In July 1956 Carl Perkins was on the singles chart with his debut UK hit Blue Suede Shoes.
There are differing accounts about the origin of the song. In his second autobiography Cash: The Autobiography, Johnny Cash recalled planting the seed for the song in the fall of 1955, while Perkins, Cash, Elvis Presley and other Louisiana Hayride acts toured throughout the South. Cash told Perkins of a black airman, C. V. White, whom he had met when serving in the military in Germany, who had referred to his military regulation airmen’s shoes as “blue suede shoes”, and insisted that no one step on or scuff them. Cash suggested that Perkins write a song about the shoes. Perkins replied, “I don’t know anything about shoes. How can I write a song about shoes?”
In another version, Perkins played a dance on December 4, 1955, and noticed a couple dancing near the stage. Between songs, he heard the boy scold his partner, “Uh-uh, don’t step on my suedes!” Looking down, he saw that the boy was wearing blue suede shoes and one had a scuff mark. Perkins was amused to see that the boy cared more about his shoes than the pretty girl he was with, and began working on a song about the incident that night.
In either case, Perkins decided to use a nursery rhyme for the basis of the song, settling on One For The Money. Working with his Les Paul guitar, he started with an A chord and improvised some lyrics:
“Well, it’s one for the money … Two for the show … Three to get ready … Now go, man, go!”
Satisfied, he scribbled the song onto some scrap paper, spelling the title as “Blue Swade” in his haste. According to Perkins, “On December 17, 1955, I wrote ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. I recorded it on December 19”, for Sun Records. Sun’s producer, Sam Phillips, convinced Perkins to change the lyric from, “go, boy, go” in the first take of the song to, “go, cat, go” in the second, which became the release version.
And so was born one of the greatest of all Rock & Roll records, which you can hear, along with many other top songs, on our dedicated radio station.
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