Two Jewish boys: Leiber and Stoller


Cruising (or coasting) down the  401 I kept breaking into laughter at he lyrics on a disk I cut for “my listening pleasure.”

They were all songs written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, 2 Jewish boys from Baltimore and Long island respectively. They met in LA in 1950 and really never had to work again by 1965. They cranked out hit after hit. Even penned 2 classics by Peggy Lee I’m a Woman and the sardonic Is That All There Is?(1969). Elvis cut Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog by the pair.


It was their hilarious work with the seminal rock group the Robins who became the Coasters which made them famous—and still keep me roaring. Billy Guy, Cornell Gunther and Carl Gardner had the vocal goods to pull off these outrageous songs.

Think Searhcin’, Young Blood (a 2 sided hit) Along Came Jones, Poison Ivy, Charley Brown and many others. They had an incredible ear for black slang and the lifestyle in the black demimonde. And they were certainly criticized for it later when people woke up to the fact that their songs were less than flattering to the black community.

Listen to this Coaster classic  Shoppin’ for Clothes—just covered by the great jazz singer Kurt Elling.It will give you a hint about the wit in their music.



1 Comment »

  1. 1
    wmgrace Says:

    Great wit but also prescient…Today, shopping for clothes is after all, the pre-eminent addiction (even in Toronto its much more popular than smoking crack cocaine) of North America. People who read your posts/books have learned that humour is absolutely essential in dealing with all this.

    Speaking of records/LPs/cds what are your recommendations as far as worthwhile movies/dvds go? How about a list of say ten or so? Any year, any genre just all-time favourites? I’m sure a lot of people would be interested.

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