Stray Cats Lyrics

Formed Long Island, New York, 1979; disbanded, 1984;
reformed several times since.
If Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Carl Perkins engaged in
a drunken mènage à trois and produced a musical offspring,
the Stray Cats would be it. Formed in Long Island, New York
during the late 70s, the band consisted of three high
school friends. With Brian Setzer on guitar, Slim Jim
Phantom (born James McDonnell) on drums and Lee Rocker
(born Lee Drucher) on standup bass, the Stray Cats plowed
some of the same fertile ground as their influences. The More...

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Review about Stray Cats songs
Cultural space, time and Zeitgeist of Flying Saucers Rock-n-Roll | Reviewer: colm connolly
    ------ About the song Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll performed by Stray Cats

First of all, mainstream or mass newsmedia today have taken up what at first appears to be mere rock-n-roll slang words as if invented by them and spread world-wide by global media outlets: "Rock" and "bop" in verse 3; "crazy" and "hip" ("hep") in verse 2; "beat" in the middle or chorus; and "cats" in verse 1.

In fact in the Truman-Eisenhower years in America the subjects of flying saucers and rock-n-roll were in the mindset or Zeitgeist of the ordinary adult general public. So much so that President Truman in an interview filmed for general adult public consumption commented to newspaper reporters on July 12, 1952 about "The News" newspaper headline (obviously) AIR FORCE AFTER D.C. SAUCERS! He (President Truman said "[We] discussed it at every conference we had with the military...flying saucers...things like that going on..."

The thing is that mainstream mass media's output message today that they, the newspapers, have been introducing flying saucer/UFO reports to teenage rock-n-rollers since the 1950s and much to the denial of the then Presidents is wrong and misleading. Aug 24, 2008 - Uploaded by Paranormalcentral

So clearly this is the actual instance that "Flying Saucers Rock and Roll" is referring to. And any mainstream newsmedia suggestion that it was based on a cultural expression of teenage rock-n-roll society of the 1950s and all as supposedly provided by mainstream newsmedia for such 1950s rock-n-roll culture teenagers is
not what happened.

Compare the above mainstream newsmedia's reaction to US President Bill Clintion's mention of the Roswell flying saucer at Belfast City Hall on November 30, 1995.

So - "cats" comes from "cool cats". An old New Orleans jazz expression. The well to-do clubs were nice and cool. The poorer clubs were hot and sticky. Hence "cool jazz" and "hot jazz". "Cats" were frequenters of the places so you can see what a "cool cat" is.

"Crazy beat". Think of a marching song. This goes One-two, One-two. Rock-n-roll goes like if in medium march timing you tap your foot "one" and tap your hand on your knee "Two". That is: one-Two, one-Two with the heavy beat on the knee "Two" (on the march the beat is heavy on "One"). Rock-n-roll is a crazy back-to- front beat. "Backbeat" or "offbeat". "Off beat" movies. Okay? "The crazy beat just stopped me dead."

"Hip" or originally "hep" is not really known but seems to suggest an ability for coccyx movement (tailbone). You are welcome to a better guess. But "hep cat" is obvious from above.

"Crazy flats" means like playing the white notes on the piano c-d-e-f-g-a-b-c or doh-re-me-fa-soh-la-te-doh. Rock-n-roll on the piano or Jerry Lee Lewis style uses black e-flat note and black b-flat note, or "flat" 3 (bluenote) and "flat" 7. The "a" note or la or 6 note is used more in jazz than rock-n-roll.

A saxophone is an excellent "flat" note instrument. Hence Bill Haley etc.

Round about the time Billy Lee Riley made Flying Saucers Rock and Roll in 1957
the Russians launched the first Earth satellite, Sputnik 1. Of course everybody was fascinated by this (even though the Russians were the enemy in the Cold War) and including heaps of teenagers of Western culture and in America.

However, young people in their teens in the 1950s so born just before America went into WW2 (the US first entered Europe via Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 26, 1942- which is how I sort of know this stuff) were then known as the Shook Up generation. Elvis Presley even sings that he loves his girl so much he is like as if "All Shook Up". Basically what happened was that the mainstream newsmedia of the day began accusing the Shook Up kids many in their teens, as products of their offbeat lifestyle. But it was because of the War (WW2). I was messed around by the War (WW2) and never got over it either and it had nothing to do with any offbeat lifestyle.

In any event because of the new Russian satellite Sputnik 1 up in space now in the news, flying saucer stuff ongoing since 1952 began frequently to be proposed in the media by more than one expert as the sighting of a "satellite" or make that a Russian Sputnik.

You can see though that the old ones would immediately believe it was a Russian sputnik hovering behind their hedges or clothes lines. Actually because of all this our old ones also thought Roy Orbison was Roy Orbitson. Media misinformation and disinformation. I gave up trying to explain to them that it was Roy Orbison and anyway he was American and not Russian and this whole sorry affair was never going to block out the light of the sun.

What happened next was that because the Shook Up young ones (accused by main-stream newsmedia as guilty by way of their supposed offbeat lifestyles) had an interest in the Russian Sputnik (October 1957) the media vilified these young ones as a hybrid of "beat" from "offbeat" (the rock-n-roll beat) and of "nik" from "Sputnik" the Russian satellite. Thus to get "beatniks".

So finally this is to show (hopefully) that "Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll" is a parody of
of the media circus above.

A slightly different turn here that might help to clear the picture also. When university students ( I'm just working class from the back streets of Belfast myself and dropped out of academia after high school) took up anti-nuclear demonstra-tions in the 1950s, mainstream newsmedia labelled these "beatniks" also. As a slur on them as if they were like working class backstreet low life.

A number of versions of Flying Saucers Rock and Roll differ generically. Here's the one I actually used from the Billy Lee Riley version in 1957:

Well the news of the saucer
been flyin' around.
I don't know what!
I seen it over the ground.
First thing I see
when I saw it land
Cats jumped out
and they started a band

Flying saucer rock-n-roll
Flying saucer rock-n-roll
Couldn't understand a thing they said
But the crazy beat just stopped me dead

Well the little green men
they were real hep cats
Rockin' and a-rollin'
to the crazy flats
Brought out a sax
and they started to blow
Brought out the drums
and they started to roll

-Flying saucers etc. -

Well I clumb outta hidin'
and I started to rock
The little green men
taught me how to do the bop
They were three foot high
hit a few bars
Started rock and rollin'
all the way from Mars.

"Mars" is the colour "red" like the Russians in the USSR were "Red".

A further consideration is that "Back in the USSR" from the Beatles White album (we said it White LP) could have been themed from the "Flying Saucers Rock and Roll"
parody of the media circus's clowning news reports techniques.

Colm Connolly

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