First Hit #1: October 21, 1972
Chuck Berry was a real rock and roll innovator and recorded some of the most influential tracks of the era, with Johnny B. Goode, Maybelline, and so on being a permanent part of the rock canon.
So it’s only natural that he broke the top of the chart with a song about playing with his penis.
Sometimes this can be a subtle effect, but in the case of My Ding-a-Ling, there is no way the song would work or even make sense if it wasn’t just about dicks. The punch lines are all predicated on the ding-a-ling being a dick, and the audience reaction requires it to be dicks, and it’s just a cavalcade of cocks as you go down. It’s a dumb joke, probably not even that funny of a joke, but it’s milked for all it’s worth.
To his credit, Berry knows how to work an audience. He’s having fun here, playing with the various members, picking up on little things and goading others into singing along. He’s having fun with it, making sure his audience has a good time and giving everyone a memorable evening. He’s a showman and a performer, and that’s really what strings all of his various songs together – he’s never recorded a track that wouldn’t play well live, and putting on a show seems to be the basis for all that stylistic innovation that he’s done over the years. So it’s not out of place to have him record an ode to playing with himself, he’s doing it for the joy of the audience above all. And even if this is an aggressively inessential recording on its own, it would have been a very fun concert to attend.