Music 162, Spring 2008
American Popular Song
A. First Roots
1. Texas Gladden: "The Four Marys"
Texas Gladden is from the mountains of Virginia, and recorded this selection in 1941 for folklorist Alan Lomax (who considered Gladden America's "finest traditional ballad singer"). In the previous version, "Mary Hamilton had a wee wain [baby] / To the highest man in the toon," which presumably refers to the King (though in some variants it is the Prince). In Gladden's version, no mention is made of an illegitimate birth, in fact no reason for Mary to murder her child is given. It is common for American versions of British ballads to omit sexual references (especially taboos such as incest and illegitimacy), as well as supernatural elements (e.g., ghosts and miracles). The tendency to avoid sexual content has led to the existence of many ballad texts in which someone murders their brother, sister, sweetheart, or child for no given reason. These two versions of "Mary Hamilton," one from each side of the Atlantic, have the same basic melody, though some variants of this ballad are performed to different tunes.
Word has come from the
Down came the old Queen,
"Oh, Mary, put on your
robe so black
"Oh, Mary, put on your
robe so black
She didn't put on her robe
She didn't put on her robe
As she passed through the
As she passed through the
As she went up the
"Oh, bring to me some
red, red wine,
"Oh tie a napkin o'er
"Oh tie a napkin o'er
"Last night I washed
the old Queen's feet
"Last night there were
2. Tommy Jarrell (fiddle) Fred Cockerham: "Soldier's Joy"
The five string banjo and the fiddle represent the most popular duo in the South Eastern United States. The fiddle primarily carries the melody, while the banjo reinforces it and provides rhythmic support. Both instruments contribute to the drone-like sound which underlies this very American musical expression. The banjo Fred is playing is simple in construction and has no frets which allows for a sliding bluesy sound.
The tune Soldier's Joy was originally a very popular hornpipe in Ireland and Scotland. Hornpipes are common in Old Time banjo and fiddling traditions but since the associated dance was lost in America they are played at the faster tempos preferred by cloggers.
3. Reverend C. H. Savage and Group: "Let Me Ride"
Recorded by the great folksong collector, Alan Lomax, in 1941, this is an example from the African-American tradition of spirituals. Lomax recorded the Reverend C. H. Savage with a small congregation of singers following a powerful service in Savage's church. The singers gathered around to sing spirituals they remembered from their youth, some of which were old enough to be related to ring shouts (religious gatherings of African Americans during slavery). The Reverend relates that he remembers his grandmother singing this song around the fireplace in his youth.
The religious intensity of the song is evident in this recording, and is a common characteristic of Southern religious music in both white and black communities. Some of the verses are sung in a kind of call and response, in which Savage calls a phrase likes "Oh Jesus" to which the congregation replies "Oh let me ride". The promise of heavenly reward may have been one of the features of Christianity that was so attractive to the African slave populations that adopted the religion in America. The glory promised in Heaven was seen as reward for the sufferings endured as slaves.
B. The 19th Century
4. Stephen Foster : "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"
Stephen Collins Foster, born in Pennsylvania in 1826, was probably the first person in the United States to make his living as a fulltime professional songwriter. His repertoire included various popular song styles to which he was exposed as a young man -- Italian light opera, Irish and German songs, and "Ethiopian" Minstrel songs. Foster was a master at creating the simple but compelling melodies and texts that later popular composers would refer to as "hooks" (i.e., the basic idea or motif that "hooks" the listener's ear). Although Foster was not the most financially successful popular song composer of the mid-19th century, he was certainly the most influential.
"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" is an example of Foster's sentimental "Irish" style. It is a prototypical example of the AABA form that would become the dominant framework for popular song in the early 20th century.
5. Charles K. Harris : "After the Ball"
Charles K. Harris was a self-taught banjo player from Wisconsin who could not write music and, like many songwriters of the late 19th century, dictated his melodies to a professional musician, who put them down on paper. "After the Ball," popularized during the 1890s by touring lyric theatre companies and by John Philip Sousa's band, was the first American popular song to surpass the five-million mark in sheet-music sales. Its success helped to stimulate the emergence of dozens of small music publishing firms around the turn of the century.
"After the Ball" has three long verses and a refrain. The verses play a dramatic function, establishing the narrative theme of the lyric. The refrain, in a faster tempo, is a repeated phrase ("the hook" of the song). This distinction between the dramatic verse and the sung refrain (often regarded as "the song") became increasingly important in the early 20th century. The refrain of "After the Ball" represents the last burst of popularity of the waltz song, a form which had produced large sheet-music sales in the 1890s, and was a staple of the touring lyric theater and vaudeville productions which succeeded minstrel shows as the most popular form of public entertainment in the late 19th century.
C. Vaudeville / Ragtime
6. Sophie Tucker [NYC, 1911]: "Some of These Days" (Shelton Brooks)
Until phonograph recording, radio, and the talking picture supplanted them in the late 1920s, live performers were crucial to the process of making the public familiar with new songs. Vaudeville, the successor to minstrelsy, provided the music trade for many years with its chief means of exploitation. Sophie Tucker was typical of her generation of popular singers: a Russian Jewish immigrant who got her start in vaudeville, often performing in blackface. By 1911, she was one of the biggest draws on the vaudeville circuit. Tucker's vocal style clearly indicates the influence of black music, via ragtime, on mainstream popular song, e.g., syncopation of the melody, vocal "breaks." This song, written by an African American composer, reflects changes occuring in American popular music during the first decades of the 20th century. Its form is ABCD, with each section introducing new melodic ideas, avoiding the strophic forms of much previous popular music. The band plays a slow march-like 4/4 rhythm.
7. Bert Williams [NYC, 1913]: "Nobody" (B. Williams)
African American performers also worked in vaudeville, often playing roles derived from the 19th century minstrel show. Bert Williams (1876-1922) was one of the most popular comedians during the first decade of the 20th century. With his partner George Walker he began to work the vaudeville circuit in 1895, and later starred in all-black theatrical productions such as Abyssinia (1906). Williams wrote many compositions, the most popular of which was "Nobody" (1905), a wry, fatalistic song of complaint. Although "Nobody" is historically related to the racist "coon" songs initially popularized by minstrel performers, William's tragicomic performance lends human dignity to the character of the narrator. While on the surface the song played to stereotypes of black life held by many whites, African American listeners interpreted the lyric on another level: as a lament about the injustices of a racially segregated society.
8. Scott Joplin [NYC, 1916]: "Maple Leaf Rag" (Joplin)
Ragtime was one of the first internationally popular genres in popular music, sweeping the world from around 1897 to 1930. The origins of ragtime music cannot be dated precisely, although it is generally believed that it co-evolved with the "cakewalk," a strutting dance step used by minstrel performers. Ragtime also appears to have been infuenced by Latin American rhythms, particularly the Cuban habanera. Ragtime music features regular march-like patterns in the bass and syncopated ("ragged") rhythms in the melody. This performance, recorded on a paper piano roll, is by Scott Joplin (1869-1917), the best-known ragtime composer. "Maple Leaf Rag" was recorded by the U.S. Marine Band and sold over a million copies in sheet music. The form of "Maple Leaf Rag", which presents a succession of new melodic and harmonic materials, is related to march music.
