NOTE TO MY READERS: The following entry is a very special one. It's my first attempt at making a "musical" entry. I've posted music before on here, as you all know, but never on this scale. Six oldie classics, hand-selected, for a little trip down memory lane. You readers of my own age and older will recognize most, if not all of these tunes. They were all smash hits, back in the day. Oh, and those *were* the days, weren't they?? So just read on, then pause when you're prompted to click on a song. Listen, then move on. Take your time. What's the hurry? Life moved slower in those days, didn't it? I hope you will pause to savor each tune and will have as much fun listening as I did putting this together.
Now, come along with me. Let's turn the clock back to -- oh -- I guess it was 1956, or thereabouts . . . . . . .
Do You Remember?
When Rock 'n Roll was young? Our parents hated it, some called it "the devil's music." But it was fresh. New. It had a different beat than the 40's Big Bands mom and dad loved so much. And we made it ours. It became the beat of an entire generation.
Something called "Rockabilly" started it. A crazy mix of country, blues, and black gospel. It was like nothing that had ever been heard before. And then one day a young man from Lubbock, Texas, who wore goofy-looking thick black eyeglasses, played his songs and sang to us across the airwaves and The Music was born. Though Buddy Holly would tragically die in an airplane crash, in 1959, his legacy would live forever. And his influence is still alive to this very day . . . . .
Do You Remember?
When another young man cut a three-dollar recording in Memphis, Tennesse? It was to be a present for his mother's birthday. Little did Elvis Aron Presley know, but that cheap record would soon launch him to worldwide fame and riches beyond his wildest dreams. Born into the deepest of poverty in the rural south, Elvis lived and truly embodied the American Dream.
He didn't create Rock 'n Roll music. Buddy Holly and others did that. But with his snarling mouth and swiveling hip gyrations onstage, he taught every budding rock and roller how to perform it. In doing so, he scandalized the older generation of that era, while at the same time bringing a younger generation of adolescent girls to their knees, trembling and sobbing at his feet. Elvis became a cultural icon -- the first true Rock Idol. Many more were to follow, but none of those others would ever become the household name that he did. Performers today are wilder, to be sure, with some even stretching the barriers of decency to its limits, but they owe it all to Elvis, and, like Buddy Holly, you can still see his performing influence alive and well today, if you look closely.
Do You Remember?
When popular African-American music was referred to as "Race Music?" Segregated in that day from the music and culture of the whites, that only lasted until Elvis and some others incorporated those black influences into their own sounds. That created a stir and scandal -- in both communties.
But the barriers had been broken and would come down quickly. Before long, a young, blind black man from rural Florida would cross the barrier from the other side. Ray Charles Robinson had learned to play the piano after he went blind -- no small accomplishment. His elderly teacher saw that the boy was gifted and taught him what he knew. It wasn't long before Ray Charles was outplaying his teacher. He left Florida, "paid his dues" for a few years, playing gigs mainly in black communities. But when he jammed with a country music band and blended right in with them, even those racist white men realized the young man's enormous talent and he won their grudging respect.
Ray had heard the new white phenomenon called "Rock 'n Roll," and liked what he heard. Liked it so much, in fact, that he incorporated that sound into his own music, setting the gospel influence to an even different beat. Other blacks, especially the religious folks, were livid when they heard it and Charles came under fire from his own people. But the new sound worked and it crossed over to the white radio stations, where our young rock generation listened to it and grew to love it.
Ray Charles had created a whole new genre of music that would be named Rythmn and Blues, or "R&B," for short. The music would grow and expand from those beginnings, and would appeal to both black and white audiences alike. The color barrier in music was thus broken years before the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land. Ray Charles proved that musical genius can know no racial barriers. It didn't then, it doesn't now, and it never will.
Do You Remember?
When cars had fins like sharks? When Cadillacs had the little "boobs" on the bumper? When Coca-Colas came in those little 6 ounce glass bottles and cost a dime? When you could get a HUGE double cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, and a milkshake for $1.25? When the most popular restaurants were drive-ins? When the cute female "curbhops" wore tight short-shorts in the summer and some brought the food orders out to your car on roller skates?
Do you remember when half your Saturday night was spent cruising from drive-in to drive-in, just to see who was hangin' out? You'd park, get a Coke float, and chat with friends, over the car radios, blaring the most popular hits of the day. No fancy stereos and booming subwoofers back then, either. You had a plain, no-frills mono dashboard radio, tuned in to a favorite AM station. Some of the more expensive cars had radios that incorporated a new technology called "High Fidelity," or Hi-Fi.
Close your eyes and listen now. They're playing your favorite hit song . . .
Do You Remember?
Those fights after the football game every Friday night? When some guys formed car clubs and wore satin jackets, with the club's name embroidered on the back? Their girlfriends all wore matching jackets over poodle skirts. Remember when the motorcycle punks wore black leather jackets all the time, even in the summer? Remember when the car clubs and bike clubs had "rumbles," now and again? Remember the "duck tail" haircuts the guys wore? When they were called "J.D.s" -- short for Juvenile Delinquents?
Some of those guys grew up and straightened out, once their hormones settled down, but others were headed straight for prison, and, unfortunately, a few did make it there. . . .
And, speaking of hormones . . . . . Do You Remember?
When your own teen hormones were running amok? Do you recall the new and weird feelings you felt when that skinny little girl down the street emerged one fall, when school began, and she had begun to look like a budding young woman, even down to real nylons, lipstick and nail polish? Do you gals remember how the guy's voices suddenly deepened, their muscles began to resemble a man's, and they began to shave fuzzy beards? Overnight, you began to see once-familiar playmates in a brand-new light and some deep primal urge began to grow within you.
Do you remember your first date, and how nervous you were? The "Sadie Hawkins" dances, when the girls asked the boys to take them out? The Junior and Senior Proms? Getting "ringed" for the first time, and "going steady?" Do you remember going to the drive-in movies with your date on weekends and hardly noticing the film that was showing? Fat chance you could have seen it anyway, with the car windows all steamed up like that! Did you have a Lover's Lane, where you went late on Saturday night, after cruising around for hours? Did cops ever come by, knock on your steamed-up window, and tell you to get moving? Or was it some girl's father, perhaps?
Remember what you did in that car that caused those windows to fog up? Remember the first time your steady girlfriend allowed you to "feel her up?" The first time you ever got felt up? Did you go "all the way" in high school, or did that come after graduation, or when you got married?
Do you remember when you fell in love for the first time? Still remember the special song that played when you kissed him or her? Mmmmmmm -- let's see -- I'll bet it was something like this . . .
Well, I guess that's about it for this little trip down memory lane. Six songs from the generation that made Rock 'n Roll the solid musical form that it has become today. My generation. Our generation. Much has been and still will be written about us Baby Boomers, but nothing I know of can sum it all up better than a tune that came out around 1975. It was written and performed by a gentleman named Don McClean. For those of you who don't know, "The Day The Music Died" line in the song refers to the day Buddy Holly and two other artists were killed in that 1959 plane crash, outside Clear Lake, Iowa.
Teen angst being what it is, many feared that Rock 'n Roll would die with him; some may have indeed believed that it did die with him. But they were wrong. It's still very much around today. It sounds different, but most of those early influences are still there, if you really listen. You younger listeners can thank Baby Boomers, if you like rock music. It was ours. We made it our music, then we handed it off to you.
On that note, I've enjoyed being your "disc jockey" in this entry. We'll have to do it again sometime. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a bonus song -- a little American Pie!
You MUST CLICK for the song to play.