Trevor Stone (flwyd) wrote,
Trevor Stone

When Ma Bell was a Search Engine

I realized today that the entire premise of one of the greatest Rock & Roll songs in history has been obsoleted by the 21st Century.
Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
Because my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall
The geography is also a little questionable these days.
Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She's the only one who'd phone me here from Memphis, Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge
There are a couple small residential areas within half a mile of the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge in south Memphis. The most likely candidate is around Esplanade Pl and Riverside Blvd, which Google Maps shows as being next to some relief, though I wouldn't call it a ridge. Maybe Marie's house got torn down for an industrial facility in the last sixty years.

I did, however, finally realize what the relationship between Marie and the singer is.
Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee

Last time I saw Marie she's waving me goodbye
With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
Marie is only six years old, information please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis Tennessee
Given Chuck Berry's reputation for interest in teenage girls (he was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old after transporting her across state lines, though he appealed claiming prejudice), I'd always assumed that Marie was a love interest, but 6-years-old seemed disconcertingly wrong. But the song makes way more sense if the singer had a relationship with Marie's mother and developed a fondness for her daughter (either as the father or as the boyfriend of a single mother), but then got kicked out by the mother.

Here's a relaxed 1972 performance with Chuck Berry wearing a fabulous shirt.

This entry was originally posted at – comment over there.

Tags: geography, lyric, music, pedantry, phone

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