Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rock ‘n’ roll: The sound of sex!

This article, from a 1956 issue of Rage for Men magazine, is an indictment of rock music. It quotes a Minneapolis newspaper describing a rock concert: “a thousand 13-year-olds had appeared at a ‘midnight orgy of sin and lewd music’ at a nearby fairgrounds, leaving behind them a trail of orange peels, paper cups and broken window panes.”

(Oh, the horror! Orange peels and paper cups! Those lewd, sinning little bastards!)

“The way those kids are going they’ll all have high blood pressure at 20,” says Mary E. Driscoll, all-powerful chairman of Boston’s licensing board.

The article claims, “Simplified, rock and roll is a ‘repetitive, rhythmic music, dependent on mass hypnosis for its effect.’”

“It’s not,” says noted anthropologist Antriem Warren, “much different from the drum rituals of Haiti.”

In 1956 rock ‘n’ roll was brand new and strange to adult ears used to Sinatra, Crosby, Rosemary Clooney or the other pop singers of the day. The criticisms zeroed in on Elvis, who had become the poster boy for rock, and a real bad boy of his day. Elvis (or whomever wrote the article under his byline), answered the critics in a follow-up article for the next issue of Rage. He sounds mostly unaffected, just a kid who loves to sing, and has a following. It’s a real aw-shucks article which calls in his working class origins and his parents.

At the time Elvis was a true rockstar, and living a rockstar life with girls and money available to him for the first time. He probably created a template for every rock star who came after him. Of course, that’s not mentioned in either article.

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