Me and Suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was doing a thing called the Crocodile Rock
While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock
We were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock
Well Crocodile Rocking is still something shocking
When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh, Lawdy mama, those Friday nights
When Suzie wore her dresses tight
And the Crocodile Rocking was out of sight.
But the years went by and the rock just died
Suzie went and left me for some foreign guy
Long nights crying by the record machine
Dreaming of my Chevy and my old blue jeans
But they’ll never kill the thrills we got
Burning up to the Crocodile Rock
Learning fast as the weeks went past
We really thought the Crocodile Rock would last (to Chorus)
That is Elton John’s Crocodile Rock from 1972. Some of the other songs that I’ve written about have one song that was the inspiration: Here, There and Everywhere was inspired by God Only Knows, Killing Me Softly by Empty Chairs. Crocodile Rock was inspired by most of the music from Elton John’s youth. Yup, pretty much all of it. Elton was born in 1947, and Bernie Taupin, his lyricist, was born in 1950. The songs that have direct ties to Crocodile Rock are primarily from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. Some of them are pretty obvious. Bill Haley and His Comets’ Rock Around the Clock is even mentioned in the lyrics.
Some get a little less blatant. There is an entire genre of music from the 1950s that had the falsetto la-la-las. Del Shannon’s Cry Myself to Sleep from 1962 has a lot in common with Crocodile Rock. The structure of the verse is very similar, and the high-pitched las are just as annoying. (Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Crocodile Rock. But the falsetto las are very, very annoying.)
Bill Haley and His Comets has another reference in this song. Not only is his Rock Around the Clock sung about, but the title is probably a riff on his See You Later, Alligator.
I was surprised to find that there had been a plagiarism lawsuit brought against Elton and Bernie. In 1974, suit was brought by Buddy Kaye for a song he’d written called Speedy Gonzales. Speedy was recorded by Pat Boone in 1961. (Do not bother listening. That is 2 ½ minutes that I’ll never get back.) The song is notable for the fact that it used the voice of Mel Blanc, the voice of Speedy in cartoons dating back to his first appearance in Cat-Tails for Two back in 1953. The wording is a little odd: Elton and Bernie “illegally incorporated chords from Speedy Gonzales which produced a falsetto tone into the Crocodile song.” I’m not entirely sure what that means. But they settled out of court.
Crocodile Rock was Elton John’s first number one hit in the US. He has called it “disposable pop.” Bernie Taupin has said that he would rather be remembered for things like Candle in the Wind or Empty Garden. I even read that DJs came to hate this song. It was just too catchy. And it still is.
My favorite version is the one from Elton’s appearance on The Muppet Show, singing in a swamp with muppet Crocodiles singing the annoying la’s. I could only find one version of the song that was not by Elton John, and that was from the soundtrack to Gnomeo and Juliet. So, this week I will be playing some other Elton John songs on my Minnich Music FaceBook page this week, so be sure to check them out.
Until next time!