Sunday, October 14, 2007

50 years ago: The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie” hit #1

Wake Up Little Susie

The Everly Brothers

Writer(s): Boudleaux Bryant, Felice Bryant (see lyrics here)

Released: September 2, 1957

First Charted: September 16, 1957

Peak: 14 US, 11 BS, 14 DJ, 2 HP, 12 CB, 15 HR, 18 CW, 11 RB, 2 UK, 13 CN, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 8.6 video, 65.61 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant met and married in 1945. They struggled financially, writing more than 80 songs while living in a mobile home. In 1948, they wrote the top-ten hit “Country Boy” for Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1950, they moved to Nashville as full-time songwriters.

They got their real break in 1957 when they wrote “Bye Bye Love” for the Everly Brothers. The brothers Don and Phil were born in 1937 and 1939 respectively. The family moved to Tennessee in 1953 and after Phil graduated in 1957, the pair started a recording career. “Bye Bye Love” was their first chart single, reaching #2 on the U.S. pop charts and going gold. The follow-up, “Wake Up Little Susie,” was another song written by the Bryants and did even better – topping the pop, country, and R&B charts.

Boudleaux said he wrote “Wake Up Little Susie” “to pick up on the thrilling acoustic guitar strum that opens ‘Bye Bye Love,’ which it does in spades.” DM The song was written from the point of view of a high school boy and his girlfriend Susie on a date. It revealed “the perils of going to see a very long, very dull movie when you should be home in bed.” DT It spun “a tall tale about a couple who go to a drive-in and…fall asleep until 3:00 A.M.?” DM

Radio stations suspecting more had happened than what the lyrics reveal banned the song. Boudleaux said, “It was amazing to us that anybody saw anything pornographic in it.” SJ His wife Felice said, “That goes to show you how well people listen.” SJ The boy in the song actually fears friends and families will assume the couple had sex – as many listeners wrongly did – and that they will lose their good reputations. WK

In 1982, Simon & Garfunkel’s live version of the song from their 1979 Central Park reunion reached #27.


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First posted 8/6/2023.

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