Why’s Everybody Always Pickin On Me?

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Album: Yakety Yak (Atco)

Song: Charlie Brown (1959)

Artist: The Coasters

Writers: Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller

Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown
He’s a clown, that Charlie Brown
He’s gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me)

The Coasters, often called ‘the clown princes of 1950’s rock,’ had a no. 2 hit in March 1959 with Charlie Brown. It was one of many songs by the Coasters written by two of the most important figures in Rock and Roll history, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who organized the group.

Like Yakety Yak, the title song from the album, Charlie Brown was one of their comical novelty songs. Songs that Leiber called playlets, they were funny songs but with serious overtones. Stoller simply called them ‘cartoons,’ which is about as apt as you can get with a title like Charlie Brown. Other notable songs from the album are Searchin’Poison Ivy, and Young Blood.

You may be wondering, though, how songs like this could be from a couple of guys who were “two of the most important figures in Rock and Roll history.” Well, they also shaped Elvis’ career with songs like Hound Dog, which was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton and Willie Mae. Other classic songs by the duo include:

Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley
Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison
Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
Spanish Harlem – Ben E. King (Leiber and Phil Spector)
There Goes my Baby
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Smokey Joe’s Cafe – The Robins
On Broadway – The Drifters

Elvis Presley recorded 24 of their songs in all.

The Coasters were formed from the remnants of an earlier group, The Robins, above. They had nine top forty hits between 1957 and 1959. Although I well remember Charlie Brown, which still received airplay during the 1970s, Yakety Yak was probably The Coasters best-known recording, even though most people probably never knew the actual group behind the vocals. Their first big hit was Searchin’, which the Beatles recorded along with Three Cool Cats on their demo tape for Decca Records. Youngblood, originally released as the B-side of Searchin, has been covered many times.

Listen to Charlie Brown by The Coasters

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