The Decline And Fall Of Rock And Roll

Old Music

The invention of the wireless (radio), and the gramophone (record player), created a market for music. Folks were listenin’ to these new-fangled gadgets, and they wanted to be entertained. This all created a new profession – song-writer. All that new music had to come from somewhere.

In the early part of the 20th century, most of it, at least in North America, came from a small area in New York City known as Tin Pan Alley – from a group of a couple of dozen professional song writers. They might be approached to compose a song about a specific theme, and/or for a particular performer. They produced songs for stage musical comedies – and later for movies, when they gained sound.

They wrote songs about whatever came to mind – everything, and nothing. The songs had no soul. (Not Negro Soul – that came later.) During the feel-good, bath-tub gin, Flapper Girl, Roaring 20s, many of the songs were light, happy little lilts. In the Dirty-30s Depression era, people had to be convinced that things would get better, with even more happy little lilts, songs like Happy Days Are Here Again.

During WW II there were patriotic songs for the troops, and upbeat Musical Comedy songs for those left at home. Tin Pan Alley had almost disappeared. More songs were being written by more people, but they were all formulaic – all just X number of bars long, all just X number of minutes play-time.

In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Big Band Sound regained popularity. There was more pure music, with fewer lyrics. The popular music scene all began to change in the mid-50s, when the Baby-Boomers began to come of age.

It all started with the likes of Canadian, Paul Anka, who wrote and sang a song about an older babysitter that he’d had the hots for. Then, because he did it his way, he wrote ‘I Did It My Way,’ for Frank Sinatra to make a hit of. They were about “something.”

Many of the new, young music makers were disillusioned, cynical, and angry, tired of a status quo which had brought a Great Depression, two World Wars, the Korean War, and threatening to involve America in the Viet Nam War.

A new word and category had been created – singer/songwriter. Soon, hundreds of teenagers were recording their own songs – and millions more were buying them. At first, the powers-that-be dismissed them –They’re just rebellious. They’re just Anti-(insert random cause here.) Soon though, attempts were made to outlaw this seditious music.

These new performers weren’t just anti…. Government corruption and brainwashing, corporate greed and toxic waste, Christian manipulation and control! They wrote songs about what they were for…. Negro civil rights, feminism, LGBT respect, a living wage.

They also wrote about things that affected their lives, and the lives of millions of other young Boomers who listened to them. They sang about THINGS – surfing, car racing, personal relations, travel, what touring with a band was like, the pros and cons of drug use, sexual abuse, alcohol, ecology, sex, love, and finally, what DJ Alan Freed had dubbed this new aggressive music genre, Rock And Roll.

Rock and roll has held on for over half a century. It defeated the upstart, Disco, but it is losing its edginess, its social concern, its cynical dissatisfaction. Elvis made a fortune, singing Black music to white folks. Nowadays, Snowflakes would have a meltdown about cultural appropriation.

Justin Bieber’s stuff is bright and tuneful, but about as exciting as a how-to manual for frying eggs. Alanis Morisette can’t read a dictionary, and if Taylor Swift weren’t so high-maintenance, she wouldn’t have 18 songs about ex-boyfriends.

None of it has the syncopated beat, the drive, the barely repressed anger, the social concern, anymore. Ed Sheeran’s work has a little bit more body to it, but it’s all become nice, and I don’t want “nice.” I miss the good old days when I could get a little Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ram Jam, Ozzy Ozbourne, Queen, or Fleetwood Mac.

‘They’ say that a population gets the government that they deserve. I guess the same is true about music. I’m all for civilized behavior, but if this keeps up, we won’t have to worry about China or North Korea. We’ve become so limp and whiny that we could be taken over by a Girl Scout troop from Iceland.

Stop back again in a couple of days, and I’ll sing you another tune. 😉

’19 A To Z Challenge – U

AtoZ2019Letter U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A USELESS TALE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

O Nostalgia, where is thy sting?

What do I do when a blog-post theme occurs to me while I am having lunch?
Keep munching! A good platter of nachos is like a contract with God Himself. You guys can read my blatherings any time.

Nachos

My Father was a minor performer. Before the advent of radios in automobiles, he used to regale us with ditties and folk-songs on Sunday drives and road trips. I have found most of them on Google, as folk or minstrel songs, but no indication that any of them were ever recorded. He must have received them as oral history.

The other day, as I was dashing through melted cheese and jalapeno rings, I recalled my mother crooning a little ballad to me in the late 1940s. At first, I thought it might have been just something that she had heard Dad sing. My friend, Dr. Google assured me that this had been a real, live song.

I typed in, Down In The Garden Where The Praties Grow.” If you tap, you will see that the title is merely, The Garden Where The Praties Grow. I remember asking my Mother what ‘praties’ were. She explained that this was an Irish term for ‘potatoes.’

I already knew what indignities the skirt-wearing Scots had inflicted on the language. It was no surprise to find that the drunken Irish couldn’t keep their words straight. Mom must have heard it on the primitive radio when she worked in the big city of Detroit. It was recorded in 1930, but the original version must have been written about 1870, with fashion references to Grecian Bend – women’s hunched stature, caused by a huge bustle – and ‘chignon’, a large, then-trendy, braid or bun at the nape of the neck.

