharts.com - The Who: Summertime Blues". RPM. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b The Greatest Hits Collection (CD). Alan Jackson. Arista Records. 1995. 07822 18801. 
  23. ^ Billboard, June 25, 1994
  24. ^ CountryUniverse.net Song review
  25. ^ "RPM Country Tracks. RPM. August 1, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  26. ^ "Alan Jackson Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Alan Jackson.
  27. ^ "Alan Jackson Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Alan Jackson.
  28. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1994". RPM. December 12, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Best of 1994: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ "The Dandy Warhols cover Eddie Cochran". Retrieved 6 April 2013. 

External links[edit]