Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: When I hear "Matchbox," either Carl Perkins' 1956 original, or the Beatles 1964 version, I face a little musical mystery. Mine is not too dissimilar to others I've seen you solve, so hopefully you will take my case. As you know, one of the lines in "Matchbox" is "I'm sittin' here wonderin' would a matchbox hold my clothes."

Well, a couple of years before the Beatles released "Matchbox," a soul singer, currently unkown to me, made a song with this very similar lyric: "I'm standing here wondering, would a matchbox hold my clothes."

What is this song, and who is the singer?
—Gloria Esperanza, Asbury Park, N.J.

DEAR GLORIA: Your matchbox mystery tune is "Somebody Have Mercy," the B-side of "Nothing Can Change This Love," both written and recorded in 1962 by Sam Cooke (RCA Victor 47-8088).

Both sides reached the Top 3 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart.

DEAR JERRY: On my 1970s Eric (#227) single of "Maybellene," by Chuck Berry, I noticed the writers credited are Chuck Berry and dee jay Alan Freed, along with someone named Russ Fratto. I have always heard that Chuck wrote his songs alone, so how do these others figure into the deal?
—Ron Booth, Medford, Ore.

DEAR RON: They were in the deal for the figures — the royalty figures that is. Chuck did indeed write the tune by himself, but when the record came out with the additional names credited as writers, he was quite surprised.

He then learned the devilish ways of the record business, as his royalty payments were for only one-third of the take. Influential New York dee jay Alan Freed got a third for playing the record — your payola dollars at work — and Russ Fratto had some business connection with the owners of Chess Records, Chuck's label at the time, and Fratto likely had been owed a favor.

I have been told that some original 1955 Chess singles had all three of these credits, but every Chess copy I've seen credits only Chuck Berry.

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