Rocks in My Bed

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"Rocks in My Bed" is a 1941 song written by Duke Ellington.

Harvey G. Cohen in his 2010 book Duke Ellington's America writes that "Rocks in My Bed" "presents a more honest and adult impression of sexual loneliness than most Swing Era lyrics". The lyrics arose from a conversation between two women that Ellington overheard.[1]

The academic Walter van de Leur theorized in his analysis of several Ellington pieces of the early 1940s that "Rocks in My Bed" may have been partially written by Billy Strayhorn yet solely copyrighted to Ellington without additional attribution.[2] Van de Leur analysed Strayhorn's reharmonisation of the piece for Ivie Anderson's 1941 vocal recording and felt that it marks the moment that Strayhorn "changed from arranger to co-composer".[3]

It was introduced by Big Joe Turner in the 1941 musical revue Jump for Joy.[4][5] Turner said in an interview that he assisted Ellington with the arrangement and composition of "Rocks in My Bed" whilst in preparation for Jump for Joy at the Dunbar Hotel.[6]

"Rocks in My Bed" was included in the 1997 musical comedy Play On! at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre directed by Sheldon Epps.[7]

The song has become associated with female singers. Betty Roché's version has been praised for its "gloriously bluesy scatting" and Sarah Vaughan's for her "earthy styling".[8][9]

Notable recordings[edit]


  1. ^ Cohen 2010, p. 180.
  2. ^ Cohen 2010, p. 309.
  3. ^ Walter van de Leur (31 January 2002). Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn. Oxford University Press. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-19-802885-7.
  4. ^ Michael Denning (1998). The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. Verso. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-85984-170-9.
  5. ^ Franceschina 2017, p. 32.
  6. ^ Franceschina 2017, p. 36.
  7. ^ Franceschina 2017, p. 200.
  8. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (7 February 1998). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 75.
  9. ^ The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc. (June–July 1990). The Crisis. The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc. p. 12.