Why Jailhouse Rock is Gay

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

[Picture of jailhouse rock cover]ELVIS made it a hit. It’s been covered by the Blues Brothers and many others. But Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller’s “Jailhouse Rock” is a very strange song indeed. It is all about homosexuality in prisons. There can be no question of that.

You see, it is set in a male prison. That’s right — a “Jailhouse”. There is only one gender — male. Jails tend to be set up like that, men with men, women with women.

Now, it seems that the authorities decided to throw a “party” for the inmates…

“The warden threw a party in the county jail..”

Soon “The joint was jumping and the place began to swing” — “swing”? really?

Yes, it seems the offenders were dancing with each other —

“Everybody on the whole cell block was dancing to the jailhouse rock”.

However, not everybody was dancing after all –Sad sack wasn’t…

“Sad Sack was sittin’ on a block of stone
Way over in the corner weepin’ all alone
The warden said Hey buddy don’t you be no square
If you can’t find a partner use a wooden chair”

We can only conclude that Sad Sack took the warden’s advice and either found a “partner” (another man), or else used a chair!

I have no idea what was intended by “The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang”, but I think it is pretty clear what was going on from this verse:

“Well number 47 said to number 3
You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see
I sure’ll be delighted with your company
Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me”

This is the only time I have ever heard reference of cuteness between men, let alone felons!

The fact that “Shifty Henry” and the chance to break-out and escape was foregone in favour of “Sticking around to get my kicks” is conclusive, don’t you think?

5 Responses to “Why Jailhouse Rock is Gay”

  1. Chris Says:

    The Purple Gang actually refers to a defunct Detroit group of mobsters that were quite violent. They were known for hijacking and pretty much running Detroit throughout the 1920s.

  2. Sharon Rose Black Says:

    Hee hee, what about the line, “Little Joe was blowin’ on the slide trombone!” A bit slashy there, if you ask me.

    I’m not sure whether or not Elvis had any idea, but I have a hunch that Lieber and Stroller knew what they were doing.

  3. Sean Says:

    Why are queers these days referred as gay? there are many songs still played on radio with gay in the lyrics but not meaning queer!
    i.e.: Only yesterday I was cheerful bright and gay.
    (Gilbert O’Sullivan)

  4. Kevin Fuller Says:

    I cannot listen to this song without thinking about all this gay stuff. I’m gay with a dirty mind anyway, but this is all so obvious!

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