Jerry Lee Lewis – “Breathless” [Single, 1958]
He grew up playing piano with his cousin, future televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, married his 13-year old cousin (Lewis was 23 at the time; she was his third wife) and goes by the nickname “The Killer.” Jerry Lee Lewis was Rock and Roll’s first wild man. Once, very early in his career, a Nashville producer suggested Lewis switch from the piano to the guitar. Offended, Lewis reportedly replied “you can take your guitar and ram it up your ass!” “Breathless” is one of the Killer’s first singles, recorded in 1958 on the venerable Sun Records label. I love the sound of the drums and the rockabilly groove on this track.
I am interested in the origins of things, and this is a fine example of the origins of rock music. Everyone knows “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” so I wanted to post a song that, while it was a single in 1958, is relatively unknown today. It is songs like this and artists like Lewis that enabled today’s rock music – if not all of today’s popular music – to exist. We as music fans have a debt to pay to these old rock and rollers; the least we can do is give them a listen every now and again. These old songs are not lyrically or musically complex (though the Killer was/is a hell of a piano player) but in a way, that makes them more pure. Their simplicity certainly makes them easier to enjoy.
Posted by Adam