Form: A-A-B-B-A-C-C-D-D (16 measures each)
D. Tin Pan Alley
9. Al Jolson [NYC, 1921]: "April Showers" (DeSylva and Silvers)
Al Jolson (1886-1950), film, stage, and recording superstar of the 1910s and '20s, made use of performance techniques derived from vaudeville, including blackface makeup and minstrelsy songs. A Lithuanian immigrant brought up in the Jewish ghetto, he was one of the most important forces in 20th century American popular singing. Jolson's vaudevillean vocal style, declamatory rather than lyrical, strongly influenced other singers. His wide appeal was further reinforced by a starring role in the first "talkie" film, The Jazz Singer (1927). This song, from a successful musical comedy (Bombo), has a 32-bar ABAC form.
10. Gene Austin [NYC, 1927]: "My Blue Heaven" (Whiting and Donaldson)
Gene Austin (1900-1972), unlike Sophie Tucker or Al Jolson, developed an intimate vocal technique depending upon on electrical recording and the microphone. His career began in the mid-1920s, and he was one of the first singers to be called a "crooner." 32-bar AABA form.
11. Bing Crosby [NYC, 1932]: "How Deep is the Ocean" (Irving Berlin)
Irving Berlin (born 1888 in Russia) was one of the most prolific of Tin Pan Alley composers. His best-known songs include "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Blue Skies," "Cheek to Cheek," "White Christmas," and "God Bless America." Bing Crosby (b. in Tacoma in 1904) was the first singer to master the use of the microphone and was important in introducing into the mainstream of American popular music an African-American conception of song as a lyrical extension of speech. He was the most popular singer of his generation; sales of his records have been estimated at more than 300 million. 32-bar ABAB form.
12. Ethel Merman : "I Got Rhythm" (Gershwin/Gershwin)
Written by George and Ira Gershwin, "I Got Rhythm" is more than just a standard Tin Pan Alley song. It is an example of the influence jazz music had on the music of the Gershwins. Structurally, the song is in a typical AABA' form, common to Tin Pan Alley songs. The influence of jazz is heard in the highly B>syncopated rhythm of the chorus. When the singer sings "I Got Rhythm", the beats do not fall on downbeats, but rather on offbeats, the beats that are between the downbeats. This creates an impression that the rhythm is slightly out of place and serves to create a feeling of movement and excitement. "Playing off the beat" is common in African-American music and in many other genres of music.
Ethel Merman first sang this song in 1930 for the stage show "Girl Crazy". It was a sensation and went on to be recorded by numerous artists, including Merman herself. This recording was made in 1947 but captures the style and arrangement of the 1930 stage version. Merman's singing is similar to Al Jolson's in the power and clarity of her vocal performance. This may be because broadway shows were not electrically amplified until the latter half of the twentieth century, requiring a singer to "belt" out songs to large audiences. Merman's singing shows the lasting importance of stage musicals and the style of singing associated with them.
Dance Orchestras (1910s-1930s)
13. Europe's Society Orchestra [NYC, 1914]: "Castle House Rag" (James Reese Europe)
James Reese Europe (1881-1919) organized the first band specializing in syncopated dance music in New York in 1910. He was hired as musical director by ballroom dance stars Irene and Vernon Castle in 1913, and signed a Victor recording contract in 1914, the year of this recording. Europe was the first black bandleader to make recordings, and the first to introduce syncopated dance music to France (with his 369th Infantry Band). Europe was popular enough to be greeted by a million people in New York upon his return from France.
Europe composed and arranged this ensemble rag. The instrumentation includes cellos and violins as well as brass band instruments. This performance is regarded as the earliest recorded example of collective orchestral ragtime extemporization. "Castle House Rag" is both an East Coast parallel to New Orleans jazz style and a precursor of later developments in syncopated dance band music.
14. Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra : "Side by Side"
Paul Whiteman brought jazz-tinged ballroom music into the musical mainstream during the so-called "Jazz Age." Whiteman, whose public relations title was "The King of Jazz," popularized a style of mildly syncopated dance band music. When World War I began, Whiteman secured a post as a musical director with the navy, organizing a forty-piece band that was the precursor of his later civilian groups. His first recording for Victor was "Whispering," which sold a phenomenal 1,800,000 copies in 1920. The rich arrangements played by the Whiteman band were widely imitated by both black and white bands. Between 1920 and 1934 he had 28 #1 hit records.
"Side by Side" is typical of Whiteman's sound during the late 1920s. The vocal is by the Rhythm Boys, a trio which included Bing Crosby. The band plays in a two-beat feel, and the ensemble texture is smooth. The "cutesy" vocal arrangement is also typical of the period. The Paul Whiteman group included Bix Beiderbecke (an Indiana-born trumpeter generally regarded as the first important white jazz musician), trombonist Tommy and saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey, and pioneer dance band arranger Bill Chalis.
15. Don Azpiazú & his Havana Casino Orchestra : "El Manicero / The Peanut Vendor" (Moises Simon)
Music played by Latin bands like Xavier Cugat's Waldorf Astoria Orchestra and Don Azpiazu's Havana Casino Orchestra was intended mainly to accompany ballroom adaptations of Latin American dances. "El Manicero" was composed by Moises Simon, a Cuban pianist, as a rumba. Though rumbas are traditionally dances associated with complex African drumming systems involving intricate interactions between drummer and dancer, the name rumba has become attached to the kind of Cuban music that was popularized in America in the 1920s and 30s. Much of this music would be more accuretly referred to as son. American rumbas were intended to present Cuban music as exotic, in tourist shows and in American clubs and movies.
In "El Manicero", each percussion instrument plays a rhythmic pattern that is carefully arranged to interlock with the rhythmic patterns of the other percussion instruments. The percussion is led by the rhythm of the claves which can be heard in the opening of this track. Claves are two sticks of dense wood that make a loud "clack" when struck together. This style of rhythm in which various instruments interlock rhythmically and are led by one loud, high-pitched percussion instrument is very common in African drumming from the West Coast of Africa and in African music somewhat generally.
16. Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB) : "Tiger Rag"
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB) was the first jazz group to record, the offer having been previously declined in 1915 by New Orleans cornetist Freddie Keppard's all-black jazz band because Keppard was afraid other players might steal his style through the recordings. The ODJB were a 5 person strong all-white jazz band hailing from New Orleans, but trying to make a name for themselves in the North. They were not immediately popular and audiences had no idea how to understand their music. They were led by cornetist Nic Larocca, a son of a Sicilian immigrant to New Orleans, a city known for its hatred of Italians and its vicious race riot against them in 1891.
