“Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music, any old way you choose it. It’s got a back beat, you can’t blues it, any old time you use it.”
When I hear that tune, “Rock and Roll Music,” my first thought is of The Beatles. It shouldn’t. Their version came out in 1976. It was sung in 1957 – almost two decades before – by Chuck Berry, one of the many strong influences on The Beatles’ earlier works.
“Chuck Berry melded the blues, country, and a witty, defiant teen outlook into songs that have influenced virtually every rock musician in his wake,” according to Rolling Stone, “Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.”
That was the appeal for this rebel without a cause. My love of rock and roll took on many forms: Buddy Holly, Motown and surfer music. But the ones that caused the biggest battle at home was the splatter tunes – the cheatin’ and the cryin’, the lyin’ and the dyin’ music.
Those tearjerkers – such as “Last Kiss” (1964) by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, and “Leader of the Pack” (1964) by the Shangri Las – had a short life-span when my Dad crossed the threshold of our home.
As soon as Dad’s car pulled into our driveway, I’d race to turn off the radio in our living room and retreat to my room to hear them.
Then, Mersey beaucoup. The reception was a bit warmer for The Beatles. On Feb. 7, 1964, the Four Lads from Liverpool crossed the pond and landed at New York’s Kennedy Airport. Several hundred thousand people jammed into the airport to welcome them. Two days later, they appeared on TV’s “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Beatlemania was rampant. They were cheeky, fun and cute. Their songs – many of them upbeat – were great danceable rock ‘n’ roll tunes.
“I feel happy inside, it’s such a feeling that my love, I can’t hide …” (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles).
Quite a contrast to tunes where the girlfriend – or boyfriend – died, leaving a heartbroken teen behind. I’m still trying to figure out the story behind “Teen Angel” (1959) by Mark Dinning and Alex Murray.
A teenage couple is riding in a car that stalls on the railroad tracks. The boy pulls his girlfriend to safety, but she runs back to the car and is killed by the train. In her hand, his ring. Why didn’t she have the ring on? Or, just get a new ring?
Me? I would have said, “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” and “P.S. I Love You.” [Happy Valentines Day, honey.]
What music gets your heart – and feet – to skip a beat?
Video: Beatles arrive in U.S. – Feb. 7, 1964 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Df-LvrRcEo
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Photo: Icon for rock music on Wikipedia. Silhouetted rock ‘n’ roll guitar player. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RockNRollGuitarist.svg
Photo – The Beatles – KennedyAirport – February 1964 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Beatles,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg
Video: Rock and Roll Music, Chuck Berry (1957) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH8IrcvdiD8
Video: Last Kiss, J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh4se9YMV3A
Video: I’m Happy Just to Dance With You, The Beatles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44YitKiVZ8E
Video: The Beatles, P.S. I Love You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ynDcrF2b8