Jerry Leiber died yesterday at the age of 78.
Let me preface this post by saying I was obsessed with The Coasters when I was a kid. OBSESSED. I had a two-tape compilation of all their songs (including from when some of them were The Robins) that I listened to over and over and over and over. I can still sing most of their greatest and lesser hits word-for-word (and will do so with very little prompting).
And to be obsessed with The Coasters was to be obsessed with the two men behind their music: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
I can’t even list all of the songs I loved. Yakety Yak, Charlie Brown, Little Egypt (for all the silliness), Searchin’, Along Came Jones, Smokey Joe’s Cafe (for The Robins), Down in Mexico, Poison Ivy. I guess they also arranged Hound Dog for Elvis, which I didn’t actually know until I started reading the obits. All catchy, mostly peppy songs, a beautiful partnership between Stoller’s music and Leiber’s lyrics.
Every time I had a chore to do, I’d bounce along to Yakety Yak. Every day that ended in Y, my brother and I would harmonize on Along Came Jones. (well, he did. I can’t sing.) Leiber and Stoller and the artists they influenced were the sounds of my childhood.
So rest in peace, Mr. Leiber, and thank you for all the happy memories.
Here are a few of my Coasters favorites:
Charlie Brown (I don’t really understand this video but it’s FAB)
Along Came Jones
Poison Ivy (maybe my favorite?)