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You Can't Catch Me
June 19, 2010 4:22 PM   Subscribe

You Can't Catch Me, Music and Lyrics by Chuck Berry. The Stones covered it. John Lennon was sued (twice!) for covering it and appropriating the lyrics. If Iggy Pop and the Stooges were never sued for doing the same thing as "Come Together" in 1970, perhaps it's because nobody could understand what exactly he was saying, not even the bands that took their names from the adapted lyrics. Perhaps JJ Cale was thinking of the chorus when he wrote Call Me The Breeze in 1971. Finally, though Jonothan Richman's "Roadrunner" clearly took inspiration from the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray and Bo Diddley's "Road Runner"(among other things), but, as a Berry fan, you can hear Richman echoing the lyrics in the Spirit of 1956 going Faster Miles an Hour, with the radio on, tuned to Rock And Roll.

More covers: Steven Stills. Blues Project.

Lyrics:

Can't Catch Me

I bought a brand new airmobile
It was custom made
It was a Flight DeVille
With an outboard motor
And some hideaway wings
Push in on the button and you can hear her sing
Now you can't catch me
No, baby, you can't catch me
'Cause if you get too close
You know I'm gone like a cool breeze

New Jersey Turnpike in the wee wee hours
I was rolling slowly 'cause of drizzlin' showers
Up come a flattop he was movin' up with me
Then come sailin' goodbye
In a little old suped up mini
I put my foot in my tank and I begin to roll
Moanin' sirens, was the state patrol
So I get out my wings and then I blew my horn
Bye-bye New Jersey I become airborne

Now you can't catch me
No, baby you can't catch me
'Cause if you get too close
You know I'm gone like a cool breeze

Flyin' with my baby last Saturday night
Wasn't no gray cloud floatin' in sight
Big full moon shinin' up above
Cuddle up honey be my love
Sweetest little thing that I ever seen
I'm gonna name you Mabelline
Flyin' with all the things set on flight control
Radio tuned to rock 'n' roll
Two, three hours passin' by
Altitude dropped to 505
Fuel consumption way too fast
Let's get on home before we run out of gas

Now you can't catch me
No baby, you can't catch me
'Cause if you get too close
You know I'm gone like a cool breeze

Come together
Here come old flattop. He come grooving up slowly
He got ju-ju eyeballs. He's one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

Shoot me! Shoot me! Shoot me!

He wear no shoeshine he's got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot Coca-Cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me.

Shoot me! Shoot me! Shoot me!

He buy production he got walrus scumble
He's got Ono sideboard he's got spinal cracker
He's got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his arms till you can feel his disease
Come together right now over me.

He's roller-coaster he's got early warning
He's got muddy water he's got mojo filter
He say "One and one and one is three"
Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now over me.


1970

Out of my mind on Saturday night
1970 rollin' in sight
Radio burnin' up above
Beautiful baby, feed my love

All night till I blow away
All night till I blow away
I feel alright, I feel alright

Baby oh baby, burn my heart
Baby oh baby, burn my heart
Fall apart baby, fall apart
Baby oh baby, burn my heart

All night till I blow away
All night till I blow away

I feel alright
I feel alright

Roadrunner

Roadrunner, roadrunner
Going faster miles an hour
Gonna drive past the Stop 'n' Shop
With the radio on
I'm in love with Massachusetts
And the neon when it's cold outside
And the highway when it's late at night
Got the radio on
I'm like the roadrunner

Alright
I'm in love with modern moonlight
128 when it's dark outside
I'm in love with Massachusetts
I'm in love with the radio on
It helps me from being alone late at night
It helps me from being lonely late at night
I don't feel so bad now in the car
Don't feel so alone, got the radio on
Like the roadrunner
That's right

Said welcome to the spirit of 1956
Patient in the bushes next to '57
The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick
Suburban trees, suburban speed
And it smells like heaven(thunder)
And I say roadrunner once
Roadrunner twice
I'm in love with rock & roll and I'll be out all night
Roadrunner
That's right

Well now
Roadrunner, roadrunner
Going faster miles an hour
Gonna drive to the Stop 'n' Shop
With the radio on at night
And me in love with modern moonlight
Me in love with modern rock & roll
Modern girls and modern rock & roll
Don't feel so alone, got the radio on
Like the roadrunner
posted by Potomac Avenue (43 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, State Trooper.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:13 PM on June 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I only see one word in "Come Together" that was also in "You can't catch me". It seems like Lennon just appropriated his own weird shouty singing style from one song to the other.
posted by amethysts at 5:22 PM on June 19, 2010


I've only recently got into post-Modern Lovers Jonathan Richman and I love it. Great to see some video of him. After the ipod crapped out today at work, I spent most of the afternoon singing "rah do dah do dah do deho!" and such.
posted by saul wright at 5:22 PM on June 19, 2010


...his own weird shouty singing style

what
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:50 PM on June 19, 2010


great post!
posted by Tristram Shandy, Gentleman at 6:31 PM on June 19, 2010


Speaking of mondegreens, this post is full of them. Don't depend on any of those lyrics sites -- they have no idea what they're about.