The ODJB players were young kids, the oldest being 28, eager to make a name for themselves and to get out of the grinding poverty of New Orleans. They did not improvise, as most New Orleans jazz bands did, but rather worked off of arrangements that sounded similar to African-American bands of the time. None of them were great players, but their energy and spirit were infectious, and their recordings, the first of which were made in 1917, were wildly popular.
In this recording of the ever popular Tiger Rag, listen to the interplay between the instruments, and listen for their use of "stop-time". Stop-time occurs when the instruments stop their continual playing and move to playing choppy chords. As ODJB does it and as King Oliver would as well, this stop-time served to emphasize solos from one of the players.
After touring England, the band broke up and Larocca had a nervous breakdown, returning to the construction business and foresaking music. He was to become famous in later years for his insistence that African-Americans had nothing to do with the creation of jazz, which he insisted was achieved entirely by white marching bands and by the ODJB.
"Race" Records and "Hillbilly" Music: 1920s-1930s
1. King Joe Oliver's Creole Jazz Band: "Dippermouth Blues" [Richmond, IN, 1923]
The music that came to be known as jazz developed in New Orleans around 1900. It drew upon a variety of sources, including white and black popular song traditions, ragtime, brass band music, black church hymns and funeral dirges, field hollers, and blues. Since the activities of recording companies were largely confined to large cities in the North and Midwest before the late 1920s, there is limited evidence as to what early New Orleans jazz sounded like. The first recording with the term "jazz" on its label was made by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a white group, in 1917. The ODJB recording exemplfies the influence of African-American musical sensibilities on white musicians, and started a jazz craze among middle-class whites, but it is not a good example of New Orleans style.
The first representative recordings of jazz were made by the cornettist King Joe Oliver (1885-1938) and his Creole Jazz Band in 1923. Like many other southern black musicians, Oliver moved north after World War One in order to make a better living. In 1923 he summoned the brilliant young musician Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) to Chicago to play second cornet in the band, which also included Honoré Dutrey on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano, Baby Dodds on drums, and, on this cut, Bill Johnson on banjo and vocals.
The King Oliver band was a collection of individuals who knew each other's playing so well that they could perform a kind of polyphonic group improvisation. In New Orleans style, the trumpet or cornet states the melody (with embellishments), the clarinet improvises a counter-melody above and around the trumpet, and the trombone improvises a simpler melody, often hitting the roots (bass notes) of the chords below the trumpet. Solos were usually backed up by riffs (repeated patterns) played by the other instruments. In the earliest recordings, it is difficult to find a place where all of the instruments are not playing some role.
Form: 12-bar blues.
2. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five : "West End Blues"
By 1925, Louis Armstrong had left King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in Chicago and Fletcher Henderson's band in New York and was ready to strike out on his own. His fiery solos and unbelievable use of the upper reaches of the cornet and trumpet were becoming known and he was achieving stardom through his playing.
Okeh Records agreed to record him and any band he had in 1925, and Armstrong assembled four of his friends, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, Lil Hardin on piano, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, and Kid Ory on trombone to record the first of his Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. Absolutely seminal in the history of jazz, these recordings were a watershed in his career and a turning point for jazz in general. Moving beyond the aesthetic of "collective improvisation", these recordings focused on Armstrong as a soloist. Jazz was thus turned from a collective ensemble art to an art that focused on the ability of soloists to improvise off of known melodies. Armstrong also introduced scat singing to jazz and his gruff singing style and clever phrasing influenced many jazz singers that came after him.
The solo that opens "West End Blues" is a feat of great technical mastery and has stumped and discouraged many great musicians since. This recording is from 1928, after the original members of his Hot Five had been replaced with new players. Armstrong really comes out as the star soloist in this, though other members of the band get solos as well. After the introductory solo, one would expect a blazing tune, but Armstrong chooses to cool down the tempo while never laying off the rhythmic pressure. The result is a slow-burning song of great rhythmic intensity despite the crawl that it moves at. His scat singing can also be heard in the middle of the piece.
3. Bessie Smith (1898-1937): "St. Louis Blues" (W.C. Handy); [1925, New York]
The first appearance of the blues on gramophone records was the so-called "classic blues" style, performed by black female artists such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tenneessee, and began recording in 1923. She was stylistically a blues singer even when performing novelty and vaudeville numbers, and had a majestic voice and imposing presence. Smith sold millions of records, performed in New York stage shows, and attained a celebrity comparable to modern popular singers; she was the centerpiece of Columbia's "race record" catalog. On this recording she is accompanied by New Orleans jazz virtuoso Louis Armstrong on cornet.
African-American composer and music publisher W.C. Handy (b. Florence, Alabama) was largely responsible for popularizing blues among middle-class white Americans during the 1910s and 20s. Handy's "blues" were actually ragtime-like compositions with several themes and blues tinges. "St. Louis Blues," his most successful piece, is an excellent example of the incorporation of selected elements of southern blues styles by professional popular composers. Although Handy complained about the monotony of rural blues, cleaned-up, commercialized blues were actually often more predictable, avoiding the irregularities of "downhome" performances.
Form: Ragtime-like structure with three themes; A, a 12-bar blues ("I hate to see..."; "Feelin' tomorrow..."); B, 16-bar section in minor key ("St. Louis woman..."); and C, another 12-bar blues ("I got those St. Louis Blues...").
4. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey [Chicago, 1928]: "Black Eye Blues"
Called "The Mother of the Blues", Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was a seminal artist in the history of blues and jazz. Born Gertrude Pridgett in 1886, Ma Rainey got her start singing with The Rabbit Foot Minstrels, a popular traveling minstrel show in the South which also starred her husband, William "Pa" Rainey. Ma Rainey made her first recording for Paramount Records in 1923 as part of their efforts to record black artists for "race" records. Targeted to African Americans, these "race" records proved a lucrative market for record companies, and many early blues and classic blues singers were recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. J. Mayo Williams, a black talent scout, was responsible for making Paramount Records one of the earliest recording companies to capitalize on the "race" record market, and was responsible for discovering Ma Rainey. Rainey's distinctive and powerful vocal style was matched by her commanding presence as a performer. Her influence on the classic blues style, in which blues were melded with Tin Pan Alley and early jazz influences, can be heard in the similar singing style of Bessie Smith, the most famous classic blues singer.
In this song, "Black Eye Blues", recorded in 1928, Rainey presents a powerful perspective on domestic abuse. Though not an uncommon subject in blues songs, her portrayal of an angry and vengeful victim of domestic abuse is rare indeed. Female classic blues singers like Rainey and Bessie Smith presented images of powerful and opinionated women, and when Rainey sings of Miss Nancy's wrath at her abusive husband, this power and authority is certainly present. Rainey is accompanied by "Georgia Tom" Dorsey on piano and Tampa Red on guitar, two black vaudeville/classic blues artists.
5. Meade "Lux" Lewis: "Honky Tonk Train Blues" [Chicago, 1927]
"Boogie-woogie" or "barrelhouse" piano blues originated in the border zone of Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, where pianists entertained men who worked in the lumber and turpertine camps. The style had to be played loudly to be heard, and pianists had to have great strength and endurance. Boogie-woogie piano style involves setting up an ostinato bass pattern in the left hand, and playing improvised passages with the right hand. As in ragtime compositions, much of the interest was created by the rhythmic interplay between the left and right hands. However, the barrelhouse style was generally not a written-down form, and was more closely linked than ragtime to African-American musical sensibilities.
