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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.
Since his debut single "I'm On Fire" in 1975, Dwight has been providing Spinal-Tap moments and misadventure.
Tony Joe White
The writer of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie" explains how he cooks up his Louisiana swamp rock.
Mike Watt - "History Lesson, Pt. 2"
Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."