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Charlie Brown

by

The Coasters



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Like most Coaster's songs, this was written by the songwriting team of Leiber And Stoller. They wrote hits for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. The songs they wrote for The Coasters were usually more comical.
Leiber and Stoller made up the story of Charlie Brown, a kid who is always getting in trouble and wonders why everyone's always picking on him. It has nothing to do with the character in The Peanuts comic strip. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
Jerry Leiber, of Leiber and Stoller fame, reports that the phrase "He's a clown, that Charlie Brown" occurred to him after a long creative dry spell. Their previous Coasters hit was "Yakety Yak," which almost wrote itself when Mike Stoller was fooling around on the piano and Leiber yelled from the kitchen, "Take out the papers and the trash!"
For "Charlie Brown," Mike Stoller already had a melody written, to which the lyrics were fitted.
n the book Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, Mike Stoller tells of the fascinating character that was Cornell Gunter: "...you wouldn't exactly call Cornell macho. The minute he opened his mouth, you knew he was gay. He had a queenly elocution and, in fact, did a dead-on imitation of the Queen of the Blues, Dinah Washington, too." You can hear this slight lisp in the line "Why is everybody always picking on me?" In spite of this, he had an 18-inch neck, considerable strength, and once threw an assailant over a pickup truck!
This song was also played and referenced in the Robin Williams film Jack, including a parody of the tagline when Bill Cosby (playing Jack's teacher) exclaims "Why is everybody always falling on me?" after their tree house crashes to the ground.
The BBC banned this song because of the bad behavior Charlie Brown demonstrated, especially throwing spitballs. This ban was soon lifted.
The Coasters
More The Coasters songs
More songs with boys' names in the title
More songs with colors in the title
More songs written by Leiber and Stoller

Comments (8):

I always smile at the Chipmunkian line, 'Yeah, you!'
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
According to Glenn Altschuler in _All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America_ the lyrics to Charlie Brown are an example of how Rock N Roll songs have presented stereotypes of blacks as comic figures. (see page 57)
- Christy, Rome, GA
oops..I mean in the fifties and sixties. my mistake .
- Chomper, Franjkin County, PA
(from the book "The Wacky Top 40" ") Rock On : .. After writing hits in the and early sixies for the Coasters and such stars as Elvis Presley , the Drifters , and Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller oversaw the rise of top girl groups like the Dixie Cups and the Shangri - Las, produced records for Procol Harum, and scored a number of movies. ...As for the Coasters, tragedy struck several former and newer members. .. In 1961, saxaphonist King Curtis was stabbed to death outside his apartment. ..In 1980, bass singer Nathaniel "Buster" Wilson was shot and killed, his body dismembered and dumped near Hoover Dam. ..Six days later, Bobby Nunn died of a heart attack. ..In 1990, tenor Cornelius Gunter was gunned down in his car. ...In 1987, Leiber and Stoller and the Coasters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Chomper, Franjkin County, PA
I was always under the impression that charlie brown was written by charles millette, originally, around 1956/ 57. Further it was written about a kid in our 7th grade class, (of the same name), and was a pretty good description of him. The school was Mark Twain jhs in Bklyn. NY.
- STEW, BKLYN, NY
The line "Who calls the English teacher Daddy-O?" is a reference to The Blackboard Jungle.
- Alex, Albany, NY
I like the part where the bass voice says "Why is everybody always picking on me?" I can do that part very well and right in sync.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
What a great song. I like alot of the Coaster's songs but this is the one most people associate with them when you hear it.
- Dee, Indianapolis, IN
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