I hope that some of you enjoy a bit of entertainment/fashion history. While I claimed that this story is useless, and about nothing, to me it is a fond remembrance of the soft, kind, loving support that my Mother gave to me as a growing child. This post, and the history/musical link, are particularly dedicated to 1Jaded1, who likes when I connect my story to a song.

’19 A To Z Challenge – O

Tattooed Lady

This blog-post will be short and sweet, just like its inspiration

OLIVIA

Olivia, Olivia, have you seen Olivia,
Olivia, the tattooed lady?

Oh, wait! That should be Groucho Marx singing about Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, (Click if you’d like to hear it.) full of racy, risqué, double entendres. The song was first sung in 1939, and it’s easy to include extra little references. When Americans got off their lazy, isolationist asses, and got into WW II, Groucho included the verse, “When she stands, the world gets littler. When she sits, she sits down on Hitler.

I can’t figure out how to make any portion of this post about me, so I’ll just include a link to the one where I debated getting a tattoo myself, for any of you who didn’t see it – and are desperately bored. At least Groucho is dead, and can’t compose a derogatory song about a Grumpy Old Tattooed Dude.

Olivia, as a name, means “Peace.” It comes from ‘olive’, both the tree and the fruit, which comes from the Italian, olea, which is the oil that middle-eastern people learned early to squeeze out. Christians like to claim that the phrase ‘Extend an olive branch,’ which is an offer of peace, comes from the Bible story of the dove returning to Noah with an olive leaf, or twig. But Greeks and Egyptians were using the olive branch 500/700 years B.C.

Olivia was not a common name for centuries. William Shakespeare is often credited with inventing it, but it existed at least 300 years before he included it for a character in Twelfth Night. He only made it a little more well-known and popular. Even a century ago, it was the 2285th most (least) common girls name.

All that changed in 1986, when Disney Studio released the animated movie, The Mouse Detective, with a cute little female mouse named Olivia Flaversham, and impressionable young mothers began naming their daughters Olivia. More recently, the Disney Channel compounded the interest by offering an animated series named Elena of Avalor. It’s an historic magic story-line, with a young female named Olivia, as assistant to a wizard. As a result, in 2018, the name Olivia was the 3rd most common girls’ name in The United States, and the 2nd most popular in Australia.

I luvya Olivia. Please come back in a couple of days, for some more useless trivia. 😀

Flash Fiction #204

Rain

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

Shuffle, shuffle, wait. Shuffle, slosh, wait. Slosh, splash, wait.

Rain is running down the back of my neck. I think there’s a hole in my boot.

Unless you’re the lead sled-dog, the view never changes, just a line of assholes in front of you.

“What Honey? Oh, I was just listening to Alanis Morisette singing her first hit, on my iPod. Haven’t heard that in a while. Remind me again, why are we standing in line in the rain, waiting to get into a Kohl’s? They’re giving away free Knirps umbrellas to the first 50 shoppers??! Now, isn’t that ironic?”

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

Click above, if you’re enough of a masochist to want to hear her sing the only song about irony – that isn’t.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Joked

confession-box

There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program.

The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

—–

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

—–

People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.

—–

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently “But, you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

___

 

A carful of Irish nuns are sitting at a traffic light in downtown Dublin, when a bunch of rowdy drunks pull up alongside of them. “Hey, show us yer teets, ya bloody penguins!” shouts one of the drunks.

Quite shocked, Mother Superior turns to Sister Mary Immaculata and says, “I don’t think they know who we are; show them your cross.”

Sister Mary Immaculata rolls down her window and shouts, “Piss off, ya fookin’ little wankers, before I come over there and rip yer balls off!”

Sister Mary Immaculata then rolls up her window, looks back at Mother Superior, quite innocently, and asks, “Did that sound cross enough?”

***

A German Shepherd, a Doberman and a Cat died. (Notice no type of cat was named!)

In heaven, all three faced God.
God wanted to know what each of them believed in.

The German Shepherd said, “I believe in discipline, training, and loyalty to my master.”

“Very good”, said God. “You may sit at my right hand!”
And so the German Shepherd did.

The Doberman approached and declared, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”
Once again, God proclaimed, “Very good! You may sit at my left hand!”
And so the Doberman did.

Finally, the Cat approached and God looked down from high above on his throne and inquired of the Cat, “And what do you believe in?”

The Cat looked squarely at God and replied, “I believe you are sitting in my seat!”

___

 

DIY One-Liner Title

Comedy

If you suck at playing the trumpet….
….that’s probably why.

England has no kidney bank….
….but it does have a Liverpool

I’m only friends with 25 letters of the alphabet…
….I don’t know Y

Big shout-out to my fingers….
….I can always count on them

Did I already do my déjà vu joke?

Irony….
….The opposite of wrinkly

Ban pre-shredded cheese….
….Make America grate again

Why did the duck cross the road?….
….because the chicken got run over
Knock, knock. Who’s there?….
….not the chicken

If you succeed at your first attempt at making sushi….
….you could call it raw talent

How to get Chinese people in Boston to agree with you….
….just panda to them

Sawdust??!….
….You mean man-glitter!

