Musical Misconceptions: The Carols

Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.

Hey there folks! It’s Retro Dee with another edition of Musical Misconceptions!

In this edition, we’ll be talking about another pair of songs that can easily be confused by their titles. They both come from the same wonderful era of Malt Shop music, and they both have the popular girl’s name of the day, “Carol” in them.

One song is called “Carol” by Chuck Berry, while the other is called “Oh! Carol” and is by Neil Sedaka. This can get confusing, but the good news is the two songs sound nothing alike!

“Carol” is a song by Chuck Berry released in 1958. In the lyrics he addresses her with “Oh, Carol!”, which is not only the title of Neil Sedaka’s song, his lyrics say the same thing! But! Once you listen to these two tunes, there’s no way you can get them mixed up.

Chuck Berry’s song is an early Rock n Roll classic, complete with killer guitar and Chuck’s signature Rockabilly style. In the lyrics, he implores Carol not to let her heart be stolen away by “him” (“him”, obviously being the other man.) He also says he’s gonna learn how to dance, presumably so he can be the one who wins over Carol.

If you thought this song is by The Rolling Stones, you’re half right. They did their cover of it in 1964. Despite that fact, “Carol” is, was, and will always be an original by Mr. Chuck Berry!

Now let’s have a look at the second song with “Carol” in the title.

“Oh! Carol” by Neil Sedaka was released in 1961 and has a different sound; I’d call it early pop, if I had to place it in a genre. It’s got a bit of that teenage bubble-gum thing going for sure. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great classic.

In this song, the singer is in a frantic panic over Carol. He states in the first line that he is “but a fool” and loves her even though she treats him cruel. (which also happens to rhyme, how ‘bout that?)

The lyrics continue with the boy saying that although Carol makes him cry, he’ll surely die if she leaves him. This Carol sounds like a real piece of work, but he desperately loves her none-the-less. He’s in a real bind, but it makes for a great song.

Now let’s have a listen to the two songs. Hopefully this will ensure that none of us ever gets them confused again!

And to all the Carols out there: this is for you!

Voting is now open in the final round of our eighth annual Grooveyard Great 88 survey.   Pick your 15 favorites in each of the three polls, covering songs that were hits in 1957 and earlier, 1958-1960 and 1961-1963.  You can vote daily through December 9 at 10 PM.  Results will be announced during a special five-hour edition of “The Grooveyard”  on December 28 starting at 7 PM.

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