May 04

EDDIE COCHRAN – “Three Steps To Heaven”

Popular32 comments • 3,154 views

#102, 25 June 1960

An admission – you won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t like rock and roll much. There are major exceptions (Jerry Lee!), and I’ve patiently sat and made myself appreciate a lot of it, but it doesn’t move me and never has.

It’s not that it sounds dated now, just pickled. Some of the things that make it good pop music – its spontaneity and intimacy – don’t survive the aspic of respect well. Others – its good humour and lightness – are more unexpected and welcome, since they’ve gone missing from the history books (themselves now yellowing) that paint rock and roll as a music of energy and teenage threat. There’s little harder to recapture than an energy or a shock, which is maybe why so much writing about rock keeps trying. The reverence and belief that leads people to keep fan sites and magazines for Eddie Cochran alive is something you either feel or you don’t, and I don’t. “Three Steps To Heaven” is a bright song and Cochran sells it well – it’s just that I can’t find a way in, can’t get past the thin glass case and museum hush I create around it. My compliments to those who can.



  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Jul 2007 #

    Try this:

    1. Rookie Wiltshire cop Dave Dee discovers the car wreck. He is a big fan.

    2. Seven years later we get “Zabadak,” the missing link between “Three Steps To Heaven” and “Antmusic.”

  2. 2
    Tom on 25 Jul 2007 #

    This is probably the worst ever Popular entry! Sorry Eddie.

  3. 3
    rosie on 27 Jul 2008 #

    The young Bristol taxi driver was called George Martin. You couldn’t make it up!

  4. 4
    wichita lineman on 21 Aug 2008 #

    Tom, I’d love to see you write a prologue to the entries yr unhappy with (Guy Mitchell resurrected!). Plenty of time on yr hands to do this, I’m sure…

    I love the directness and confidence of both song and delivery. The almost Spanish guitar line sets up Eddie the matador to give us “the formula for heaven”. Yet women clearly fall at his feet (see Step 2) so, while I don’t his sincerity, Eddie’s formula isn’t much use to a cauliflower-eared, bandy-legged kid from Croydon. I assume, looking back, that he DID know the formula, but why would tell all and let other kids cut in on his action?

  5. 5
    DJ Punctum on 21 Aug 2008 #

    No, it was how Tom felt at the time – which is one of the central premises of Popular – and should stand without apology.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 21 Aug 2008 #

    When Tom DOES apologise, as he does on this entry, it would be nice to get a postscript. I’m not suggesting he writes the initial post. The question was for Tom, really! But I appreciate your concern for Popular’s interity, DJP.

  7. 7
    Tom on 21 Aug 2008 #

    Marks won’t be changed ever, and reviews only changed for typos or gross factual innaccuracy.

    In general though my getting it wrong falls into two different categories. First I might change my mind about a record’s quality – Guy Mitchell being the most obvious example here. Second, as here, is when I have written an entry that isn’t up to snuff* about a record that deserves better (even if the mark wouldn’t change) – I feel worse about these because if I’d tackled it on another day I’d have done a better job.

    Both of these are worth acknowledging in the comments, but I might do a self-indulgent little piece sometime on the marks I got wrong-est: this won’t be until Popular ‘ends’, though.

    *by my standards!

  8. 8
    Pete on 21 Aug 2008 #

    I always found the lyrics of Three Steps To Heaven quite comforting as from a very young age I had achieved all of the three steps. Only later in life was i told that the love between a mother and son is not what he is on about.

    WL spanish guitar ref is spot on, I remember having the tabs for this on a teach yourself to play guitar badly book and doing that multifinger stretch strum to make the song sound more professional. Its an odd shuffle though in the song, staring to hit the kind of relaxed tempo of a lot of the more sanitised Rock’n;roll of the period and it seems quite hard to dance to*. But Eddie’s voice makes the difference, he sounds like he’s been around the block. Probably got advice from his Congressman.

    *This, I know is a catch all statement which is probably false and usually means
    a) I have never danced to it
    b) while sitting here at work, I am not sure how I would go about dancing to it

  9. 9
    wichita lineman on 21 Aug 2008 #

    I meant to say “re-writes the initial post” as you probably guessed. And “integrity”, not interity. Not feeling too bright today…

    Look forward to reading Tom’s self-indulgent little piece in 5 or 6 years!

  10. 10
    Tom on 21 Aug 2008 #

    A lot of the 50s and early 60s stuff bears re-examining in the comments section anyway – this is where the contributions of people like Rosie, who were there (or more there than most of us!) and experts like Wichita L have been really useful.

    Re-reading the early Popular entries is a bit odd now, because I knew so little about the subject and the structure of the project – how does this sound NOW – wasn’t really leading me towards finding stuff out. These days I do a little background check first and then concentrate on the Now, with mention of my personal history with a song where I think it fits. But I’m also aware that the comments crew will fill in a huge wealth of context, as well as giving their own opinions, so I feel a bit less exposed not knowing as much about the records.

  11. 11
    mike on 21 Aug 2008 #

    As a Seventies pop kid, it was Showaddywaddy (firstly), The Flying Lizards (secondly) and Sid Vicious (thirdly) who got me into Eddie Cochran, and he remains one of my favourite rock & roll artists. I like the zinginess, the perkiness, and the lightness of touch that he applies to those crunchy, hooky riffs.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 21 Aug 2008 #

    Eddie Cochran, way cool but approachable, someone who could be mentor and/or drinking buddy, is maybe the closest real life rocker to the Fonz.

