August 22, 2011
Jerry Leiber wrote the hits
Jerry Leiber (right), the lyricist of the famed songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller, died today at age 78. Leiber and Stoller wrote loads of the great R&B songs recorded in the 1950's and '60's, and you could argue that they were responsible for rhythm and blues crossing over from black performers and audiences to Elvis, white audiences, and everybody in the world.
I love lots of songs by Leiber and Stoller, but my favorite might be The Coasters' "Down in Mexico", which is featured in a great scene from Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof", the second half of the undervalued Grindhouse.
Here's the whole 7 minute scene, featuring a dazzlingly menacing Kurt Russell, which leads up to the greatest lap dance ever performed in flip-flops, by Vanessa Ferlito. "Down in Mexico" and the accompanying dance start at 4:25 if you want to skip ahead.
A few other Leiber and Stoller favorites: The Exciters' irrepressible "Tell Him", Big Mama Thornton's original 1952 version of "Hound Dog", Elvis's pep talk for nerdy girls everywhere "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care", and the Coasters' tremendously fun "Youngblood".
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