Jailhouse Rock

Album: Elvis' 30 #1 Hits (1957)
Charted: 1 1
  • songfacts ®
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  • Lyrics
  • The warden threw a party in the county jail
    The prison band was there and they began to wail
    The band was jumpin' and the joint began to swing
    You should've heard them knocked out jailbirds sing
    Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Spider Murphy played the tenor saxophone
    Little Joe was blowin' on the slide trombone
    The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang
    The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang
    Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Number forty-seven said to number three
    You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see
    I sure would be delighted with your company
    Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me
    Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Sad sack was sittin' on a block of stone
    Way over in the corner weepin' all alone
    The warden said, hey, buddy, don't you be no square
    If you can't find a partner use a wooden chair
    Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Shifty Henry said to Bugs, for heaven's sake
    No one's lookin', now's our chance to make a break
    Bugsy turned to Shifty and he said, nix nix
    I want to stick around a while and get my kicks
    Let's rock, everybody, let's rock
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock
    Dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock
    Dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock

    Dancin' to the Jailhouse RockWriter/s: Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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Comments: 36

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm {06-14-2018}...
    Dominic Joseph “D.J.” Fontana, Elvis Presley’s original drummer, passed away Wednesday (June 13th, 2018) at the age of 87...
    Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, D.J. was the house drummer for the “Louisiana Hayride” program when he was tapped to join the King, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black on tour and in the studio (Bill’s “slap-back” upright bass had provided percussion on the early Sun Records recordings so D.J. was the first drummer used by Elvis)...
    D.J. worked on the King’s early million-sellers, was seen on his 1956 TV appearances and even in films like “Jailhouse Rock”. Though not officially an Elvis employee after 1958, he and Scotty continue to work on Elvis’ sessions into the ‘60s and on his “Comeback” TV special. He was inducted as a sideman into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
    May he R.I.P.
  • Jessica from Tennessee"If you can't find a partner, use a wooden chair" was not talking about sex....it was talking about dancing. If you can't find a partner to dance with, dance with a wooden chair.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaGreat drums. Liked Mike's piano too.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 24th 1958, at 6:35 a.m., Elvis reported to Local Draft Board #86 in Memphis, TN accompanied by his parents, Gladys and Vernon, as well as longtime friend Lamar Fike...
    Elvis and 12 other recruits were soon taken by bus to Kennedy Veterans Memorial Hospital and inducted into the U.S. Army, he was assigned serial number 53310761 with a starting pay of $78 a month...
    At the time his "Jailhouse Rock" was at #76 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; a little over twenty two weeks earlier on October 20th, 1957 it had peaked at #1 on the Top 100...
    Also at the time the King's "Don't" was at #7 on the Top 100, and according to Billboard it was tied at #7 with "Breathless" by Jerry Lee Lewis.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 27th 1957, Elvis appeared in concert at the Oakland Auditorium in Oakland, California...
    Just before the concert began the local police informed The King not to swivel his hips during his performance, during the show Elvis responded by wiggling only his little finger while singing...
    At the time "Jailhouse Rock" was at #1 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; and at #2 on both the Best Seller in Stores and Most Played by Jockeys chart...
    And the record's B-side, "Treat Me Nice", was at #84* on the Top 100 chart...
    * According to Billboard, "Treat Me Nice" was actually tied at #84 with Billy Ward's covered version of "Deep Purple".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 15th 1958, Elvis appeared in concert at Russwood Park in Memphis, TN; it would be his last concert* before his induction {March 24th, 1958} in the U.S. Army...
    At the time of the concert he had three records on Billboard's Top 100 chart; "Don't' {at #8}, "I Beg of You" {at #59}, and "Jailhouse Rock" {at #94}...
    * His next concert would be three years and ten days later on March 25th, 1961; it was a benefit concert to aid in the construction of the 'USS Arizona Memorial' at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 10th 1957, Elvis Presley performed at the Honolulu Stadium in Hawaii; he did two shows, 3 pm & 8:15 pm, and ticket prices ranged from $1.50 to $3.50...
