Yakety Yak

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Not to be confused with Yakkity Yak or Yakety Sax.
"Yakety Yak"
An album featuring "Yakety Yak"
Single by The Coasters
B-side "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart"
Released April 1958
Format 45 rpm, 78 rpm
Recorded March 17, 1958
Genre Rock and roll
Length 1:52
Label Atco Records 6116
Writer(s) Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller
The Coasters singles chronology
"Gee, Golly"
(1958)
"Yakety Yak"
(1958)
"The Shadow Knows"
(1958)

"Yakety Yak" is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Coasters and released on Atlantic Records in 1958, spending seven weeks as #1 on the R&B charts and a week as number one on the Hot 100 pop list.[1] This song was one of a string of singles released by The Coasters between 1957 and 1959 that dominated the charts, one of the biggest performing acts of the rock and roll era.[2]

Song[edit]

The song is a "playlet," a word Stoller used for the glimpses into teenage life that characterized the songs Leiber and Stoller wrote and produced.[3] The lyrics describe the listing of household chores to a kid, presumably a teenager, the teenager's response ("yakety yak") and the parents' retort ("don't talk back") — an experience very familiar to a middle-class teenager of the day. Leiber has said the Coasters portrayed "a white kid’s view of a black person’s conception of white society."[2] The serio-comic street-smart “playlets” etched out by the songwriters were sung by the Coasters with a sly clowning humor, while the screaming saxophone of King Curtis filled in hot, honking bursts in the up-tempo doo-wop style. The group was openly theatrical in style—they were not pretending to be expressing their own experience.[4]

The threatened punishment for not taking out the garbage and sweeping the floor is, in the song's humorous lyrics:[5]

"You ain't gonna rock and roll no more,"

And the refrain is:

"Yakety yak; don't talk back."[6]

Popular culture[edit]

  • Québécois duo Les Jérolas recorded in 1959 a French version "Rouspet' pas"
  • Sha Na Na performed this as part of their set at the original Woodstock Festival and recorded 2 live covers of the song in 1971 and 1972
  • The song was covered by Jan & Dean and was planned to be released on their album Carnival of Sound in 1968. Carnival of Sound was not released until 2010.
  • Lee Perry released a cover version in 1969 (as Lee Perry and the Upsetters), altering the lyric "You ain't gonna rock and roll no more" to "You ain't gonna reggae reggae reggae no more"
  • Vince Vance & The Valiants, one of multiple groups parodying Barbara Ann as "Bomb Iran" in 1980, created a similarly themed 2005 parody called "Yakety Yak (Bomb Iraq)".[7]
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a version for the 1987 Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Dave's Dream Cabin."
  • The song has also been mixed & recorded by 2 Live Crew for the movie Twins. In the same film, Julius (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sings along, with hilarious results, as the song plays in his earphones while flying to the United States.
  • It has also served as the theme to Clive Anderson's chat-show Clive Anderson Talks Back during the 1990s, and as the opening theme of the movie, The Great Outdoors.[8]
  • It was the inspiration and theme song for the 2002-2003 Nickelodeon series, Yakkity Yak.
  • A modified version, "Yakety Yak - Take It Back," was used in a 1990 all-star PSA for the Take It Back foundation.[9]
  • A children's picture book, "Yakety Yak!" with illustrations by Simon Beck was published in 2013. The song is acted out by a family of anthropomorphic yaks.
  • A music video starring Plucky Duck as the teenager tasked with chores aired on the 90th episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 125. 
  2. ^ a b "The Coasters". Rock Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  3. ^ Anthony DeCurtis, & James Henke (eds) (1980). The RollingStone: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music ((3rd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc. p. 98. ISBN 0-679-73728-6. 
  4. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (April 13, 2005). "Yakety Yak". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  5. ^ Friedlander, Paul (1996). Rock and Roll: A social history. Boulder, CO: Westview Press (Harper Collins). p. 66. ISBN 0-8133-2725-3. 
  6. ^ Leiber & Stoller interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  7. ^ "The Show Band that Wouldn't Die". Houston Press, June 30, 2005.
  8. ^ "The Great Outdoors (1988) - Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  9. ^ "'Yakety Yak – Take It Back!' Music Video". Take It Back Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 

External links[edit]