Baseball Related Songs: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” by Chuck Berry

In this episode of “Baseball Related Songs,” we pay attention to “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” performed by the father of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry.

Chuck Berry in 2000 in de Statenhal in Den Haag

The song Brown Eyed Handsome man was released in September 1956 as B-side of “Too Much Monkey Business.” Partially, the song is a lament about the racial bias and segregation in the USA before the Civil Rights Movement.  This tribute to Berry, written shortly after his passing, shows the kind of world he was dealing with during his performances. 

For example, in the first verse, the situation is described about a policeman wanting to arrest a hispanic. According to Glenn C. Alstschuler, an American writer and university-level educator and administrator, states that the lyrics of the song “played slyly with racial attitudes and even fears.

The song was covered by many artists like Buddy Holly, Nina Simone, Robert Cray, Paul McCartney and the Million Dollar Quartet that contained Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. 

But what makes this song baseball related. That’s pretty simple. Without mentioning him by name, the final verse of the song is about Jackie Robinson:

Well, two, three, the count with nobody on
He hit a high fly into the stand
Rounding third he was headed for home
It was a brown eyed handsome man
That won the game, it was a brown eyed handsome man

Likely the release in 1956 is a coincidence as Robinson retired later that year after being traded by Walter O’Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to the arch rival New York Giants. O’Malley and Robinson never could get along very well, since O’Malley loathed everything that had to do with former GM Branch Rickey, the man who signed Robinson to a contract. 

John Fogerty borrowed the part “Rounding third he was headed for home, It was a brown eyed handsome man, from this song for his song “Centerfield.”

The lyrics of “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” are as follows: 

Arrested on charges of unemployment
He was sitting in the witness stand
The judge’s wife called up the district attorney
Said, free that brown eyed man
Keep your job, you better free that brown eyed man

 

Flying across the desert in a TWA
I saw a woman walking across the sand
She been a-walkin’ thirty miles en route to Bombay
To reach a brown eyed handsome man
Her destination was a brown eyed handsome man

 

Way back in history three thousand years
Back ever since the world began
There’s been a whole lot of good women shedding tears
For a brown eyed handsome man
A lot of trouble was a brown eyed handsome man

 

Well, the beautiful daughter couldn’t make up her mind
Between a doctor and a lawyer man
Her mother told her, darling, go out and find yourself
A brown eyed handsome man
That’s what your daddy is a brown eyed handsome man

 

Well, Milo Venus was a beautiful lass
She had the world in the palm of her hand
But she lost both her arms in a wrestling match
To win a brown eyed handsome man
She fought and won herself a brown eyed handsome man

 

Well, two, three, the count with nobody on
He hit a high fly into the stand
Rounding third he was headed for home
It was a brown eyed handsome man
That won the game, it was a brown eyed handsome man


The video you’re about to see, is a live performance of Chuck Berry and Robert Cray.

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