In this performance, the most famous of boogie-woogie compositions, the barrelhouse blues master Meade "Lux" Lewis creates an evocation of a train in motion. Much of the piece's original meaning had to do with the significance of trains and travel to southern black people in the 1920s and 30s. Some of the rhythmic effects are created by playing three attacks in the right hand in the same time that it takes to play two attacks in the left. This two-against-three technique creates a feeling of elasticity in time (an important component of "swing"), and is a common technique in some kinds of West African instrumental music.
Form: 12-bar blues.
6. Robert Robert Johnson [San Antonio, 1936]: "Come On In My Kitchen" (R. Johnson)
Robert Johnson (b. Hazelhurst, Mississippi) has become one of the most famous and iconic figures of the Delta blues. Charismatic and larger than life, he was a legend in his own time and after. Johnson was a guitar virtuoso, making great use of the slide or bottleneck technique, and had a vocal quality which was lighter and more nasal than most Delta bluesmen. Johnson traveled extensively, both in the South, and in the North up to Canada. He recorded for the Vocalion label in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, and 1937 in Dallas, Texas. He recorded 29 songs altogether, of which some alternate takes have also been found. He died tragically at the young age of twenty-four, poisoned by a jealous audience member.
As a songwriter, Johnson was without peer. His haunting imagery and poetic genius are a large reason for his lasting appeal. Furthermore, the emotional intensity of Johnson's singing gives his songs a lot of power. In his song, "Come On In My Kitchen", Johnson renders a strikingly intense performance, from his opening of quiet humming to his declarations of "Oh, can't you hear the wind howlin'?". The visual imagery of this song is also very striking, as Johnson's tableau of images jump into the mind.
Verse 1. Humming
Chorus: You better come on
2. Ah, the woman I love
3. Oh-ah, she's gone
Spoken: Oh, can't you hear
the wind howl 'n' all?
4. When a woman gets in trouble
5. Winter time's comin'
7. Robert Johnson [San Antonio, 1936]: "Cross Road Blues" (R. Johnson)
Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues" is one of his best-known songs. It was famously covered by Eric Clapton and Cream in 1969, and has been covered by other musicians as well. This song speaks to the legend that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to be able to play and sing as well as he did. Johnson's mentor, Son House, who knew Johnson when he was a kid, recalls that Johnson originally played harmonica, and that his guitar playing was quite poor. Johnson left town at some point in his youth and disappeared for six months to a year. When he returned, he had become an amazing guitarist, a feat that greatly surprised Son House. What Johnson did in this mystery period of his life is anyone's guess, though the legend that he went down to a crossroad to sell his soul has become the most popular answer. Stories about crossroads as magical or supernatural places are common in many cultures, and these stories in African American culture may have some root in transplanted African religions such as Vodun. It has even been suggested that Johnson was inducted into the Vodun priesthood during this mystery period. It may also have been that Johnson simply left town and spent his time diligently practising everything he'd absorbed from listening to Son House,
Johnson himself capitalized on his mystique, writing songs like "Me and the Devil Blues" and "Hellhounds on My Trail". Whether he believed it himself or not, the supernatural imagery of these songs, together with his intensely emotional performances, leave us with some of the most eery and powerful music ever recorded.
1. I went to the crossroad
3. Standin' at the crossroad, baby
8. Blind Lemon Jefferson : "Black Snake Moan" (Jefferson)
Blind Lemon Jefferson was the first southern country blues recording star, and represents the Texas-Arkansas style of blues. Jefferson first recorded in 1926, and was one of the most influential blues performers, his recordings being copied more or less exactly for several decades after their release. Jefferson's recordings were advertised as being old fashioned blues at the time, contrasting with the more modern recordings of "classic" blues singers.
Jefferson's song "That Black Snake Moan" is an example of the flexibility of the blues form. It is a blues song because of its use of blue notes (notes that do not fit into the Western scale) and the form of the text (AAB). It does not have a heavy rhythmic pulse and it does not follow the 12-bar blues progression. This is also an example of the use of sexual imagery in blues. A very prevalent practice, many blues songs use double entendres, seemingly unrelated images that can be seen as very sexual, to portray graphic sexuality. The blues singer, Bo Carter, practically made his career off of recordings of sexual blues like "Please Warm My Weiner" and "Banana in Your Fruit Basket". In this case, the black snake is clearly a metaphor for the penis, as Jefferson sings:
Aay, ain't got no mama now
Mmmm, black snake crawlin'
in my room.
Mmmm, black snake crawlin'
in my room.
Oow, that must be the bedbug
- you know a chinch [small insect] can't
Oow, that must be the bedbug
- you know a chinch [small insect] can't
Mama, that's all right,
mama, that's all right for you.
Mama, that's all right,
mama, that's all right for you.
Mmm, what's the matter now?
Mmm, what's the matter now?
Well, wonder where is the
black snake gone?
Well, wonder where is the
black snake gone?
9. Nehemiah "Skip" James: "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" (N. James)
Nehemiah "Skip" James was one of the most creative and innovative of the Delta blues singers. Born and raised in Mississippi, James' father was a Baptist preacher, giving him a connection to religion that remained throughout James' life. James played both piano, which he had learned as a child in church, and guitar, being versatile on both. He was a gifted songwriter and a talented arranger, skilled at creating an overall sound to his music that was distinctly his own. He was flexible in his use of the blues idiom, often not using the 12-bar blues form. All of his early recordings (18 in number) are from one three-day recording session in Grafton, Wisconsin. James never saw any money from these recordings, as the company that recorded him went out of business shortly afterwards.
"Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" is one of the few blues songs from the Delta to make a hard social statement. It is a dirge about poverty, brought on by the Great Depression, haunting in its tone and frightening in its lyrics. The song was later recorded by the young blues singer Chris Thomas King in the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" by the Coen brothers. Skip James was rediscovered in the 1960s by blues fans and was introduced to the concert stage at the Newport Festival of 1964. He recorded a number of new albums before passing away in 1969.
Hard time here and
everywhere you go
And the people are driftin'
from door to door
And the people are driftin'
from door to door
Hear me tell you people,
just before I go
Hear me tell you people,
just before I go
Well, you hear me singin' my
Well, you hear me singin' my
If I ever get off this
If I ever get off this
No-no, no-no, I'll never get down this low no more
And you say you had money,
you better be sure
And you say you had money,
you better be sure
Sing this song and I ain't
gonna sing no more
Sing this song and I ain't
gonna sing no more
10. Memphis Jug Band: "Cocaine Habit" (Will Shade); [Memphis, 1930]
Memphis, like St. Louis and Atlanta, was a crossroads in the black migration from country to city, south to north. The populations of these cities increased dramatically from 1910-1930, and each served as a crucible for distinctive blues styles. Memphis blues was closely related to the Mississippi Delta style, but the urban environment, in which migrants and musics from various areas were thrown together, led to the development of new styles. Jug bands were flexible ensembles, often featuring kazoo, jug, harmonica, guitar, and homemade one-string washtub bass. These bands provided work for some of the best black musicians in the city, and provided an alternative to blues, mixing elements of minstrelsy, medicine shows, blues and vaudeville traditions.
