” is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for
and released on Atlantic Records in 1958, spending seven weeks as #1 on the R&B charts and a week as number one on the Top 100 pop list. This song was one of a string of singles released by The Coasters between 1957 and 1959 that dominated the charts, one of the biggest performing acts of the rock and roll era.
The song is a “playlet,” a word Stoller used for the glimpses into teenage life that characterized the songs Leiber and Stoller wrote and produced. The lyrics describe the listing of household chores to a kid, presumably a teenager, the teenager’s response (“yakety yak”) and the parents’ retort (“don’t talk back”) — an experience very familiar to a middle-class teenager of the day. Leiber has said the Coasters portrayed “a white kid’s view of a black person’s conception of white society.” The serio-comic street-smart “playlets” etched out by the songwriters were sung by the Coasters with a sly clowning humor, while the screaming saxophone of King Curtis filled in hot, honking bursts in the up-tempo doo-wop style. The group was openly “theatrical” in style—they were not pretending to be expressing their own experience.
The threatened punishment for not taking out the garbage and sweeping the floor is, in the song’s humorous lyrics:
“You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more,”
And the refrain is:
“Yakety yak; don’t talk back.”