Thursday, August 16, 2007

Musical Chairs

I'm not a music historian. I don't even know if such people exist. But once upon a time, rock and roll was born, and it was huge. We got Bill Haley and Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry pushing big band and swing out of the popular forefront. We got the Twist which was such a huge pop music influence that Frank Sinatra even recorded a Twist album (or so I've read; I've never heard the thing - the family's probably buried it).

In the sixties, several fronts washed through. There was beach music from the Beach Boys and fresh sounds from Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, studio harmonies from groups like the Mamas and the Papas and Spanky and Our Gang. The Motown sound. Then the British Invasion arrived stomping those sounds with the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and anything with a Liverpool accent. In the later sixties came acid rock, psychedelic Jimi Hendrix licks to swallow LSD to and not remember who you were with at the concert the night before.

In the seventies music seemed to settle back down a bit, giving us Casey Kasem's Weekly Top 40 show and a kindler, gentler American Bandstand. We even got Barry Manilow. Disco arrived in full force although as far as I know Sinatra stayed away from that one. We got funk from the Ohio Players and Parliament, some really interesting stuff from Earth, Wind & Fire, and a whole host of new sounds throughout the eighties. Punk rock came out of somewhere, and heavy metal, and Seattle grunge. Some power in the universe even gave us Weird Al and Kenny G.

In other words, there have been a lot of really serious, powerful trends and forces that have shaped pop music throughout the decades of the twentieth century, since radio, records and talking pictures have had a hand in shaping our culture. These things have come and gone, leaving traces of themselves to be assimilated by following waves, the good elements establishing themselves and wackier ones going the way as novelty store vomit.

So what's the point? God, I cannot wait for this hip-hop crap to disappear from the face of our planet. Let the alien observers ninety trillion light years away pick up the crap we're beaming into space far in our own future and shake their heads wondering just what the hell we could have been thinking. Please let it go away. Soon.

Anybody got a copy of the Sinatra Twist album in the meantime? ANYTHING'S gotta be better than this...


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