    These were his last concerts of the 1950s; four months later on March 24th, 1958 he entered the U.S. Army...
    At the time of these concerts, "Jailhouse Rock" was in its 4th of 7 weeks at #1 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; and was at #2 on both the Country & R&B singles chart...
    The record's B-side, "Treat Me Nice", was at #63 and "Teddy Bear" at #82...
    In the United Kingdom he had four records in the Top 20, with "Let's Have a Party" at #2.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 29th 1957, Elvis performed at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California...
    After the show he met with Rick Nelson, at the time Rick's "Be-Bop Baby" was at #5 on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    And Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock"* was in its 2nd week at #1 on the Top 100, it spent a total of 7 weeks in the top spot...
    * The record's B-side, "Treat Me Nice" was also on the chart, it was at #30.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 5th 1957, Elvis recorded "Treat Me Nice" at the Radio Recorders Studios in West Hollywood, CA
    It was released as the B-side of "Jailhouse Rock" and entered Billboard's Top 100 chart in October 1957 and peaked at #18 on Billboard’s Most Played by Jockeys chart...
    The recording session was held to record songs for Elvis' upcoming Christmas album and was the only song recorded that didn't have a holiday theme...
    Personally; along with "Don't" and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame", it is one of my three favorite Elvis songs.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 31st 1957, Elvis appeared at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver, Canada...
    He performed only four songs; "Money Honey", "That's When your Heartaches Begin", "Hound Dog", and "Jailhouse Rock"...
    After "Jailhouse Rock" Col. Tom Parker ordered Elvis off stage due to the surging fans; the concert lasted a total of twenty two minutes...
    It was Elvis' third and last time he would performed outside the U.S.A., earlier in the year {April} he did shows in Toronto and Ottawa...
    At the time of the concert Elvis had three songs on Billboard's Top 100 chart; "Teddy Bear" {at #3}, "Loving You" {at #34}, and "All Shook Up" {at #48}...
    Tickets for the Vancouver show ranged from $1.50 to $3.50 and the attendance was 26,000 fans...
    R.I.P. to The King {1935 - 1977}.
  • Ukiah from Sidney, BcI don't know if I should do this song for a leadership group in my school in front of the whole school should I do it.
  • Fox Naif from Gold Coast, AustraliaThanks Robin, Culver City: You sure I'll Mess You Up recorded before Jailhouse Rock? Just played it and was amazed to hear the similarities, particular the guitar riff.
  • Robin from Culver City, CaLieber and Stoller TOOK that song from my guy who passed Eugene Church and Jesse Belvin, also known as The Cliques. They wrote a song I'll Mess You Up and Lieber and Stoller haunted the studios in L.A. and took songs and bits of songs and made into hits for some groups or even Elvis. Please listen to I'll Mess You Up and the music and breaks are exact to Jail House Rock, which was released later. This was common practice and Lieber and Stoller were good at it, unfortunately, many original artists got no credit or had to fight for any if at all.
  • Meocyber from Alma, Co Ok, this was one of Elvis hardest rockin' numbers But I think songfacts should have included "Steamroller" on the list. It's one of his last tough songs.
  • David from Youngstown, OhDill,
    How I wish the real world was like your fantasy world with unicorns jumping over rainbows. How is that not a reference to prison sex?

    Let's enjoy the song for what it is - a great rock tune with lyrics about some strange happenings in jail. What warden is going to throw a party at the county jail?
  • Dill from Alexandria, VaPosted above: "Number 47 said to number 3, You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see," is a sly reference to prison sex.
    (I see below this is already talked too much)
    No, it's not a reference to prison sex. People always look for sex in 40's and 50's lyrics when it's just not there. Words like "gay" and "blow" didn't mean anything back then, guys dressed like girls for laughs and some guy telling another guy what a cute jailbird he is, that's just meant to be funny.
  • Michael from Eastleigh, United Kingdomjust about the entire universe has heard jailhouse rock .one of the greatest rock songs of any era. nobody sings it better than elvis. but has anyone heard the alternate take. it's on essential elvis no 1 together with soundtracks from love me tender and loving you [with some alternate takes]. check it out, i think you'll like it.
