For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams has given us those warm and cuddly creatures, “alligator,” “crocodile,” “lizard,” “snake,” and “turtle,” as our choices. Two songs came to mind. The first was “See You Later, Alligator,” which was written by Robert Charles Guidry and made famous in 1955 when recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets. The other song that came to mind was Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” And because I’m a big Elton John fan, that’s the one I’m going with.
“Crocodile Rock” was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and was released in October 1972 in the UK and a month later in the U.S. It was a pre-release single from Elton John’s forthcoming 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, and became his first U.S. number-one single.
As Songfacts explains, the song tells the story of a guy in the ’50s and ’60s who frequented a restaurant where the patrons loved an obscure dance called the Crocodile Rock. Because of all the events that happened in the ’60s, however, this unknown little dance forever vanished into history and no one cared anymore. Even his girlfriend, who also enjoyed “burning up to the Crocodile Rock,” left him. It’s a catchy little song with really sad lyrics.
The song has a distinct ’50s musical theme. Elton said that it contained flavors of a lot of his favorite early rock songs, including “Little Darlin’,” “At The Hop,” and “Oh Carol,” as well as songs by The Beach Boys and Eddie Cochran. The title is a play on the Bill Haley song “See You Later, Alligator,” and Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” even gets a mention, as that’s what the other big hit kids were listening to while the song’s narrator was doing the Crocodile Rock.
Don McLean, who wrote and sang, “American Pie,” which came out the previous year, said that “Crocodile Rock” had a lot of similarities to his hit. Both songs were about young people in the ’50s obsessed with rock n’ roll, but disappointed when the music “died.” Both songs also feature a Chevy. Elton admits the song is highly derivative because it’s about the things he grew up with. He said, “I wanted it to be a record about all the things I grew up with. Of course it’s a rip-off.”
I remember when rock was young
Me and Suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was doing a thing called the Crocodile Rock
While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock
We were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock
Well Crocodile Rocking is something shocking
When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh Lawdy mama those Friday nights
When Suzie wore her dresses tight
And the Crocodile Rocking was out of sight
But the years went by and the rock just died
Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy
Long nights crying by the record machine
Dreaming of my Chevy and my old blue jeans
But they’ll never kill the thrills we’ve got
Burning up to the Crocodile Rock
Learning fast as the weeks went past
We really thought the Crocodile Rock would last
As a bonus: Bill Haley and His Comets with “See You Later, Alligator.”