My horse’s name is Mayo….
….Mayo neighs

I tried acupuncture today….
….I still don’t get the point of it

My son won’t say that I’m fat….
….but if he names the 5 fattest people he knows, I am three of them.

I used to like my neighbors….
….until they put a password on their Wi-Fi

If cats could text you….
….they wouldn’t

My friend got mugged today….
….He had to call the cups

Stalking is when two people go for a long, romantic walk….
….but only one of them knows about it

My Mom never saw the irony….
….in calling me a son-of-a-bitch

I once farted in an elevator….
….it was wrong on so many levels

I am a nobody, nobody is perfect….
….therefore I am perfect

Someone suffering from a severe case of non-linear waterfowl syndrome….
….doesn’t have all their ducks in a row

Today my son asked, “Can I have a book mark?”….
….11 years old, and he doesn’t know that my name is Brian

How do you make Holy water?….
….You boil the Hell out of it.

I’m going to change my Facebook name to No one….
….then when I read a stupid post, I can click ‘like’, and it will say “No one likes this.”

Light travels faster than sound….
….that’s why some people appear bright, until they speak

To the thief who stole my anti-depressants….
….I hope you’re happy

My wife gives me sound advice….
….99% sound – 1% advice

 

Straight Arrow

Stright Arrow

My wife, bless her heart, is a linear thinker. I mean a, A straight line is the shortest distance between two points. linear thinker.

If we’re watching Poirot, or Miss Marple, or reruns of Columbo or Murder She Wrote, while my active and vivid imagination is distracted by red herrings, plot twists, or character development, her Laser mind points directly at the culprit.

It wasn’t the butler. It was the illegitimate son of the maid, from an affair with the Master. And she’s right 90% of the time. However…. She has trouble getting off the paved road. She reads romance novels. Several times I have heard her complain about the dénouement of a book. The story will come to a stop at a particular juncture, and it’s up to the reader to decide whether the hero will come back and marry the girl, or if he will ride off into the sunset. She gets quite upset. Enquiring minds (like hers) need to know!

It’s not that she has no sense of humor. It’s just that she is not friends with puns or word-play. My father used to describe a damp day by saying, “It tried to rain, but it missed (mist).” She occasionally repeats (?) this as, “It tried to rain, but it misted.” Literal! Literal! Literal!

My darling old Mother, who wouldn’t say ‘Shit’ if she had a mouthful, would comment about someone farting, by saying, “(That’s)Better out, than one of your eyes.” Like bread upon the waters, this one comes back as, “It’s better out that way, than out one of your eyes.” 😕 🙄

She has discovered a YouTube file that plays over 2 hours of mostly pop songs, but one of them is the old Meat Loaf song, ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). “What is it that he won’t do?? He keeps saying that he won’t do That, but he never says what That is. If she’d just shut up and stop obsessing, she’d find out. The song, like a sentence in German with the verb at the end, is constructed. After 4 minutes of him yowling that he won’t do that, his woman cuts in, and starts singing about him being a star, and rich and famous, and how he will use it ‘to go screwing around.’ The song ends with him assuring her, “But I won’t do that.”

She likes the singer, Ed Sheeran, and watches many of his music videos. One of them has her baffled. In the video for a song called Shape of You, Sheeran is in training as a boxer – jab, jab, punch, punch. He is assisted by a curvaceous young female, who even teaches him some dance steps to aid his footwork.

She returns to her locker, finds and reads a note, stuffs some things in her bag, and leaves. Perhaps the wife hoped for some romantic entanglement. From the first time she watched it, every time, she complains, “It doesn’t make sense. Why does she leave?” Doesn’t make sense??! These are music videos – one of them, Radioactive, shows Mexican cockfighting…. with Muppets. They’re not supposed to make sense.

It might be that, in today’s #MeToo society, the song keeps insisting that he’s in love with her body – the Shape of You. No mention of her smile, her intellect, her wit and humor, her kind and supportive nature – just her body.

Always trying to be helpful, I suggested that maybe she had to go home to make supper for her husband…. or perhaps she had to go home to make supper for her wife. Don’t ask – don’t tell. Still, every time, the question was repeated. “It doesn’t make sense. Why does she leave?”

As the video progresses, Sheeran leaves the training room, and enters a fight venue – to be faced with a Sumo wrestler. 😕 He engages the Sumo giant, wearing one of those ridiculous, inflatable Sumo costumes, and gets splatted to the floor. Apparently this all makes sense to the wife, and she unquestioningly accepts it.

To finally put us all out of our misery, the son told her that the note was from Sheeran’s fight manager, telling the eye-candy that she was a distraction to his training, and to keep away…. only, she shows up at the end, and knocks the Sumo guy down with a Kung Fu drop-kick. Out of the wife’s earshot, the son admitted that his explanation was highly unlikely, but it pacified her, and we all lived happily (and quietly) ever after.

Linear thinkers are useful, and quite productive, although they can be a little dismaying. Are you a linear thinker? My own thought processes can be like a tornado aftermath.

Maze