Eddie Cochran's 10 greatest songs, ranked

6 July 2022, 10:53

By Mayer Nissim

Eddie Cochran only had a short career before his tragic death, but changed music forever.

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Eddie Cochran may not have had quite as many hits as Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, but he was still a vital rock 'n' roll pioneer.

His influence can't be overstated. He's been covered by everyone from The Beach Boys and The Who to the Sex Pistols, and 20th-century rock would have been very different.

More than that, he was an incredibly talented and charismatic performer and songwriter in his own right.

He died tragically young, aged just 21 when the 1960s had barely begun, but in his short career he left behind a string of classic songs.

Not sure where to begin, or just looking to enjoy Eddie Cochran's finest moments? Then we've got you covered with his ten very greatest songs.

  1. Cut Across Shorty

    The last song ever recorded by Eddie Cochran, this up-tempo rockabilly classic was written by Marijohn Wilkin and Wayne P. Walker and released on the B-side of 'Three Steps to Heaven'.

    A swanky city boy and country fella Shorty are vying for a girl's love and for some reason are.... racing for her affections. She wants our country boy to win so helps him cheat his way to victory.

    One of the many late-era Cochran tracks to feature Buddy Holly's Crickets (Sonny Curtis on guitar and Jerry Allison on drums), as well as Conrad 'Guybo' Smith on electric bass.

  2. Hallelujah, I Love Her So

    Eddie was a fantastic songwriter (and co-writer), but he could also put his own spin on existing hits.

    'Hallelujah, I Love Her So' was originally written and released by Ray Charles in 1956, and has been covered by countless artists, including The Beatles, Peggy Lee, Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Eva Cassidy and even Hugh Laurie, among many others.

    Released in November 1959, Eddie's version got to number 22 in the UK charts, where he had much of his success.

  3. Teenage Heaven

    One of Eddie's many hits he wrote himself with his manager Jerry Capeheart, 'Teenage Heaven' scraped into the Billboard Hot 100 at 99.

    It also featured in Alan Freed vehicle Go, Johnny, Go! one of a string of rock 'n' roll ensemble movies that lit up the end of the 1950s.

    The lyrics are the ultimate teenage daydream: "I want a house with a pool / Shorter hours in school / And a room with my own private phone."

  4. Nervous Breakdown

    The only song on our list that wasn't a single for Eddie, it's such a rock 'n' roll classic that we think it should have been.

    "I'm a havin' a nervous breakdown / A mental shakedown / I see my hands how they shiver / See my knees how they quiver"

    Written by Eddie, it was included on his second posthumous album Never To Be Forgotten in 1962.

    A cover by Wanda Jackson (produced by The White Stripes' Jack White) was released on her 2011 album The Party Ain't Over.

  5. Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie

    Written by George Motola and Rickie Page, the song was apparently given a gender flip before Eddie got to record it, having originally been planned as 'Johnny, Johnny, Johnny' for The Georgettes, who didn't get round to recording it.

    Eddie's version only got to 94 in the US charts during his lifetime. Released after his death in the UK, it went all the way to 31 and has since become one of his best-known songs.

    It features the pioneering Earl Palmer on drums, and was later covered (with sexed-up lyrics) by The Stray Cats for their album Built For Speed.

  6. Twenty Flight Rock

    Another rockabilly classic from Eddie, the first time people heard 'Twenty Flight Rock' was on the 1956 rock 'n' roll comedy The Girl Can't Help It.

    It came out as a single the following year and while it never charted, it slowly picked up sales and momentum to be recognised as an Eddie Cochran classic.

    It tells the story of a guy with a girlfriend on the 20th floor, and the lifts are out, and when Eddie gets to the top, he's "too tired to rock". Ahem.

  7. Three Steps To Heaven

    Even clutching an acoustic guitar, Eddie Cochran could knock out riffs that would help lay the blueprint of rock for decades ahead.

    You can hear 'Three Steps to Heaven' in David Bowie's 'Queen Bitch' and The Ramones 'Suzy is a Headbanger'.

    Recorded in 1960, it was another of the late-era Eddie tracks with Crickets Sonny Curtis on guitar and Jerry Allison on drums.

    Released a month before he died in the US, it failed to trouble the charts there. Released a month after he died here, it went all the way to number one.

  8. Somethin’ Else

    Written by Eddie with his girlfriend Sharon Sheeley and older brother Bob, 'Somethin' Else' is one of a trio of all-timers that we had trouble splitting at the top of this ranking.

    It's an aspirational song. A guy can't afford a hot convertible and is too shy to go after an even hotter girl. But he works hard and buys a good-enough second hand model ("Just a forty-one Ford, not a fifty-nine") and hey, he's good enough for the girl of his dreams.

    It only reached number 58 in the US, but over here we took it all the way to number 22.

    Punk rock before punk rock, 'Somethin' Else' went on to be covered by the post-Johnny Rotten Sex Pistols for the riotous The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle soundtrack, with bassist Sid Vicious taking lead singing duties.

  9. C’mon Everybody

    Another punky song from Eddie, and another that was covered by the Sid Vicious-fronted Sex Pistols, and again you can hear why.

    A powerhouse rock 'n' roll stomper, by Eddie and Jerry Capeheart, it tells the tale of a boy who's been working oh-so hard, and has a party planned because his parents are away and hell, he's more than earned it.

    He's gonna dance the night away with a girl or four, and Eddie just knows there'll be trouble (despite the bouncer he's put on the door) and he knows he'll be grounded, but who cares.

    Eddie recorded an otherwise-identical alt version where he swapped "C'mon Everybody" for "Let's get together!". It's only a teeny-tiny change, but the proper version is loads better.

  10. Summertime Blues

    Maybe the archetypical rock 'n' roll song?

    A young lad hits the holidays and only wants to drive and be with his girl. Instead, his parents make him get a job, his boss makes him work late and no-one gives a damn about his woes.

    Just like 'Cmon Everybody', 'Summertime Blues' was initially a B-side, on the flip of 'Love Again' written by Cochran's girlfriend Sharon Sheeley, but everyone quickly saw sense there.

    Recorded at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood, California, that's Eddie doing the main vocal and those deep, booming backing vocals too.

    It got to number 8 in the US, number 18 in the UK, and has been memorably covered by The Beach Boys, T-Rex, Johnny Hallyday, Rush and many others, with The Who's storming version being a highlight of their classic Live At Leeds album.