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Jerry Leiber Quotes
Elvis was incredibly cooperative. He would try anything. He wasn't a diva, no prima donna. When it came to work, he was a workhorse.
Red-hot songs were born on the black streets of Baltimore, where I delivered five-gallon cans of kerosene and ten-pound bags of coal.
The early influences, in many ways, were in Baltimore. I was passing open windows where there might be a radio playing something funky. In the summertime, sometimes there'd be a man sitting on a step, playing an acoustic guitar, playing some kind of folk blues. The seed had been planted.
'Hound Dog' took like twelve minutes. That's not a complicated piece of work. But the rhyme scheme was difficult. Also the metric structure of the music was not easy. 'Kansas City' was maybe eight minutes, if that. Writing the early blues was spontaneous. You can hear the energy in the work.
I felt black. I was as far as I was concerned. And I wanted to be black for lots of reasons. They were better musicians, they were better athletes, they were not uptight about sex, and they knew how to enjoy life better than most people.
It's self-effacing, it's hard-luck, the shtetl stories. All those Coasters things are an amalgam of Yiddish and black humor.
Our songs did not transcend being R&B hits. They were R&B hits that white kids were attracted to. And if people bought it, it became rock & roll. That's marketing. Why couldn't it still be R&B? The bass pattern didn't change. The song didn't change. It was still 'Yakety Yak' and 'Searchin'.'
Listen to any cantor, any good hazan, sing and you can hear a little bit of Ray Charles going on.
And there's always one special element. In 'There Goes My Baby,' it's the out-of-tune timpani. 'Stand by Me,' it's the bass pattern. Of course, all the elements come together to make a great record. But there's always one standout.
Teenagers especially are very, very conscious about what is hip and what is lame and what is square and what is out and what is in, you know. And, I mean, I grew up right there in the middle of a black culture. And I knew dead-on what it was.
The first memory I have was my sisters dancing to the radio when they played records by Benny Goodman and Harry James and of the sort. But the record that got me was a record by Derek Sampson, who was a young guy, called 'Boogie Express,' and it was boogie-woogie. Really, it was on fire, and that got me.
The Jewish background is not that far from the black groove. Blacks are downtrodden, Jews are downtrodden, therefore they have something in common in that affliction. Being downtrodden often makes one more empathetic and sympathetic.
I heard this music coming out of the radio and it was 'Ain't Nobody's Business.' It got me. I thought, 'I can do this.' I decided just like that. No romantic story.
I was brought up in black neighborhoods in South Baltimore. And we really felt like we were very black. We acted black and we spoke black. When I was a kid growing up, where I came from, it was hip to be black. To be white was kind of square.
Elvis Presley, you can't define him in a couple of sentences, but he was a country boy and he was very respectful.
Irving Berlin was the greatest songwriter of all time. I was in awe of him. But his music wasn't my music. My music was the blues.
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