11. A.C. "Eck" Robertson and Henry Gilliland [NYC, 1922] : "Sallie Gooden" (Traditional)
This is the first documented commercial recording of a Southern white folk performer. The so-called hillbilly music market (a southern white parallel to the race record market aimed at blacks) began in 1922 when A.C. "Eck" Robertson of Amarillo, Texas and Henry Gilliland of Virginia, hopped a train to New York. They showed up at Victor Records' office, one dressed in a Confederate uniform and the other in a cowboy suit, carrying two fiddles and demanding to be recorded. To get rid of them, a Victor employee sat them down at an acoustic microphone and recorded their versions of "Sallie Gooden" and "The Arkansas Traveller." The record was issued and sold well enough in the South for Victor and other companies to begin sending talent scouts out in search of other hillbilly performers. On this recording Eck Robertson plays a series of variations on a simple Anglo-American folk theme, an ability he had honed in fiddle contests throughout the South.
12. Vernon Dalhart [NYC, 1924]: "The Prisoner's Song" (Guy Massey)
This was the first hillbilly hit, a million-seller that contributed to the success of the fledgling industry. "The Prisoner's Song" is a composite of earlier song fragments. After the success of this record, Dalhart (b. Marion T. Slaughter in Jefferson, Texas) forsook the popular and light opera music that had been his main repertoire, and recorded only hillbilly songs. Dalhart recorded under many pseudonyms for almost every record label in the country, and did more to popularize early country music than any performer except Jimmie Rodgers.
13. Carter Family : "Gospel Ship"
Born in the isolated foothills of the Clinch Mountains of Virginia, the Carters were one of the most important groups in the history of country music. A.P. "Doc" Carter (1891-1960) collected and arranged the music, and sang bass. His wife Sara (1899-1979) sang lead and took the majority of vocal solos, and sister-in-law Maybelle (1909-1978) sang harmony, played steel guitar and autoharp, and developed an influential guitar style, in which she played melody on the bass strings and brushed the treble strings for rhythm. The trio first recorded in Bristol, Tennessee in 1927, the same week as country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers (example 13).
"Gospel Ship", a traditional song, demonstrates the importance of sacred music in southern culture. Religious songs were popular sellers among recordings of the time.
14. Jimmie Rodgers [Atlanta, 1928]: "Waiting for a Train" (J. Rodgers)
If the Carter Family represented the stability of home, family, and traditional values, Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) conveyed the image of the wanderer, a man who had seen the world and tasted its temptations. These two images still continue to dominate country music lyrics. The ex-railroad brakeman from Meridian, Mississippi celebrated the allure of the open road and chronicled the lives of men who forsook the benefits of a settled existence: ramblers, rounders, hoboes, gamblers, convicts, and footloose lovers. Rodger's devil-may-care personality and his early death from tuberculosis contributed to his charismatic mystique, a sort of white parallel to black bluesman Robert Johnson. He was country music's first recording star.
His style was strongly influenced by Afro-American blues and field hollers, as well as by Anglo-American folk songs, hillbilly music, and sentimental popular ballads. "Waiting for a Train" is an adaptation of an old folk song. It is a hobo song, and its dour mood, reinforced by Rodger's lonesome yodel, seemed to listeners to presage the Great Depression. This was Rodger's biggest hit. He introduced many new instruments and styles into country music: on this recording we hear a Hawaiian steel guitar, a jazz band, Jimmie's famous train whistle imitation, and his unique "blue yodel."
15. Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans [Chicago, 1936]: "Great Speckled Bird" (Reverend Guy Smith)
Roy Acuff was born in 1903 in the mountains of east Tennessee. His professional career began in 1933 when he joined a travelling "medicine show." He was the dominant country music star of the World War Two era, and subsequently hosted the Grand Ole Opry, ran for governor of Tennessee, and had a minor hit in 1974, making him the oldest performer to have a record on the charts in the history of American popular music. His sound featured a heartfelt, earnest approach to singing, and the dominance of the Dobro (acoustic steel guitar with a metal resonator), played by Beecher Kirby, a.k.a. "Bashful Brother Oswald."
16. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys [Ft. Worth, Texas, 1940]: "New San Antonio Rose" (B. Wills)
Western Swing, another style of country music which reached its peak during the Depression, was a dance-hall music which combined cowboy ballads, hillbilly music, blues, and jazz, with touches of Mexican and Cajun music. Bob Wills (b. 1905 in west Texas) is regarded as the father of the style. His first bands were named after radio sponsors (the Light Crust Doughboys). During an 8-year stay in Tulsa, Wills established and refined his sound, drawing heavily upon the peripatetic "territory" swing bands of the southwest. The core of the band is fiddle, guitar, steel guitar, banjo, drums and string bass; from the big swing bands he incorporated piano, saxophones and clarinets, and trumpets. This song became an even bigger hit when crooner Bing Crosby recorded it in 1941. Note the electric pedal steel guitar, a modern version of the bottleneck guitar style pioneered by Afro-American and Hawaiian musicians.
Swing Era (1935-1945) and Post-War Popular Music
A. Swing Bands
1. Benny Goodman and his Orchestra : "King Porter" (Music, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton; arranger, Fletcher Henderson)
Benny Goodman was born in a Chicago ghetto in 1909, the son of a Russian immigrant. He made his first records under his own name in 1927, and worked as a free-lance musician during the Depression years. Goodman's career as a bandleader was boosted by wealthy promoter John Hammond, who also helped Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Bruce Springsteen. Hammond arranged the Goodman band's first recording dates and set up the purchase of a group of Fletcher Henderson's best arrangements. Although initial audience reaction was not enthusiastic, the band went on a national tour in 1935, culminating in spectacular successes in California. The Goodman band had appeared regularly on a national live radio show called "Let's Dance"; because they always played last, more West coasters were up to hear them, and the band had become very popular.
This band started the swing craze, and Goodman became known as the "King of Swing." Goodman's band was the first to give current Tin Pan Alley hits a jazzy treatment. It was also the first white band to include black musicians, beginning with pianist Teddy Wilson. "King Porter" was first recorded by Fletcher Henderson's band in 1932 as the "New King Porter Stomp." Goodman's success was in part based upon emulation of the arranging techniques and swinging pulse of black dance bands. The riffs and call-and-response patterns between reeds and brass are well-rehearsed, and the rhythm section plays a steady 4-beat pulse with emphasis on the second and fourth beats. Goodman plays the clarinet solo, Bunny Berigan the trumpet solo. Gene Krupa is the drummer.
2. Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra : "The New East St. Louis Toodle-O" (Music and arrangement, Edward Kennedy Ellington)
Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974) was a major force in twentieth century American music. Born in Washington, D.C., he came from a urban middle-class background. His first band, the Washingtonians, played syncopated dance music in New York in the early 1920s. His band held engagements at a number of New York clubs, most notably the Cotton Club in Harlem (1927-1931). Ellington's highly individualistic approach to writing for big band included the creation of rich tone colors (often by writing for unusual combinations of instruments, or putting instruments in extreme registers) and dissonant chord voicings. Another hallmark of the Ellington style was his practice of writing to emphasize the strengths of particular members of his band, some of whom were with him for half a century.
"The New East St. Louis Toodle-O" has an AABA form, played twice through. The plunger muted trumpet solo is by Cootie Williams. Notice Ellington's creative use of instrumental tones, including the plunger reponses by the trumpet section during the first bridge (B section), and Barney Bigard's liquid clarinet responses to the trombone-led variations in the second chorus, followed by his domination of the bridge.
3. Count Basie and his Orchestra : "One O'Clock Jump" (Music by Count Basie)
Kansas City, a frontier town which served as an entertainment center for cattlemen, farmers, and railroad men, was the crucible for a big band style based primarily upon riffs. Influenced by recordings of New Orleans jazz and New York bands such as Fletcher Henderson, black musicians in Kansas City began in the 1920s to develop a distinctive style of dance music based upon blues and the boogie-woogie piano tradition.
The band of William "Count" Basie, firmly in the Kansas City tradition, developed the use of the "head riff" in call-and-response format between reeds and brass sections into a fine art. Arrangements were often worked out in an ad hoc fashion, with individual players suggesting riff patterns which were then picked up and harmonized by other players in a section. The compelling swing of this recording is generated by Walter Page's "walking" bass, the drumming of Jo Jones, and the 4-beat pulse of Freddie Green's guitar. The tenor saxophone solo is played by Lester Young, whose cool style was to influence a later generation of jazz musicians. On this recording, listen for Basie's carefully considered piano introduction, followed by a series of short horn riffs. The technique of riffing in effect turns the whole band into a rhythm section, and generates a great deal of momentum.
4. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra : "In the Mood" (Music, Joe Garlan; lyrics, Andy Razaf. Arranged by Glenn Miller, et al, based on an Eddie Durham arrangement)
From 1939 until its leader joined the Army in 1942, The Glenn Miller Orchestra was the most popular dance band in the world. The Miller band broke records for record sales and concert attendance, and has become the quintessential symbol of the Swing Era for many listeners. Born in Iowa in 1904, Miller had worked as a trombonist on numerous recordings before launching his own band in 1937. Like other bandleaders, his popularity was boosted by live radio broadcasts from hotels and dance halls. Glenn Miller developed a style that appealed not only to urban audiences but small-town, midwestern audiences as well. Though he died during World War Two, several versions of the Miller band are still touring the country, staffed by young players, and performing at big band revival concerts and dance halls.
"In the Mood," perhaps the best-known arrangement from the Swing Era, is a 12-bar blues with a 16-bar bridge. The blues phrase is based on a simple riff that had been used by many previous arrangers. Miller left room for some improvised solos in the middle, and added the famous fade-away suprise ending.
5. Ella Fitzgerald : "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" (Fitzgerald/Feldman); 
Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday often get set up in opposition to each other: To some people, you're either an Ella fan or a Billie fan. And if Billie is constructed as the Jazz Martyr, then Ella is sort of the elder stateswoman of jazz. While this is probably a false dichotomy, Ella certainly had better luck or at least more career stability than Billie. She got her start by winning one of the Apollo Theatre talent contests and then joined the Chick Webb Orchestra. She recorded "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" at age 17 while headlining for Webb. The song was Fitzgerald and Al Feldman's adaptation of the 1879 nursery rhyme and became an immediate hit with jazz fans. Upon Webb's death, Fitzgerald became the leader of his band at the young age of 23 before going solo. After initially floundering a bit on her own, Fitzgerald eventually became known for several things as a solo artist: her Songbook recordings of standards by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, and the Gershwins and her scat singing and vocalizing of bebop-style jazz. In this sense, Fitzgerald's joyful, melodic swing is quite different stylistically from Holiday's rhythmically oriented minimalism. And while Fitzgerald's life was certainly longer and not nearly so fraught with the drugs and tragedy as Holiday's, she had her share of health problems, including near-blindness and the amputation of both her legs, before her death in 1996. Fitzgerald herself often rebelled against her status as a shy, "ordinary" legend, saying it made her "feel like a relic."
6. Billie Holiday : "Strange Fruit" (Lewis Allen); [1939, New York]
Billie Holiday has, especially in recent years, been portrayed as something of a jazz martyr, a tragic victim of drugs, men, and bad luck. According to many sources, however, Holiday was a strong, independent woman who liked "operating like 'one of the boys'" and wanted to challenge the racial and gender restrictions placed on her. In keeping with that objective, Holiday's recording of "Strange Fruit" is often considered the first song of the Civil Rights Movement. The lyrics were written by a leftist Southern schoolteacher named Lewis Allan (rather than by Holiday herself, as legend would have it). They so graphically depict the horrors of lynching in the Jim Crow South that Holiday's label at the time, Columbia, refused to let her record the song, forcing her to go to the smaller label Commodore for this recording.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Holiday is famous for her artistic phrasing and unique timbre, both of which have established her recording of "Strange Fruit" (which has been recorded many times by other artists) as the most famous. Holiday's emotional rendering of the song and her perseverance in getting it recorded exemplify her strength as an artist.
7. Benny Goodman / Helen Forrest : Taking a Chance on Love (Vernon Duke)
"Taking A Chance on Love" is based on an arrangement by Fletcher Henderson. When Goodman was forming his first band, he had purchased a number of arrangements from the influential swing band leader Fletcher Henderson. Henderson's arrangements had given Goodman a unique sound and by the time of this recording, Henderson himself had joined Benny Goodman's orchestra.
"Taking A Chance On Love" was written by Vernon Duke, a Tin Pan Alley songsmith. Tin Pan Alley songs were an important part of the repertoire of many swing bands who arranged them into highly rhythmic swing tunes. This song has an AABA form, typical to the songs of Tin Pan Alley. The inclusion of a male or female crooner is also an important aspect of swing. In this case, the crooner is Helen Forrest, a popular female vocalist of the time.
B. Rhythm & Blues and Urban Blues
8. Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five : "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" (Vaughn Horton, Denver Darling, Milton Gabler)
Jordan was the most successful black recording artist of the post-War period, with a string of hit rhythm & blues records. This is a classic jump band, consisting of a three horn front line (alto sax, tenor sax, and trumpet) and rhythm section piano, guitar, bass, and drums. Jordan, who sang and played alto sax, was a polished entertainer, and his up-beat lyrics and smooth vocal quality provided urban black audiences with a alternative to the Delta-based Chicago blues style of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, etc. This recording was his first million-seller, a cross-over hit with both black and white audiences. Producer Milt Gabler was later involved in the production of Bill Haley and the Comets, a rock 'n'and roll band which drew upon the jump band sound.
