Released as the b-side to his 45, You Can’t Catch Me, today’s offering is a real stand-out Chuck Berry song for me (along with the amazing Downbound Train).
Issued on Chess Records in 1956, Havana Moon is Berry’s story of a Cuban woman missing an American woman. It came from playing Nat King Cole’s “Calypso Blues” when Berry was still slugging it out at St. Louis’ Cosmopolitan Club at a time when Latin rhythms were popular. He decided to write his own song after gigging in New York City, where he met Cubans for the first time. “It is the differences in people that I think gives me a tremendous imagination to create a story for developing a lyric,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I had read, seen or heard in some respect all the situations in the Havana story. Certainly, missing the boat and surely missing the girl had bene experienced many times by me.”
A few years back, The Rolling Stones paid tribute to the song by naming a concert film, shot in Cuba, after the song! It’s a little gem! Check it out above.