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Jerry Leiber – Profiles In Rock

List Of The Day

One of the most successful songwriters in the history of rock 'n' roll -- back when there really was a "roll" component -- has died at the age of 78.

His name in Jerry Leiber and his name was often seen in tandem with his frequent songwriting partner Mike Stoller. The two met in Los Angeles in 1950, with Stoller primarily handling the music and Leiber writing the words.

Here are 25 songs that will outlast us all.

25) "On Broadway": Originally written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, "On Broadway" got a touch-up from Leiber and Stoller when they handed the song over to the Drifters. Does anyone not know this song? And if you don't, shouldn't you enroll in a class teaching you the history of earth?

24) "Don't": Elvis Presley got a lot of his songs from Leiber and Stoller, which is partly why he was so good. You can have a great voice and image, but what is it if you don't have the songs?

23) "Young Blood": There was even a Leiber and Stoller week on American Idol. Now do you people believe me that this guy was important? Scott McCreery covered this track, though you might remember this song from the TV show Happy Days or by the Coasters.

22) "Some Other Guy": Every Beatles fan the world over has seen that "rare" footage of the Fab Four rocking out this tune from the Cavern Club.

21) "Lucky Lips": Cliff Richard was Britain's big star, the guy the Beatles once dreamed of being as big as until they became even more popular. Richard had a hit with this in the UK and other places, but not the U.S. because we were waiting for the Beatles.

20) "Kansas City": Recorded by Wilbert Harrison, "Kansas City" is now probably best known by its Little Richard or Beatles version, despite the fact that Harrison had the bigger hit with it the first time around. Revisionism! It's everywhere!

19) "Love Me": Elvis Presley really didn't need a song like "Love Me." His audience hardly needed the encouragement. They already loved him. But it remained in his repertoire until the end.

18) "Love Potion #9": Just as Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" sounds kinda quaint when you hear it open with the shout of "1989," "Love Potion #9" has a similar moment where he's a flop with chicks since 1956. Nice to see, though, that being a loser has always been in style. George Clooney does not relate.

17) "Yakety-Yak": King Curtis is on sax. It's one of those novelty records that little kids keep begging their parents to play over and over until said parents wish to kill them.

16) "Charlie Brown": Again, King Curtis kicks in on sax and the group, the Coasters, get to joke along much to the joy of children everywhere. Eventually, the name of a restaurant. Never been there, but used to drive by quite frequently.

15) "Three Cool Cats": The b-side to "Charlie Brown," "Three Cool Cats" is known by Beatles fans as being featured on the Decca audition tape that didn't get the band signed and inspired the guy in charge to tell their manager that groups with guitars were on their way out. Which turned about to be true, fifty years later.

14) "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots"": There was a time when jeans were so foreign to straight society that they could be known as trousers. At least Leiber didn't call them slacks.

13) "Riot In Cell Block #9": Leiber didn't just write words to sing. He often liked to tell a story. Covered by the Grateful Dead, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen and the Robins who had a hit in 1954.

12) "Student Demonstration Time": Mike Love of the Beach Boys always wanted to be part of the act, so he took the music of "Riot in Cell Block #9" and wrote his own words on top of it. Somehow I don't think Brian Wilson ever felt particularly artistically challenged with this guy in his group.

11) "I (Who Have Nothing)": Long before emo and sadcore and other woe-is-moe is music, Leiber wrote this lovely parenthetical number that was originally known in English by Ben E. King and then by everyone from Terry Knight and the Pack, Tom Jones, Sylvester and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks.

10) "Searchin'": Long before Sarah Palin began dropping the "g" from her words, Leiber was having hits with the stuff. Here, with the Coasters.

9) "Is That All There Is?: Peggy Lee had the hit with this Jean-Paul Sartre inspired (or it that Nietzche?") number.

8) "I'm A Woman": This is what we call using your imagination. Neither Leiber nor Stoller were women.

7) "Jailhouse Rock": Back when Elvis made good movies, he also, coincidentally, had great songs to accompany them.

6) "Trouble": Elvis Presley got a quite a few songs from Leiber and Stoller. He (or someone in the Elvis camp) decided to use this tune to open his "comeback special." Likely because there was a time when parents viewed Elvis as being exactly this....trouble. Can you imagine? Elvis?

5) "Poison Ivy": Songs about sexually transmitted diseases are always popular with the kids.

4) "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care": Covered by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Cee Lo Green among the many, Leiber proved he could write parenthetical rock.

3) "Spanish Harlem": Mike Stoller didn't get a credit on this song because they were working with Phil Spector and as you may have heard Phil Spector is, uh, crazy.

2) "Stand By Me": With over 400 cover versions of this song, including Muhammad Ali, Lemmy from Motorhead, John Lennon and Otis Redding, "Stand By Me" is an all-time classic, though, chances are you are more familiar with the Ben E. King version than the one by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

1) "Hound Dog": Leiber was irritated that Elvis Presley changed the words to this hit he wrote for Big Mama Thornton. The song was written about a sleazy guy, after all, and not a canine. Get your rabbit off my lawn, kid!

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