Chuck's air-mobile has a powerful motor and it's flying on the beam.

"Outboard motor", forsooth.

As for Lennon, he bag production, he got walrus gumboot, hold you in his armchair, et-bluddy-cetera.

And young girls get weary; nobody gets woolly.

Still: interesting to trace the influences. Nothing totally new under the sun.
posted by Herodios at 6:36 PM on June 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Don't depend on any of those lyrics sites

True, dat. They're often full of stupid and/or atrocious mistakes.

nice to see you around again, Herodios!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:42 PM on June 19, 2010


And young girls get weary; nobody gets woolly.

Yeah sure. Next you'll be telling us you can't breath through your eyelids.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2010


Don't depend on any of those lyrics sites

True, dat. They're often full of stupid and/or atrocious mistakes.


Yeah, a lot of contributions by folks with lots of enthusiasm who either have ears like harbour seal, or lack the cultural literacy to make sense of what they hear.

And you wouldn't believe some of the crappy guitar tab that's out there.

nice to see you around again, Herodios!

Lurking, Flap, lurking. Little time to research a proper post these days. Back atcha!
posted by Herodios at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2010


Chuck Berry's guitar does not appear to be plugged in, nor does he seem to have a microphone in the linked video. Does anyone know if they were lip syncing back then, or did they have some kind of wireless mics and pickups?
posted by sophist at 7:23 PM on June 19, 2010


I only see one word in "Come Together" that was also in "You can't catch me"

Berry: Up come a flattop he was movin' up with me...
Lennon: Here come old flattop. He come grooving up slowly...
posted by sophist at 7:27 PM on June 19, 2010


And it's not "souped up mini" it's souped up jitney.
posted by Faze at 7:28 PM on June 19, 2010


I only see one word in "Come Together" that was also in "You can't catch me"

And when John Lennon saw Morris Levy "groovin' up slowly" he said, "anything you say, Morris, ol' buddy ol' pal ... "
posted by Faze at 7:33 PM on June 19, 2010


A long while back I was walking by that alternator rebuild place on Capitol Hill in Seattle, sort of close to the Ferrari dealership, ironically enough.

And parked at the curb was a huge maroon Cadillac, around a 68 or 70. Black leather interior. Spotless, and everything looked stock, except for the bumper sticker on the huge chromed rear bumper. Printed in white block letters on a black background it read:

IF YOU THINK ELVIS INVENTED ROCK & ROLL
YOU DON'T KNOW DIDDLEY

Only time I ever saw the car.
posted by Relay at 7:40 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sophist, lip-syncing is older than recorded music itself, and this is not a particularly good example of it. On the other hand, they most definitely did not have wireless for guitar in 1956.

Faze, to be perfectly pedantic, that'd be suped-up, since there's no broth involved, but rather a supercharger. But, yeah, mini for jitney, that's what I meant about cultural literacy. If Lady Mondegreen never heard of a jitney, she won't hear the word /jitney/ in the lyrics.
posted by Herodios at 7:53 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


my apologies for these terrible lyrics sites...it's pretty hard to find official versions of old songs anywhere. i wish there was imdb of song lyrics!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:00 PM on June 19, 2010


I see, there's TWO words that are the same. Total rip-off.
posted by amethysts at 8:05 PM on June 19, 2010


Berry's moves in that clip are just so much fun. Foot on the gas pedal, looking back over his shoulder at the oncoming car... he should've gotten some sort of award for One-Man Rock'n'Roll Chroreography.

It had been a long time since I'd seen this clip, and it's a real pleasure to see it again. I happen to think this song represents Chuck Berry at his best. Thanks for the post, Potomac Avenue!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on June 19, 2010


I want some of whatever you were smoking when you thought Iggy's "1970" was the same as "Come Together." I can't find the least resemblance.

And BTW, this is too minor for Meta, but this story has the worst RSS preview I have ever seen.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:24 PM on June 19, 2010


Funny, no one's yet mentioned when John Lennon got to actually play with Chuck Berry (who he called one of his heroes) when both appeared together on The Mike Douglas Show in 1972. They did "Memphis, Tennessee" and "Johnny B. Goode."
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2010


I want some of whatever you were smoking when you thought Iggy's "1970" was the same as "Come Together." I can't find the least resemblance.

Um, I think the point was that they did the same thing, i.e. borrowed from "You Can't Catch Me"—not that they were the same thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 PM on June 19, 2010


I want some of whatever you were smoking when you thought Iggy's "1970" was the same as "Come Together." I can't find the least resemblance.

