1959-68 Revisited: Richard, Berry, Diddley, Domino

1959-68 Revisited: Richard, Berry, Diddley, Domino

There's a lot to say about rock and roll -- obviously. Originally, this post was going to revisit British Invasion rock and roll. Then it was going to revisit "all" of rock and roll, whatever that means. In the end, the post is fairly short and the playlist focuses on Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino, mostly because I ran out of steam.

The current One Man Academy (OMA) project is listening to the Grammy's Album of the Year nominees and re-choosing winners, absent of historical context. In the 1959-68 Revisited series, we relisten to some favorite artists from that time period in more depth.

Spotify playlist for this post: OMAs 1959-68: Richard Berry Diddley Domino

If you only listen to one song: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", Little Richard[1]

While listening to these artists and others, one of the things I kept noting was how often rock-and-roll from this era sounded like country-and-western or rhythm-and-blues or plain ol' blues.

In present day America, it feels like music is a tool we use to drive a wedge between groups of people. If the illusion is going to be effective, we need to perceive of musical genres as distinct; if we see genres as fluid they're not a useful tool for defining and identifying a tribe. While there's not an inherent problem with distinct subcultures within a society, too often musical taste feels tinged-to-saturated with animosity toward the music that's not "my type of music".[2] That's a shame, for a couple of reasons.

  1. Good music is just good music. A great rock song basically has the same guts as a great country song and a great rap song and a great pop song, etc.
  2. It's not that long ago (i.e. within the lifetime of a giant swath of America's citizenry) that all of these Very Separate Genres weren't so separate.

One of the things I think about often, and say occasionally, is that our society is amazing at creating divisions where divisions need not exist. Listening to rock and roll -- especially early rock and roll -- reminded me of those needless divisions.

  1. Bonus version: "Whole Lotta Shakin´ Goin´ On", Big Maybelle ↩︎

  2. Of course, this is likely splash-over from the animosity the groups already feel toward each other. ↩︎