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.

What A Buzz

coffee can

You Know You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee When…

  1. Juan Valdez names his donkey after you.
  2. You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
  3. The only time you’re standing still is during an earthquake.
  4. You can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using
    the timer.
  5. You lick your coffeepot clean.
  6. You spend every vacation visiting “Maxwell House.”
  7. You’re the employee of the month at the local Starbucks and you
    don’t even work there.
  8. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
  9. You’re so jittery that people use your hands to blend their
    margaritas.
  10. You can jump-start your car without cables.
  11. All your kids are named “Joe.”
  12. Your only source of nutrition comes from “Sweet & Low.”
  13. You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.
  14. You’ve built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.
  15. People get dizzy just watching you.
  16. When you find a penny, you say, “Find a penny, pick it up.
    Sixty-three more, I’ll have a cup.”
  17. The Taster’s Choice couple wants to adopt you.
  18. Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
  19. You’re so wired, you pick up FM radio.
  20. Your life’s goal is to “amount to a hill of beans.”
  21. Instant coffee takes too long.
  22. When someone says. “How are you?”, you say, “Good to the last drop.”
  23. You want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity
    in a coffee can.
  24. You go to sleep just so you can wake up and smell the coffee.
  25. You’re offended when people use the word “brew” to mean beer.
  26. You name your cats “Cream” and “Sugar.”
  27. You get drunk just so you can sober up.
  28. Your lips are permanently stuck in the sipping position.
  29. You can outlast the Energizer bunny.
  30. You don’t even wait for the water to boil anymore.
  31. You think being called a “drip” is a compliment.
  32. You don’t tan, you roast.
  33. You can’t even remember your second cup.
  34. You introduce your spouse as your “Coffeemate.”
  35. You think CPR stands for “Coffee Provides Resuscitation.”
  36. You have too much blood in your caffeine system.
  37. The barista asks you how you take your coffee, and you reply, “Very, very seriously!”
  38. You find sleep a weak substitute for coffee.

The Rest Of The Story

Llama

….so I says to him, if Bob can walk his albino python up and down the hall on a leash, why can’t I bring in my llama?? It’s an emotional-support animal too!

There’s a game where you and a friend (or a cell phone) are on an elevator with only a floor or two to go, and someone else gets on. You make some mind-boggling statement, like the one above, and then get off at your floor.

WE ALL WANT TO KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!

Some of you, especially Americans, may have heard the great Paul Harvey’s radio broadcast of that name, where he tells ‘What Else Happened.’  He had a tale of a male British teen with a pure, sweet voice, who sang in the school choir.

One day, he was viciously elbowed in the face during a basketball game, and completely bit off almost an inch of his somewhat long tongue. A doctor sewed up the end of the rest, but told him that he would never sing again.  After he graduated, he became Mick Jagger – lead singer for The Rolling Stones – and that’s the reason for the Rolling Stone logo.

Back in the Stone Ages, when airplanes still had propellers, a young American man accompanied a Catholic bishop on a business trip to Chicago. As they neared O’Hare Airport, the plane was struck by lightning in a powerful storm, and a couple of the engines stopped.

The Captain came on the intercom and said that they might have to ditch. In the row behind the young man were a couple with an 8-year-old girl.  She began screaming and crying, further panicking other passengers.  The young man undid his seatbelt, and turned around, kneeling on his seat.  He began to make strange, funny faces at the little girl, until she, and surrounding passengers, were chuckling and laughing at him.

The engines restarted, they safely landed in Chicago, and Red Skelton went on to a very successful career in comedy.

I’ve had a couple of these cases where I was able to find out the whole story. During my late teens, my younger brother carried on a summer romance with a girl whose family owned a cottage on our beach.  She and her mother stayed all summer, and her father drove in every Friday night after work.

One time, she went home with him for the week. My brother looked forward to her return on Friday night.  When he arrived, she was shaken and sobbing.  Her father had run over and killed, an Indian on the highway through the adjoining reservation.

Later in the summer, I was hanging out with a lad that my Mother had warned me to stay away from. He told me the story of, earlier in the summer, going out to the Res (already risky) and getting drunk with a group of Indian teens – unpredictable, and far riskier.

They were walking beside the highway, facing traffic, when he stumbled into one of them. Instantly angry and irritated, the guy gave him a great shove, and he landed in the ditch.  The force of the push knocked the other drunken teen over backward….right into the path of the oncoming car.

I took my car to a mechanic for service. He also worked on the personal car of an Ontario Provincial Police officer.  His patrol area was down the big highway, almost to the airport on the edge of Toronto.  He told my tech a story.

One night, around 3 AM, he was sitting in a turn-around, with his radar gun aimed back up the road. At that time, the highway was almost empty.  Suddenly, a set of headlights appeared.  That in itself is unusual, because lights usually start as a distant glow, and increase.