Dude, I can hook you up with some shut that'll make you think Karen Carpenter is Janis Joplin. If that's, like, what you want.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:12 PM on June 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


(best shut you'll ever smike)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:13 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


And young girls get weary; nobody gets woolly.

Not even Sam the Sham?
posted by Rangeboy at 10:16 PM on June 19, 2010


I can dig this form of rock and roll criticism.
posted by mwhybark at 10:49 PM on June 19, 2010


Um, I think the point was that they did the same thing, i.e. borrowed from "You Can't Catch Me"—not that they were the same thing.

Nope, I don't see that either.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:11 PM on June 19, 2010


great post, by the way.
posted by saul wright at 11:30 PM on June 19, 2010



Not quite the same kind of thing but consider this:

Beatles: I Feel Fine
Ray Parker: Watch Your Step


As to ignoring the playback in favor of a more 'interesting' performance, consider these:

The Move: California Man
The Police: Roxanne

And here's a master class in borrowing:

Steve Miller: The Joker
The Clovers: Lovey Dovey
The Medallions: The Letter

Check the line around 2:00 in that last one -- "discuss the puppetutes of love". (Yes, I know Cecil Adams covered this long ago, but did you ever listen to the actual records?)

Steve Miller Space Cowboy
Beatles: Lady Madonna
. . .and the melody for that falsetto 'da da da dada dada dada da da dadada DAT' bit in the bridge was lifted, too, but I can't remember anymore from what. I think it's Thelonious Monk, but don't quote me.
posted by Herodios at 11:58 PM on June 19, 2010


Monk's Epistrophy?
posted by GeckoDundee at 1:10 AM on June 20, 2010


I know that "Come Together" was a John-written song, but seeing as it was credited as "Lennon/McCartney", why wasn't Paul sued as well (other than as a part of Apple)?
posted by frodisaur at 1:14 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beatles: Taxman
The Jam: Start

Cutting Crew: I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight
Blur: Fool's Day

Barry Manilow: Oh Mandy
The Strokes: Razorblade

Xerox: Mobile OS
Apple: iOS4
posted by juiceCake at 7:18 AM on June 20, 2010


Chicago, "25 or 6 to 4"
Led Zepplin, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" (starting around 2:30)

The Marcels, "Blue Moon"
Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love" (guitar solo)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:49 AM on June 20, 2010


"When I'm 25 or 64" mashup
posted by kirkaracha at 7:52 AM on June 20, 2010


The Beatles - Sexy Sadie
Jet - Look What You've Done
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2010


U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Seal - Love's Divine
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2010


Tom Petty - American Girl
The Strokes - Last Nite

"A lot of rock 'n' roll songs sound alike. Ask Chuck Berry. The Strokes took 'American Girl' [for their song 'Last Nite'], and I saw an interview with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, 'OK, good for you.' It doesn’t bother me." - Tom Petty
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:21 AM on June 20, 2010


GeckoDundee: Monk's Epistrophy?

No, that's not it. It's a 100% obvious lift when you hear it, but I can't quite conjure it just now.
posted by Herodios at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2010


Funny thing about the Strokes -- I saw the classic Doors performance of "Light My Fire" on Ed Sullivan the other day for the first time in a long time, and I was all like, Oh, that's where the Strokes got that. Jim Morrison's baritone, complete with overblown microphone and disaffectionate swagger, are pretty much Julian Casablancas' stock and trade.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny thing about the Strokes -- I saw the classic Doors performance of "Light My Fire" on Ed Sullivan the other day for the first time in a long time, and I was all like, Oh, that's where the Strokes got that. Jim Morrison's baritone, complete with overblown microphone and disaffectionate swagger, are pretty much Julian Casablancas' stock and trade.

I just watched that clip. That's a really good point. Incidentally, what a mediocre performance by those musicians!
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:20 AM on June 20, 2010


"More Than A Feeling" - Boston

listen at about :43 for the riff, then go to:

"Take Five" - Northside

I've spun "Take Five" as part of a Madchester set when I DJ, and even overheard an audience member state specifically that Northside either inadvertently or intentionally ripped off Boston.

So yeah, Boston, if you recover damages, throw something my way please!
posted by kuppajava at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2010


Wire - Three Girl Rhumba
Elastica - Connection

Wire - I Am the Fly
Elastica - Line Up

The Stranglers - No More Heroes
Elastica - Waking Up

k.d. lang - Constant Craving
Rolling Stones - Anybody Seen My Baby

New Order - Age of Consent
The Strokes - Barely Legal
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on June 20, 2010


Wire - Three Girl Rhumba
Elastica - Connection


Wow, what a rip-off, and what an improvement!
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2010


Great post!
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2010


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