9. Billy Ward and his Dominoes : "Have Mercy, Baby" (Billy Ward)
During the late 1940s and early 1950s the potential connection between the emotional approach of gospel singing and the personal experiences of adolescent singers occurred to various singers, record companies, and composers. The first deliberate use of gospel-trained singers in secular music seems to have been in 1950, when a New York gospel singing instructor, Billy Ward, formed a rhythm and blues group, the Dominoes, with four of his students. Ward's move into popular dance music was made all the more controversial by hits such as the provocative "Sixty-Minute Man." "Have Mercy Baby" was a #1 R&B; hit, a highly-charged, up-tempo shuffle, with an energized tenor saxophone solo, handclapping, and raucous shouting. The ending, with lead singer Clyde McPhatter wailing and crying, is suggestive of emotionialism found in many gospel settings. 12-bar blues form.
10. Muddy Waters: "Hoochie-Coochie Man" (Willie Dixon); [1953, Chicago]
Muddy Waters (b. Rolling Fork, Mississippi) was "discovered" in the Mississippi Delta by folk song collectors John and Alan Lomax, who recorded him for the Library of Congress. Two years later, in 1943, he left for Chicago, part of a massive movement of blacks from the South. In 1948 Muddy recorded for the Chess label, playing electric guitar with bass accompaniment by Big Crawford. Though still clearly rooted in Delta blues style, Muddy's early Chess recordings marked the beginning of electric blues in Chicago. Sold at first through record stores, groceries and barbershops in South Chicago, his records became popular both in the city and in the South, and launched Muddy's career.
The evolution of Muddy's band during the late 1940s and early 50s reflects changes in the Chicago electric blues band style. On this cut (one of Muddy's signature tunes) the band includes two electric guitars, piano, bass, drums, and amplified harmonica (pioneered by Muddy's sideman, Little Walter). Muddy, along with other southern migrants such as Howlin' Wolf, set the standard for Chicago urban blues during the post-War period. The electrification and expansion of blues ensembles helped musicians play dance music in noisy urban bars. In this song Muddy continues an old blues tradition: the bold assertion of personal power in the face of adverse circumstances:
"I got a black cat bone; I got a mojo too; I got a Johnnie Conkaroo; I'm gonna mess wit' you; I'm gonna make you girls; lead me by my hand; Then the world'll know; I'm a hoochie-coochie man"
Form: 16-bar blues (8 bars of "stop time," then 8 bars to finish).
11. Ruth Brown : "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" (Wallace, Lance, Singleton)
Ruth Brown was Atlantic Record's first major R and B star, beginning in 1949. Her father was a preacher and she sang spirituals as a child. Her recordings were sung with inflections that came from the church and the blues, and were in part aimed at the expanding white audience for R and B. Note Brown's use of upward vocal glides, and the prominence of the tambourine, associated with revivalist church meetings. This song is a 16-bar blues (like a 12-bar blues, but AAAB).
12. Joe Turner [NYC, 1954]: "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (Jesse Stone and Charles Calhoun)
Big Joe Turner's roots were also in the Kansas City shouting style, and he developed his technique singing with swing bands and boogie-woogie piano players. This is a 12-bar blues, with swing-band style riff patterns. In the mid-50s this song was covered by Bill Haley, who cleaned up the lyrics to produce a version acceptable to white-controlled AM radio stations (Turner's description of himself as "a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store" admiring "dresses the sun comes shinin' through" were censored). Turner's success was generally restricted to the black R & B audience; Haley's version was a big pop hit.
13. Big Mama Thornton : "Hound Dog"
13. Big Mama Thornton : "Hound Dog" (Lieber/Stoller)
Thornton was born the daughter of a Baptist minister in Alabama in 1926. She began her musical career in black vaudeville shows, playing different instruments and singing. Thornton's forceful personality and intimidating physical presence leant a distinctive feel to her music. She moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s and started working with Johnny Otis, a Greek-American nightclub owner and R & B promoter. Otis hired two white college students, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, to write a couple of songs for Thornton. After hearing her sing, they came up with the song "Hound Dog", which they felt fit her personality and singing style. The song became one of the top-selling R&B records of 1953 and was the first major songwriting hit for Leiber and Stoller, the songwriting team that would later write songs for Elvis and other rock 'n' roll stars.
"Hound Dog" is most famous today as an Elvis song, but Thornton's version is most definitely her own. From the first line: "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog", it is clear that Thornton owns this song. The combination of the lyrics and Thornton's delivery create a powerful image of female authority.
14. Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys [Nashville, 1947]: "It's Mighty Dark to Travel" (B. Monroe)
Bill Monroe (b. 1911 in the "bluegrass" region of Kentucky) is known as the father of bluegrass music. He was influenced early by his uncle (a fiddler) and a black guitarist, fiddler, and railroad worker named Arnold Schulz, who gave Monroe's music a distinctive bluesy quality. This recording is from a period when bluegrass was coalescing into the sound we know today, characterized by rapid tempos and virtuoso interplay among guitar, banjo and mandolin. This particular group, which included stars Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, is generally regarded as the archetypical bluegrass band, setting a style and standard of performance for subsequent groups to follow.
15. Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys : "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (E. Scruggs)
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs stand out as two of the seminal seminal figures in bluegrass music. Flatt was an excellent guitarist and singer, while Scruggs practically invented the bluegrass banjo technique. Both musicians had been members of Bill Monroe's bluegrass boys from 1945 until 1948, during which some of the best and most enduring bluegrass was recorded. The two left Monroe's band in 1948 to form their own band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, named after a Carter family song "Foggy Mountain Top". Fiddler Chubby Wise, one of the great early bluegrass fiddlers, joined their band at this time. The group played mostly songs, with a few instrumentals like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" thrown in.
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is the most famous example of Scruggs' five-string banjo technique. Inspired by a local banjo player from his home state of North Carolina named Snuffy Jenkins and possibly by the syncopated rhythms of ragtime, Scruggs picked the banjo using a three-fingered pattern of "rolls". His amazing level of virtuosity completely astounded audiences of the time and begat a lifetime of imitators and devotees. His banjo technique has become the definitive style of banjo playing used in bluegrass. This recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" was used in the Hollywood movie "Bonnie and Clyde" and served to catapult bluegrass into the mainstream.
16. The Soggy Bottom Boys (2000): "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow"
Directed by the quirky filmmaking team of Joel and Ethan Coen, the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" was an retelling of Homer's epic, the Odyssey, set in the Deep South during depression-era 1930s. Music was essential to the film, and the film's soundtrack, produced by T-Bone Burnett, read as a who's-who of bluegrass music. The soundtrack album won numerous Grammy awards and caused a national sensation for bluegrass. Curiously, the music featured in the movie is not typically bluegrass, it is rather an exploration into Depression-era country music, the roots of bluegrass. The movie was set in the early 1930s, a period that predates most bluegrass artists (Bill Monroe started playing bluegrass in the late 1930s). However, the use of prominent bluegrass artists to record the music and to play onscreen, vaulted bluegrass music back into the mainstream.
