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Send More Chuck Berry

(The Daily Music Break periodically re-posts content from earlier in the life of the site. This post, which has been tweaked due to the disappearance and reappearance of the video, originally posted on March 18, 2012.)

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Old joke:

NASA, in an effort to make contact with civilizations on other planets, sends a rocket into space packed with cultural items and a planetary map showing our location. There are great novels, reproductions of famous artwork, music recordings, histories of mankind, movies and assorted other things on board. A few years later a rocket lands on earth. It contains an envelope and, inside, a piece of paper with strange markings on it.

The government pulls together a team of the greatest scientists and linguists to figure out what it says. After six months, the lead researcher calls the president and says they have broken the code. The president says, “Great, what is the message?” The researcher pauses and says, “They want us to send more Chuck Berry.”

The good thing about the joke is that you can plug in any artist. I think of it as a Chuck Berry joke only because that’s how I first heard it.

Above is a good version of “Promised Land.” Below is “C’est la Vie” (the song featured in Pulp Fiction) from the early 1970s. Here’s Berry’s website and a nicely done discography.

Homepage photo: Sumori

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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