Big Joe Turner – “Shake Rattle and Roll” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Looking for a quick hit on “Shake, Rattle and Roll”? Here it is: This classic by Big Joe Turner is a blueprint for early rock and roll, marrying blues and jazz. It’s all about the dynamic between a man and a woman in a relationship. Turner seems to be highlighting the struggles and tensions but also the sheer energy and excitement of being in love. With lines that dive into domestic life, fashion, and even a bit of the supernatural, Turner serves up a frothy cocktail of daily existence sprinkled with passion and challenge.

Curious? Read on to discover the layers hiding beneath those catchy beats.

“Shake, Rattle and Roll” Lyrics Meaning

Let’s jump in right from the first line: “Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands.” We’re thrown into domestic life, but it’s not all that simple. The song mixes everyday activities with emotional tension, echoing the dynamics of a typical relationship. It’s as if he’s saying, “Wake up, we have issues to tackle.”

“Way you wear those dresses, the sun comes shinin’ through.” Ah, romance and allure, but not without complexity. The sun shines through, but it’s not always clear if that’s entirely a good thing. The phrase “all that mess belongs to you” seems both a compliment and an accusation, encapsulating how love can be messy.

“I believe to my soul you’re the devil and now I know.” This is where the track dips its toe into the waters of the supernatural. Is the devil metaphorical? Likely so. It signifies the intoxicating but perilous nature of love. The devil here isn’t evil but dangerously alluring, creating a pull that’s difficult to resist.

The recurring line “shake, rattle and roll” isn’t just a fun phrase; it’s the embodiment of the song’s theme. The phrase indicates volatility, unpredictability, and a call to action. In the context of a relationship, it means “wake up, engage, make things happen!” Life isn’t a static thing; it shakes, rattles, and rolls, just like love.

“I’m like a one-eyed cat peepin’ in a seafood store.” A line that really stands out, huh? This imagery is rich; it speaks to the desire and frustration that often go hand in hand. Turner is like a cat that can’t resist looking but isn’t allowed to indulge.

“You make me roll my eyes, even make me grit my teeth.” A clear manifestation of the ups and downs of love. It’s not all sunsets and roses, folks. Turner acknowledges the difficulties but also implicitly suggests they’re worth it for the electric dynamism love brings.

The Story Behind “Shake, Rattle and Roll”

Big Joe Turner was deeply rooted in the blues and jazz traditions when he recorded “Shake, Rattle and Roll” in 1954. He brought the influence of these genres into the birthing room of rock and roll. At this point in his life, Turner was transitioning from a successful jazz singer to a rock and roll icon, encapsulating a cultural shift in music and society.

Turner’s state of mind? Think of it as a seasoned musician trying to capture the zeitgeist of his time—marrying old traditions with the new energies of post-war America. The song reflects this fusion, combining elements of blues, jazz, and even gospel into something that feels entirely fresh.

So, there you have it: “Shake, Rattle and Roll” is as much about the tremors of love as it is about the shake-up of musical genres and cultural norms. It’s a track that makes you dance but also makes you think—just a bit—about the complexities of love and life.