Poison Ivy

Album: Greatest Hits (1959)
Charted: 15 7
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This was written by the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The song is about a femme fatale who is beautiful but dangerous, and much like poison ivy, can get under your skin and make you sick - or at least that's what we thought until 2009, when Leiber revealed in Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography: "'Poison Ivy' is a metaphor for a sexually transmitted disease - or the clap." Leiber and Stoller wrote another song in 1959 about a woman you might want to avoid in "Love Potion #9."
  • This song is known for the ebullient chorus, where the word "Ivy" is stretched to its limit. It is also the only hit song with the words "Calamine Lotion" in the lyrics.
  • Some of the many artists to record this song include The Hollies, The Lambrettas, Manfred Mann, The Nylons, The Paramounts, Billy Thorpe and The Rolling Stones. Since the song wasn't big in England, British groups could perform it without being compared to The Coasters. British mod-revival group The Lambrettas catchy re-make was the most successful, peaking at #7 in the UK charts in 1980. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This was used in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin, where Uma Thurman plays a villain named Poison Ivy. The song also appears in the movies Stealing Home (1988) and The Singing Detective (2003), and in the TV series Curb Your Enthusiasm ("AAMCO" - 2000) and Miami Vice ("Golden Triangle: Part 2" - 1985).

Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 4th 1959, Dick Clark's 'Caravan of the Stars of 1959' appeared at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit...
    One of the acts to appear were the Coasters; at the time their "Poison Ivy" was at #54 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, a little over five weeks later on October 12th it peaked at #7 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 16 weeks...
    Frankie Avalon was also on the bill; and earlier in 1959 his "Venus" was at #1 for five weeks, and for three of those weeks the Coasters' "Charlie Brown" was at #2.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyBetween May 1957 & August 1959 The Coasters charted seven time and made the Top Ten six times; Searchin' {#3}, Young Blood {#8}, Idol With the Golden Head {#64}, Yakety Yak {#1}, Charlie Brown {#2}, Along Came Jones {#9}, and Poison Ivy {7}...
  • Joel from Lawrence, KsThere was also a made for television film starring Michael J Fox called Poison Ivy. Uma Thurman also played Poison Ivy in a Batman and Robin film.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumA very good song of super writing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
  • Harold from San Bernadino, CaI thought the Stones did a pretty good version of this one as well.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG's, Blues Brothers)

Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG's, Blues Brothers)Songwriter Interviews

Steve Cropper on the making of "In the Midnight Hour," the chicken-wire scene in The Blues Brothers, and his 2021 album, Fire It Up.

Phone Booth Songs

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.

Joe Jackson

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney Princesses

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Benny Mardones

Benny MardonesSongwriter Interviews

His song "Into The Night" is one of the most-played of all time. For Benny, it took him to hell and back.

Real or Spinal Tap

Real or Spinal TapMusic Quiz

They sang about pink torpedoes and rocking you tonight tonight, but some real lyrics are just as ridiculous. See if you can tell which lyrics are real and which are Spinal Tap in this lyrics quiz.