#566: Snake In The Garden by Jerry Howard
Peak Month: February 1960
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “Snake In The Garden”
Not much is known about Jerry Howard. In 1959 he co-wrote “Feelin’ Low” for George Roberts And His Big Bass Trombone. The single was not a hit record. On November 16, 1959, Billboard reported that “Snake In The Garden” was “breaking” into the record and radio market in Miami. Indeed, the song was #17 on the WAME-AM survey the following week. After the single was released it got a review in the November 30, 1959, issue of Billboard magazine in their “Very Strong Sales Potential” section: “Snake In The Garden – strong performance by Howard on an interesting rockaballad with folksy flavor and the lyric based on Adam and Eve theme. Effective backing.”
“Snake In The Garden” was composed by Hal Shrager, with lyrics by Al Chorney and Sid Shrager. The songwriting trio had a hit with their song, “Rebel”, in 1957 when Carol Jarvis took the song to #48 on the Billboard pop chart. The song was covered by I Dream Of Jeannie‘s Barbara Eden in 1967. That year Jackie Gleason recorded the trio’s song “Snowbound For Christmas”. They wrote a song for the Farmer Boys titled “Lend A Helping Hand” make the country charts in 1955. And Bob And Lucille had a minor hit with their “Demon Lover” in 1958.
“Snake In The Garden” was inspired by the story in the Hebrew scriptures of Adam and Eve and the snake that tempts them. In the case of this song, the temptation of a snake comes in the form of another guy who is trying to steal someone’s “baby” from them. The other guy is the “buddy” and “best friend” who is winning his “baby” over. The lure of this snake is “apples” and “goodies” if she’ll let him take her out on the town.
After the first creation myth in the first chapter of Genesis, where “the LORD God” creates the cosmos in seven days, is a second creation story in Genesis 2:4-3:24. Here YHWH-Elohim (“the LORD God”) creates Adam (earthling, mankind, a human) and places him in a garden of Eden (from “fruitful,” “well-watered”). The Biblical text states “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Adam was free to eat from any tree in the garden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Last of all, the God made a woman named Eve (“living one”, “source of life”) from a rib of Adam to be his companion. In chapter three, Adam and Eve were seduced by a serpent (snake) into eating the forbidden fruit. “The LORD God” banished them from the Garden of Eden to stop them from eating of the Tree of Life, and living forever.
Jerry Howard’s “Snake In The Garden” made the Top 40 in Phoenix, #11 in San Francisco and #6 in Vancouver (BC).
In the summer of 1960 Jerry Howard released “Memoirs Of A Fool”. The single made the pop charts in San Bernardino, California, and Spokane, Washington. In 1962 Jerry Howard released a single with Ditto Records titled “Wind Of Love”. The song was not a hit. The short-lived musical career of Jerry Howard, from 1959 to 1962, left him in obscurity as he’s left no trace on the Internet at this time of writing.
There is a very slim possibility that Jerry Howard is Jerry Howard Styner, the songwriter, producer and musician born in 1936 in Los Angeles. Styner went under the name of Rusty Howard (and the Rhythm Rangers) starting in 1952 with that band’s first 78RPM release. Jerry Styner went on to co-write songs and/or music for teen movies Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo (both starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon), Ski Party (starring Frankie Avalon, the Hondells and Leslie Gore), Thunder Alley (starring Annette and Fabian), The Savage Seven (starring Duane Eddy) and The Devil’s Eight (starring Fabian). If Jerry Howard Styner chose to record a couple of singles billed as Jerry Howard, Wikipedia didn’t pick up on it.
May 12, 2019
“Very Strong Sales Potential” song reviews, Billboard, November 30, 1959.
Rick 29, “Composers of the Month: Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner,” Classic Film and TV Cafe, May 5, 2011.
For more song reviews visit the Countdown.