Saturday, January 2, 2010

ROCK Sex: "I Fought the Law and I Won!" - The Crickets > Bobby Fuller > The Clash > Metric

ROCK Sex joins in fighting the power.


Today's musical relay is all about the pinball journey of "I Fought the Law".

It was triggered by Buddy Holly, with his zigzag guitar rhythms and galloping delivery, as heard in songs like this one.

BUDDY HOLLY -"Rave On" (1958)

In the wake of Buddy's tragic death, his band The Crickets carried on the legacy with this very Holly-esque raver, the original verison of "I Fought the Law". It was written by member Sonny Curtis, who also wrote perennials like "Walk Right Back" (Everly Brothers, Anne Murray), "More Than I Can Say" (Leo Sayer), and "Love Is All Around" (The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme, Bob Mould, Joan Jett):

THE CRICKETS -"I Fought the Law" (1959)

But it was The Bobby Fuller Four who made it a smash hit. Tragically, Bobby Fuller died soon after in strange circumstances. While many people believe it was a murder, the legal verdict that it was a suicide despite clearly botched evidence lent a deeper resonance to the lyrics of the song.

BOBBY FULLER FOUR -"I Fought the Law" (1965)

Soon after, the all-female rockers THE SHE TRINITY put another slant on it.

THE SHE TRINITY -"He Fought the Law" (1966)

For many people the definitive version is by The Clash. They were recording their second album in San Francisco when they heard Fuller's single on a local jukebox. In some ways this song sums up their whole rebel stance and puckish humor more than their own.

THE CLASH -"I Fought the Law" (1978)

Meanwhile the San Francisco Punks DEAD KENNEDYS had their own take on it, recorded in the wake of the brutal murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Singer Jello Biafra defiantly changes the chorus to "I fought the law and I won!":

DEAD KENNEDYS -"I Fought the Law" (1978)

Because of The Clash many current punk bands like Green Day have covered it.

But Canada's Metric brought another new dimension to it. In the wake of the massive public outcry and bitter frustration against Bush's engineering of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they summed it up with "I fought the war but the war won't stop, for the love of god/ I fought the war but the war won."

They also allude to the symbolic death of Bobby Fuller: "Daddy Warbucks up against Bobby Fuller/ and it beat him hands down..."

METRIC -"Monster Hospital" (2005)

Bite the hand that beats you!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

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