Etymology of Chooglin’ in rock, funk and boogie – Definition of Choogle (2023)

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May 24, 2007 uncleweed13 Comments

You know i dig Chooglin’ on – meaning rambling along on adventures, going elsewhere, somewhere, nowhere … rolling where i feel the flow, getting in a ruckus and causing a disturbance – but ya know the good kind of raucous disturbances.

When i think about ‘who’s chooglin’?’ i think of the dude careening down the city road riding an overloaded shopping cart of bottles, cans and random crap, he’s chooglin’. The old lady with a cane hustling to catch the bus cause the driver ain’t got no heart to wait – she’s a chooglin’. The busker i see in the seabus tunnel playing his guts out and getting hassled by the po-po cause he ain’t got no permit and he’s just trying to sing to the folks man! – he be a chooglin’ for sure. Chooglin’ is a state of mind – a go with the flow but in an immediate active tense … so as i sees it anyhow.

Etymology of Chooglin’ in rock, funk and boogie – Definition of Choogle (1)

Some urban dictionary jive has all sorts of crazy speculation about what means choogle/chooglin’/choogling ranging from dubious sex acts to cheating or Chinese-i-fying some search engine which vaguely rhymes with choogle.

Turns out some lads in Austin spent the time to figure what the meaning of choogle is on the street. Read the whole treatise (written by Christopher Gray, published Wed Apr 18, 12:40pm) called To Choogle or Not to Choogle as he talks about a band called Chooglin’ and the origins of the word in a semi-academic manner.

Etymology of Chooglin’ in rock, funk and boogie – Definition of Choogle (2)

(btw, the band is described in another article “Choogle X 2” thusly: “The fourpiece utilizes garage-borne punk fury to remind us of the ass-shaking salvation once offered by the boogie-down guitar rock of the Seventies before it got all bloated on deli trays and cocaine.”)

Noble effort indeed. Here’s a guy who clearly spent some time diggin’ into the heart of rockin forth,boogie-ing down and chooglin’ – serving up the full riffs of swampy CCR, burly BTO and ramblin Grateful Dead as the reprentative soundtrackers to the choogle lifestyle. Serves up some tasty honorable mentions to Sly and his Family of Stone(r)s, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Skynyrd, (phat) Elvis (sometimes) and even cameo chooglin by alt-rock savants Modest Mouse. Knew someone would find a common thread between all those besides just me.

Here a remixed sampler pack of quotes about the etymology of Chooglin’ but wise folks with read up on the choogle (Copyright © 2007 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved. Used under fair use.) and live it right (or wrong – whichever, i do not fret):

Some words are so much fun to say it almost doesn’t matter what they mean. So it is with the perpetually misunderstood swampy rock & roll term “choogle.” It’s one of those words – SF Weekly calls it a “nonsense rock verb” this week – that gets tossed around a fair amount even though its actual meaning is elusive.

If applied correctly, it’s simply a synonym for awesome, and this nonsense rock verb is having a bit of a moment right now.

But choogle is meant to be embraced, not overlooked. “Choogle is a debauched form of white-boy boogie, after white-boy boogie drank too much Old Crow and fell asleep on his deck listening to Grand Funk Railroad,” SF Weekly’s Frances Reade, profiling contemporary acid casualties the Assemble Head, writes in the paper’s current issue. “Choogle has a nasty sunburn and a hangover, but he’s still ready to party.”

Choogle dates back at least to 1969, when it was coined by John Fogerty. Lord knows how he came up with it, but Fogerty advised listeners to “Keep on chooglin'” for eight whole minutes on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album, Bayou Country.

Choogle also became known as an especially funky form of travel once Fogerty stated his intention to “choogle on down to New Orleans” in the same album’s “Born on the Bayou.” Deposed former Village Voice rock scribe Robert Christgau, never, ever guilty of overanalysis, displays a firm grasp on choogle on his Web site’s Creedence entry: “The energy implied by coinages like ‘choogle’ and ‘ramble tamble’ has more to do with vigor than with potency, more to do with simple activity than with sexuality. That distinction has its parallel in Fogerty’s politics, which are less apocalyptic (and revolutionary) than activist (and liberal) – the politics of agape rather than the politics of eros.” Word, Bob.