The radar readout increases and gets more accurate as the vehicle gets nearer. The speed limit is 100KmH (about 62.25 American MPH)  He watched, stupefied….50 – 100 – 150 – 200 – 225 – 250 – 275 – 300.  Just as the blur passed him, the screen read 304KmH!

He thought about starting the cruiser….and then just shook his head.  He considered radioing for assistance, and shook it again.

About a month later, another friend of the mechanic dropped in for a visit. He owns the ‘Robin Masters’ Ferrari from Magnum P.I. because he’s a computer-tech genius.  He fixes big computer systems when they crash, and he’s on-call 24/7/365.  Calls can come at any time, and from Toronto to Taiwan.  Losses can be thousands of dollars per hour, so time is of the essence.

He was wakened about 2:00AM, with a computer-crash in Dubai. A chartered plane would be waiting at the Toronto airport.  Get there ASAP!!  He told his buddy that the highway was almost empty, so he really let’er out.  “It’s a good thing that there were no cops out that night, because I was really flying.  Musta been doin’ almost 300 K.”

And now you know ‘The Rest Of The Story.’

Come back in a couple of days, and I’ll tell you another fascinating story.   🙂

A To Z Challenge – A

 

Challenge2017

Another year – another Challenge.  Is it April again, already??  I guess I have to start with

Letter A

I was thinking about doing a series about animals from A to Z, Ants to Zebras, but I discovered that, if it didn’t involve gravy or barbecue sauce, I didn’t really know much about animals.

I also considered a themed series about rock groups, from AC/DC, to ZZ Top, but when I got to the bottom, with the Top, I decided that the post would be about Assholes.

On the old WKRP In Cincinnati TV show, the character of Les Nessman had to do the sports reporting without knowing anything about sports.  He insisted on calling the golfer Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Chai Chai Rod-rig-weez.

When ZZ Top was still tooling around the airwaves in their Eliminator, whether through honest ignorance, or just an attempt to prove the ‘We’re Canadian, Eh’, a local asshole DJ always introduced them as Zed Zed Top.  American is a ‘foreign language’, just as much as Spanish is.  Learn to use it and pronounce it correctly!

Despite every other radio DJ making it sound like ‘Jamaica,’ a recently promoted female announcer missed the apostrophe, and the double entendre joke, and introduced Led Zeppelin’s song, D’yermaker, as ‘dyer maker.’   The Mr. Big candy bar ads used to claim, “When you’re this big, they call you Mr.”  When you’re this clueless, they call you Mr. Asshole.

Now you know my ABCs will be coming at you for another year. 😳

Screw You

SDC10824 SDC10822

This is another in the series of ‘Old Shit I Own.’ Do any of you know what this thing is, or what it was used for?  It’s another piece of long-lost memorabilia I discovered in the protracted Autumn Housecleaning.

The younger ones in my readership may find this hard to believe but, there was a time, not that long ago, when homes were not provided with numerous electrical outlets – or power points, or even wireless recharging of all those indispensible electronic gadgets.

This is a screw plug. It was used in rooms of homes where there might not be even one wall-socket electrical outlet.  You unscrewed the light bulb from an overhead fixture, screwed this in instead, and had a place to plug in things like my Mother’s washing machine, which rolled out to the middle of the room on little wheels.

Double socket

The problem then was, all work had to be done during the day, or the room would be dark. That problem was quickly solved by the development of the above little gadget.  You could screw the bulb back in to see what you were doing, and insert the socket on the other side of the Y.  I used one of them for a while, until I managed to install a light fixture over my basement workbench.

I know I am truly older than dirt, and born and raised out on the frontiers of the universe. I was too young to do so, but I have seen people using telephones which were a big box on the wall, with a speaking funnel on the front, and an earpiece dangling from the hang-up hook on one side.  You picked up the earpiece and turned a little crank on the other side, which attracted the attention of a real, live, operator.

CFL Bulb

Edison’s incandescent light bulbs, with an output of 60 watts or more, have been outlawed in Ontario, and replaced with CFL Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or now the LED style which produces more light and less heat, and save power. The only thing more ancient than incandescent, may be wall sconces with flaming torches – and you can’t plug a radio into one of those.

Flash Fiction # 81

Piano

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan W. Fields

IN THE KEY OF F. U.

As a young lad, my parents provided me with piano lessons.

My teacher thought I was very musically declined.

After three years of intense study, I could finally….spell P.I.A.N.O.

Soon, I could carry a tune….in my studies briefcase.

I learned to play piano by ear. It sounded better than when I used my fingers.

As piano players go….I was often ordered to.

A neighbor once requested that I play ‘Far, Far Away’….preferably the next county.

The best thing that I ever played was….the radio.

When I decided to become an accountant, the Mayor gave me the key….to a different city.

***

And there you have the history of my musical career. Despite Rochelle’s theme, sadly, little of it is fiction.

***

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