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A Music Revolution

Essay by review  •  December 18, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,456 Words (6 Pages)  •  853 Views

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A Music Revolution

"Rock-and-roll is the hamburger that ate the world." This quote by Peter York says a few things about rock-and-roll. From the beginnings of this style of music until now, it has dramatically changed this world and literally changed or "eaten" it. From the soft rock of Elvis Presley to the grunge rock of Guns N' Roses to the sound of Tom Petty, rock-and-roll has contributed to the different groups of people separated by its individual styles. Rock-and-roll has had a significant impact on American culture and style.

As always, rock-and-roll has been known for being related with sex and drugs. In the early days, many rock artists were known to be hardcore drinkers. This also includes the blues and jazz artists of the time. There were groups of girls who followed; even did sexual favors for some band members who were called Groupies (Social Effects of Rock-and-Roll 2). While some groups preferred this, there were others who avoided such attention in favor for long-term relationships. Other groups did little to discourage it, and many stories of sexual dares became part of rock legacy (Social Effects of Rock-and-Roll 2).

The creation of youth is another one. Rock and roll definitely changed the world of American popular music and, though it did not fully replace the "old" pop music, it took over its dominant position. This takeover implied a profound change of the musical idiom of pop music

which depth may be fathomed by comparing the last number-one hit of the 1950s, Frankie Avalon's "Why", with the first one, "I Can Dream, Can't I" of the Andrew Sisters (Whitburn 31). Still, rock and roll remained American popular music, rooted in the popular music styles existing in the United States of the early 1950s. Yet, it did not become an indistinct mix because its makers based their music mainly on one of these styles, rhythm and blues, and added only those musical elements from other streams that suited them.

"Their music coming out of New Orleans, out of Sam Phillips' Memphis studio and washing down from Chicago was loud, fiercely electric, raucous, bleeding with lust and menace and loss" (Marcus154-155).

Rock and roll attracted, above all, young people. Those who went for it had two reasons. First, they a new social category of young kids between 12 and 18 years old who -- just like other social categories -- needed a educational place of their own. Music is nicely suited for building such a place and the young willingly grabbed rock and roll for this purpose. Second, their parents let them share in the post-war richness. This enabled the young to buy the supplies to build this place of their own which were soon widely available because the world of commerce was all too eager to serve the teenager. The result was the appearance of an independent youth culture in which rock and roll occupied a central place. This gave rock and roll a symbolic dimension which made it more than just popular music in much the same way a common household item, the safety pin, took on a second -- symbolic -- meaning in the punk subculture (Hebdige 2).

The central place of rock and roll in the youth culture, in turn, affected the direction in which the music evolved. Rock and roll became an integral part of a new way of life, or in David Shumway's words, it became a cultural practice (Shumway 755-756).

The fact, however, that rock and roll achieved the same place in many other Western countries and that young people there also fell for rock and roll the moment they came in contact with it, suggests that there must have been more to it. Though most American cultural products were attractive in their own right in the West European countries after the war, the quick adoption of rock and roll was rather strange because the young in those countries were not familiar with its main components, rhythm and blues and country and western. Alternatives for rock and roll were readily available in these countries such as traditional jazz, modern jazz, and French chansons: all in trend among young people in countries like England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. This suggests that not all has yet been said and that the music itself also had some characteristics that may explain the preference for rock and roll.

Another big deal in the 1950's when rock-and-roll was just being born, racial equality in the music industry was a problem. "...Black Americans possessed a priceless musical heritage" (Rock-and-Roll Generation: Teen Life in the 50s 23). This included their gospel church choirs that have been rituals brought from Africa. Another part of this heritage was the blues, "...blending work chants with the joys and sorrows of the South" (Rock-and-Roll Generation: Teen Life in the

50s 23). These diverse elements came together to make rhythm and blues during the late 40's. Fused together with pulsating beat, they provided the foundation for rock-and-roll. "The United States was divided by racial problems during the 1950's, but many people sensed a spirit of equality in rock-and-roll. With the rise of rock-and-roll's new popularity, black artists were becoming more popular with audiences of all colors" (The 1950's 1).

Another big impact of rock-and-roll is now involved in sports. With DJ's, dancing girls and live music, is a sporting event about the soundtrack or the game itself? (Sullivan 1). When Super Bowl XL was approaching everyone in the world knew the Rolling Stones were going to provide 12 minutes of halftime fun. After repeatedly turning down this gig, the NFL saw this as the ultimate event and the "world's greatest rock band" was advertised as heavily

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