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My New Book!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

February 13, 2024: AmericanStudying Love Songs: “Wake Up Little Susie”

[I know it might not be very 2024 of me to say, but love is in the air, and not just because it’s Valentine’s week. If you’re feeling it too, or maybe if you need a little help getting into the V-Day spirit, this week I’ll quickly highlight the AmericanStudies stories behind a handful of our great past love songs, leading to a special post on current ones that have hit my heart. Add your Valentine’s tunes in comments, please!]

The early years of rock ‘n roll featured plenty of conventional love ballads, as every form of pop culture always has and probably always will. But this new genre also included more boundary-pushing love songs that embodied its youthful and controversial elements—or that might have if we could only figure out what they were saying. Right on the border between those two tones we find The Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie” (1957), a song about a pair of innocent young lovebirds who accidentally fell asleep at the movies and now will be seen as scandalous sex fiends by family and friends—or maybe it’s about how two appropriately lustful teens gave in to nature’s call and had sex, and now have to concoct a plausible story to fit themselves back into conventional images of love. After all love songs, like love and life, have and help us connect to all those layers—and if we can sing and bop along while we do, well there’s not much better than that!

Next love song tomorrow,


PS. What do you think? Other love songs you’d AmericanStudy?

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