That's Chuck Fuckin' Berry!

(Blueberry Hill, The Loop)

Then Chuck Berry comes out onstage — Chuck fuckin' Berry! — dressed in baggy pleated pants, a wild shirt and a polished bolo tie that glistens under the lights, his hair brushed back, looking like the coolest thing you've ever seen, sounding as beautiful and familiar as your own mother's voice. There he is — the human personification of the music that changed the world, goofing off with his band — which looks pretty unglamorous comparatively — ordinary guys who just happened to be walking down Delmar when someone handed them instruments, said, "Think you could play these things, like, right now?"

There he is, with guitar, delivering cavalcades of the distinctive sound that made him famous, making it look too easy.

But he's working. The sweat streaming down his face testifies to that. What do you do, he asks, if you get an itch but you're playing guitar with both hands?

Crowd laughs. He could make any joke and the crowd would laugh. Because, well, he's Chuck fuckin' Berry!

Imagine what it must've been like in 1955 — imagine you're some knucklehead kid, bored to the point of simmering outrage, made a halfwit by the tedium of your environment, driving along in your dad's 1952 Ford and "Maybellene" comes on the radio and you hear it for the first time. It must've seemed like the world turned different colors — or maybe that was the moment when the world went color.

So why doesn't he play it?

 
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