[Dave note: ‘the politics of agape rather than the politics of eros.’ = whoa dude]

… it’s more of a rhythm than anything else: fluid, organic, undulating. Though the tempo varies, all choogle carries an insistent drive that just won’t quit. Therefore, the lion’s share of Sly & the Family Stone’s newly reissued 1969 landmark Stand! could rightfully be called choogle, while some Southern rock icons are almost completely choogle-free.

Choogle is rooted in the blues, but doesn’t live there – the Allman Brothers couldn’t choogle to save their lives. Lynyrd Skynyrd were capable of chooglin’ – “Gimme Three Steps” and “Call Me the Breeze” come to mind – but certainly not “Free Bird” or “Saturday Night Special.” .38 Special flirted with choogle on “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up in You,” but more as a garnish than a foundation. Post-’68-comeback Elvis choogled all over “Burning Love,” “Suspicious Minds,” and Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie,” but was inevitably eclipsed by less choogly ballads like “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” More’s the pity.

Like Fogerty himself, many of history’s main chooglers hail from way outside Dixie. All-time choogler anthem “Takin’ Care of Business” comes to us from Winnipeg, Canada, by way of Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Cleveland native Joe Walsh took choogle to new heights on “Rocky Mountain Way,” and once they got going, the Grateful Dead could choogle for hours on end. Maybe even days..

Metal never, ever choogles, except maybe Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Modest Mouse flirts with chooglin’ a few times on latest We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but never quite follow through.

To Choogle or Not to Choogle Christopher Gray, published Wed Apr 18, 12:40pm

(Copyright © 2007 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved. Used under fair use.)

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  1. Pure ramble-tamble babble including the comments


  2. I was just following the live AMA (Ask Me Anything) with John Fogerty on Reddit. He talked about chooglin.

    Hello, I’m a big fan. Thanks for doing this! What exactly does “chooglin” mean?

    johnfogerty – John Fogerty
    It was just a fun expression that I made up. It wasn’t a real word but I wanted to have a word that sounded kind of like “rockin,” “shufflin,” “boogie,” kind of rock n roll.


  3. it’s obviously an l.s.d. inspired sound spelled out phoeneticlly, those oooglyboogly audio hallucinations ..choomeyoogeywoogey…
    if you’ve dropped, you know.


  4. I meant to write, “extended” rather than “extending” as in my comment.


  5. “Chooglin” is a simple let’s have fun with language usage combination of “Choo-choo”, like a train, and “boogie”, i.e., “boogie music” but in the extending meaning of movement (hipster, dance), “let’s boogie out of here”, thus Choo + Boogie = Choogle, Choogie, Choogling, thus “Chooglin’ on Down to New Orelans.”


  6. This conversation cam up with memeber of the fine, and occasionally chooglin’, band, Magnolia Electric Company…

    A choogle is like a boogie without the swing….insistent & persistent..

    In these terms I am thinking of choogle as a specific drum groove…such as a boogie…ZZ Top boogied, CCR choogled…



  7. The line in ‘Born on the Bayou’ ‘Choogle on down to New Orleans’ sounds to me like the Scottish word ‘Shoogle’ , meaning to shake.
    If someone is dancing in an eratic or care free way you could say they were shooglin’ about the dance floor or if someone needs space to sit down on a couch, they would ask the person sitting to ‘shoogle up’.
    Fogerty’s middle name ‘Cameron’ is of course Scottish in origin, so it’s possible he could have been exposed to the word.
    I’ve never read a biography, anyone know if he had a Scottish Granny.

    The Scottish influence on the etymology of American words,


  8. Chooglin means keep on making love an nothing else.If you are on a train,a boat or what ever you need to KEEP ON chooglin.


  9. yup i am with ya Drew. rambling and rolling down the rails is what i think of when i think chooglin’ – insert train whistle sound here


  10. The feeling I always got was that choogle was sort of the sound a train makes as it’s “chooglin’ on down the line”, which makes me think it’s something like “keep on truckin”, but for train people.


Whatcha think?


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