  • Mark from Dublin, Irelandone of my favourites from the king...also like the blues brothers singing it...
  • Vingthor from Catskills, NyIan & David...stop flirting & get a room....( or , commit a crime & hook-up , {}_ (o) {}_ ) ..Juss-kiddin'... couldn't help myself =) . ya know , I've known the lyrics a long time & sang the song a million times & It never occurred to me what they meant.....which is kinda odd , 'cause with Elvis , He has the ability to help ya thru tuff times &/or cheer up ...BECAUSE of the "personal connection" U feel when He sings...( girls & guys , alike ). PS: I just came across this site as I was research'n Elvis & saw top-2 comments , thought it was funny & had ta join so I could bust U-2's chops. God , I need a life!! Anyway , THANKS 4 the giggle.........VINGTHOR
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaHey, lay off! I just misread your post, okay? I thought you were talking about men having sex and then saying what's even more disturbing, and thus saying that men having sex was disturbing. I was not planting my mind with what I wanted to see and then acting upon that. I've heard many a person (mostly religious) complain about how wrong it is, and I most certainly do not want to see another one of those. I get what you're saying now, and I agree with it. It was just simple miscommunication.
  • David from Youngstown, OhMen having sex is not disturbing. But what is disturbing is prisoners using wooden chairs as a sex partner. Typically, if you're using a wooden chair in prison as a sex partner, you're most likely being raped by prisoners with the chair. That's not disturbing to you? Also, forceable rape in prison is also disturbing. Read the post and not what you want to see.
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaDavid, how is it disturbing that men have sex? What's wrong with that?
  • David from Youngstown, OhYou've got to be kidding, Maha. Right? Men have sex and rape other male inmates routinely in jail. That's the reference. What's an even more amusing/disturbing part of the song is: The sad sack was a sittin' on a block of stone, way over in the corner weepin' all alone. The warden said, "hey, buddy, don't you be no square. If you can't find a partner use a wooden chair."
    I would think most prisoners given the choice would prefer the company of another man in jail rather than getting it from a wooden chair. The tune is catchy, among my favorite early songs by the King. I'm much more of a fan of his brilliant work in the late 60s/early 70s.
  • Maha from Auckland, New ZealandI don't understand how the line "Number 47 said to number 3, You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see," could be a "sly reference to prison sex ". How the heck would you have sex in prison? If you could, then the Menendez brothers would have consummated their marraiges by now. I think that bit of trivia is bullsh**.
  • Rika from Alta Loma, CaIt is a brilliant song and it's my favourite!
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaIn the "Blues Brothers", Joe Walsh is the first inmate to jump up on the table and start dancing when they launched into this song.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaA true gateway rock and roll song copied by many others but it was all Elvis. What can u say? Early(mainstream) rock and roll history that opened that genre of music to the general public.
  • Amy from Dallas, TxQueen did a cover of this song on their Montreal tour
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThere's a cover of this somewhere that Rod Stuart sings on. Is it just me, or did he sing this when he ws in The Heff Beck Group. It's a hard-rock kind of cover, and if i remember some of his hard-rock songs were ones he did with the Jeff beck Group.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThe beat and Elvis's vocals are awesome!!!
  • Larry from Vancouver, WaThis is the best rock 'n roll song maybe ever. It is fast and fun. "If you can't find a partner..."
  • Sigurbjörn from KeflavÃ?k, IcelandAnd John Lewis sang this in American Idol on season two, movie theme. He was voted out after that:(
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyThere are some sources that have the line "I sure would be deligted with your company" as "I sure would be delighted with you pumpin' me" This makes the previous line even more raunchy. Look at his hand motion in the song in the film. It makes these lyrics seem very plausible.
  • Calum from Edinburgh, ScotlandShe Loves You got to number one twice as well.
  • Andy from Columbus, OhMotley Crue did a cover of this on "Girls, Girls,Girls". Would have been better if done in a studio, but it still rocks!!
  • Andrew from Brooklyn, Nywas also in the blues brothers
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