  13. 13
    Pete on 21 Aug 2008 #

    He has a good sense of humour and a approachability which Three Steps To Heaven does not showcase as well as Summertime Blues. I was always really impressed that when confronted with the unsurmountable problems he faced in that song, he considered the UN and his congressmen as way to get satisfaction.

    Of course a modern day version would appeal to the European Court OF Human Rights and he’d probably win [/Daily Mail]

  14. 14
    Mark G on 22 Aug 2008 #

    For anyone who loves “C’mon Everybody”, you really should hear “Let’s get together”, it’s a parallell universe situation!

  15. 15
    DJ Punctum on 22 Aug 2008 #

    If you mean the Hayley Mills one then I think the term “ripoff” rather than “parallel universe” springs to mind.

  16. 16
    Mark G on 22 Aug 2008 #

    Ha, no it isn’t.

    Imagine the song ‘C’mon everybody’ but he sings “Let’s get together” instead, everywhere except for the first line.

  17. 17
    DJ Punctum on 22 Aug 2008 #

    Strangely when I was growing up in Scotland the most popular Eddie Cochran song on the radio was the entirely atypical “Precious Memories.”

  18. 18
    Mark G on 22 Aug 2008 #

    Of course, also best known (?sense?) for “Twenty Flight Rock” off the film “The Girl Can’t Help It”…

    Possibly the best of the hollywood ‘rock&roll’ films, an old fashioned comedy with all that rock and roll in it which seems to not exactly fit in as such, a bit like having “The Good Old Days” with Leonard Sachs introducing The Clash, Sex Pistols and Johnny Rubbish…

    Still it’s one of the only ones of that kind that gets any kind of TV viewing thesedays.

  19. 19
    Erithian on 22 Aug 2008 #

    And wasn’t it knowing how to play “Twenty Flight Rock” that earned little 15-year-old Paul McCartney some cool points with that older lad he met at the church fete?

  20. 20
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2009 #

    Light Entertainment watch; None of Eddie’s UK TV appearances appear to have survived;

    BOY MEETS GIRLS: with Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury (1960)

    BOY MEETS GIRLS: with Eddie Cochran, Johnny Gentle (1960)

    BOY MEETS GIRLS: with Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury (1960)

    BOY MEETS GIRLS: with Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Adam Faith, Jess Conrad (1960)

  21. 21
    Paulito on 28 Mar 2010 #

    Whoops, double post

  22. 22
    Paulito on 28 Mar 2010 #

    The main point I’d make in response to Tom’s review is that, yes, “Three Steps to Heaven” lacks excitement and spontaneity – but that’s because it isn’t true rock’n’roll at all, let alone a particularly good example thereof. Although Cochran manages to give at least some edge to this rather trite confection, it’s closer to the lightweight, harmless teenpop that predominated in the early 1960s and was clearly recorded in the hope of returning him to the charts now that his grittier, simpler style was falling out of vogue. Hence, as far as I’m concerned, this song really doesn’t represent Eddie or what made him great. Tom, I wonder do you feel similarly unmoved by “Twenty Flight Rock, “Cut Across Shorty” or “C’mon Everybody”?

  23. 23
    Tom on 28 Mar 2010 #

    Guilty as charged Paulito – there was an old, now-lost, haloscan comment pointing out precisely that. I like rock’n’roll SO much more now than I did in 2003, incidentally: something Popular is almost certainly to credit for.

  24. 24
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Nov 2013 #

    Those guitar stabs at the start sound very Queen Bitch. It’s been a winning formula for many, as, say, the Killers would tell you..

  25. 25
    Mark G on 1 Nov 2013 #

    “Singin’ I Love Rock And Roll
    SoMuchMore than I did in 2003 baybeh..”

  26. 26
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Nov 2013 #

    I blame the Darkness.

  27. 27
    Lazarus on 2 Nov 2013 #

    Does anyone remember what this song was used to advertise in the 70s? It’s been bugging me.

  28. 28
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Nov 2013 #

    #27 – It was probably something like pot noodle. Unpeel the top, pour boiling water on it and stir the fucker. Three steps to…heaven?! Hell, no!

  29. 29
    Lazarus on 2 Nov 2013 #

    You forgot the little sachet! Yes, it was probably some easy-to-prepare foodstuff. I’ve got an idea it was a dessert though, Angel Delight or Instant Whip, perhaps.

    I found an 18 months out of date Pot Noodle in my cupboard recently and decided to risk it. No ill effects suffered.

  30. 30
    lonepilgrim on 27 Jun 2014 #

    I like the space and sprightliness of this tune and Eddie sells the corny advice with an amiable sincerity. It’s not his best but it’s pleasant enough.
    I heard a bloke describe a near death experience during which he claimed to have reached Heaven. He was very insistent that there were in fact only two steps to Heaven.

  31. 31
    chrisew71 on 28 Mar 2018 #

    He had some great songs, but when you dive deeper into Cochran’s output or listen to interviews, you’re left with the impression that he’s an affable guy who would have been making country music had he lived, like Johnny Burnette.

  32. 32
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    I think this one is relatively good fun, so a 6/10 from me.

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