"Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" is a 1974 song by an ad hoc group of studio musicians called Reunion, with Joey Levine (bubblegum music pioneer with "Chewy Chewy" and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" to his credit) as the lead singer. The song was written by Paul DiFranco (music) and Norman Dolph (lyrics). The lyrics are a fast patter of 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s disc jockeys, musicians, songwriters, record labels, song titles and lyrics, broken only by the chorus.
Given the various musical icons on the laundry list, the Jack the Ripper mention may be a reference to Link Wray. His 1961 instrumental called "Jack the Ripper" was also covered by The Raybeats, who made a music video to go with it.
The harmony used during the latter part of the record is based on the tune of "Baby I Need Your Loving" by The Four Tops.
It peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and reached No. 33 in the UK Singles Chart. The track was later covered by Tracey Ullman in 1984, and was featured in her album, You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.
This song was remade by Randy Crenshaw and released on 2001 Disney album Mickey's Dance Party under the name "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me...Again!)" The remake includes references not just to current and past music groups, but also to TV shows and internet slang, and some Disney characters.
A "customized" version of the song, "Life is a Rock, but 'CFL Rolled Me" was the last rock and roll song played on the Larry Lujack show on WCFL in Chicago on 15 March 1976, before the station switched from Top 40 to beautiful music format. Rival AM station WLS had their own version ("Life Is a Rock, WLS Rolled Me"). This latter version is still played from time to time on WLS-FM, now airing an oldies format. In 1974, radio station KFRC in San Francisco also aired a "customized" version of the song, titled "Life Is a Rock (But KFRC Rolled Me)," with an extra verse naming all of the station's personalities at the time. The verse was sung by KFRC's afternoon personality, Chuck Buell.
In 1988 McDonald's produced a jingle heavily influenced by the song for its "$1,000,000 Menu Song" promotion. The McDonald's recording, with an identical melody and a rapidly-spoken list of menu offerings recited in an identical monotone pitch and rhythm, was released as a mass giveaway in the form of a 33-1/3 RPM flexible plastic single.
B. Bumble and the Stingers,
Mott the Hoople,
Ray Charles Singers,
"Here's my ring, we're going steady",
"Take It Easy",
"I Want to Take You Higher,
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction",
"Rama Lama Ding Dong",
"Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop",
Fats Is Back,
"Finger Poppin' Time",
Brenda & the Tabulations,
Rolling Stone Magazine,
Peter, Paul and Mary,
Jack the Ripper,
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles,
Screamin' Jay Hawkins,
Kukla, Fran and Ollie,
J. J. Cale,
Ides of March,
"Help Me Rhonda",
"Yummy Yummy Yummy",
Warner Bros. Records,
"Remember (Walking in the Sand)",
Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots,
Murray the K,
"The Boston Monkey",
The 45-rpm single version fades out here. The extended album version continues, with the following references:
B. B. King,
Laurel and Hardy,
New York City,
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy",
Performed as medley or spoken over the fade-out:
"Baby I Need Your Loving" by The Four Tops,
"Uptight (Everything's Alright)" by Stevie Wonder,
"Celebrate" by Three Dog Night,
"I Want to Take You Higher" by Sly & the Family Stone