Chuck Berry: 20 Essential Songs

"Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven" and other masterpieces that laid the groundwork for rock & roll as we know it

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"Too Much Monkey Business" (1956)

Berry wasn't just too cool for school, he was above just about everything, as he wrote in the lyrics to "Too Much Monkey Business." In his mind, everything was a hassle – work, shopping, dating, school, war, work again – and he laid each nuisance out smartly in concise proto-raps before kicking into the song's memorable chorus. "I realized I needed over a hundred verses to portray the major areas that bug people the most," he wrote in his autobiography. "I was even making up words then like 'botheration' to emphasize the nuisances that bothered people. … I hadn't received any kickback about using 'motorvating' in 'Maybellene,' so why not compete with Noah Webster again?" His lexicon lived on in covers by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Hollies and the Yardbirds, among others.

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