The song "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow" is one of the reasons for the popularity of the soundtrack. Sung by Dan Tyminski of Alison Kraus' Union Station band, this song has a long history of recordings. Dating from around 1913, Man of Constant Sorrow has been recorded many times over the years, most notably by the Stanley Brothers (Ralph Stanley won a Grammy for his song "Oh Death" in Oh Brother). Jerry Garcia also recorded Man of Constant Sorrow, and Bob Dylan has recently recorded it as well. The catchy rhythm and excellent lyrics made "Man of Constant Sorrow" a cornerstone to the movie.
17. Alison Kraus : "Every Time I Say Goodbye" (John Pennel)
Alison Kraus is one of the biggest names in bluegrass and country music today. A prodigy fiddler from an early age, she won her first fiddle contest at age 8 and secured a recording contract with Rounder Records by age 14. She is also an excellent vocalist and leads the stellar bluegrass band, Union Station. She is very talented at making crossover recordings: combining traditional bluegrass, modern country music, pop music, and collaborating with all kinds of musicians. Kraus and her band Union Station were featured prominently in the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", with guitarist Dan Tyminski from Union Station singing the lead on "Man Of Constant Sorrow", and Kraus lending vocals and harmony on songs like "Down to the River to Pray".
Women have always had an impact on bluegrass music, though they were often excluded from early bluegrass bands. From Sally Ann Forester, the first woman to record bluegrass (playing the accordion in Bill Monroe's band), to Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, singers from the 1960s folk revival, to the plethora of female bluegrass bands and bluegrass singers on the scene today, women have played essential roles in the history of bluegrass music. Though Alison Kraus usually receives the most press, other women bluegrass artists, like Laurie Lewis and Gillian Welch, are leading lights in the modern bluegrass scene.
D. Country and Western
18. Hank Williams [Nashville, 1952]: "Your Cheating Heart" (H. Williams)
Honky-tonk music - sometimes called "hard country" or "beer-drinking music" - conveys the sound and ethos of the social arena that spawned it, the roadside beer joint. Post-war honky-tonk music reflected changes in the experience of the southern audience that had patronized hillbilly music during the 1920s and 30s, including increased rural-urban migration, the emergence of a southern white working-class in cities such as Atlanta and Nashville, and the increased instability of male-female relationships. The typical band was small, including a fiddle, a steel guitar and "takeoff" or lead guitar (both amplified), string bass, and piano (but rarely a drummer).
Hank Williams (b. 1923 in Alabama) was the quintessential honky-tonk singer. His recordings mark the emergence of modern country music, a style appealing to a wider mainstream audience. When musicians today talk about returning to "good old country music," they usually mean the honky-tonk style, not "hillbilly" or traditional mountain music. Williams' success peaked in the late 1940s and early 50s; he died at the age of 29, a tragic hero in the pattern of Jimmie Rodgers.
19. Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys [Hollywood, 1951]: "The Wild Side of Life" (Warren and Carter)
Hank Thompson (b. in Waco, Texas, 1925) mixed the styles of Western swing and honky-tonk music. This song, based upon composer William Warren's personal experiences with a "honky tonk angel" who found the "glitter of the gay night life" too hard to resist, reflects a major theme of honky-tonk: the dislocations of urban working-class life, and the transience of male-female relationships. The melody of "The Wild Side" has a long history, having previously been used in "The Great Speckled Bird" (cd 2) and other songs.
20. Kitty Wells [Nashville, 1952]: "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (J.D. Miller)
Kitty Wells (b. Nashville, Tennessee) was the female response to male domination of urban beer hall culture, in which the unattached "honky-tonk angel" was both a lure and a threat. Interestingly, the song was written by a commercially astute male composer as a response to "The Wild Side of Life" by Hank Thompson. Well's reserved, soulful style emphasizes the lyric content of the song. She set a paradigm for female country superstars, and was a major force in the emergence of Nashville as a recording center.
21. Patsy Montana : "I Wanna Be a Cowboy's
21. Patsy Montana : "I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"
This was the first big hit by a woman country singer and a yodel piece that set the standard by which all other women yodelers were judged. The song's jaunty melody is somewhat similar to that of Stuart Hamblen's "Texas Plains" and the polka rhythm, undoubtedly familiar to people of Central European extraction, may help to explain why "Cowboy's Sweetheart" was so popular in the northern Midwest. Patsy Montana was born Ruby Blevins in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She acquired her stage name in the early 1930s when she toured with a troupe led by rodeo cowboy/performer Monte Montana. During her long career, she was associated with some of the most famous names in country music, including Jimmie Davis, for whom she played fiddle on a couple of early records. This song, recently recorded by performers such as LeeAnn Rimes and the Dixie Chicks, has become a standard for women country musicians.
22. Blind Wille Johnson : "God Moves On The Water"
Blind Willie Johnson was born in Texas around 1902, the son of a farmer. Due to an unfortunate childhood accident, he was rendered completely blind and took to music as a profession. Obviously a highly religious person, all of his songs deal with religion in some way. Playing and recording during a time of transition and change, as the country blues style started to form, and as African-American spirituals moved towards gospel music, his music stands out as a unique expression of religious faith. Johnson took existing spirituals, religious hymns sung in African-American churches, and transferred them to the blues idiom. He wrote his own songs, but even on songs taken from the tradition of spirituals, his arrangements are completely unique.
The traditional song "God Moves on the Water" was written about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. In the publicity for the Titanic, it was claimed that this was a ship that God himself could not sink. After the Titanic sank, some people saw this as a punishment from God for excessive hubris. A number of religious songs were written on this theme. In this song, Johnson displays his dazzling skill on the slide guitar, playing full melodic lines and employing a complex fingering technique. Indeed, Johnson was one of the best slide guitarists that ever lived. He used a penknife as a slide on the guitar, a practice that has been observed in certain forms of African music. Johnson also demonstrates his characteristic way of completing sung verses on the guitar. Notice that he never actually sings the line "God moves on the water", but rather sings "God moves " leaving his guitar to finish the line.
23. Golden Gate Quartet : "The Sun Didn't Shine" (Roosevelt Fennoy)
This gospel quartet was recorded by the Okeh and Columbia labels. Note the strong steady pulse; call-and-response; percussive approach; interlocking vocal parts; use of special vocal effects, such as rhythmic breathing; the importance of the bass vocal lines; background vocal "pads" (sustained "oooohs" and "aaahs"); and an emphasis upon direct communication of emotional experience.
Rock 'n' Roll: 1954-1959
1. Bill Haley and the Comets [NYC, 1954]: "Rock Around the Clock" (J. DeKnight and M. Freedman)
A former disc jockey and country-and-western bandleader from Chester, Pennsylvania, Haley was the first white musician to achieve major success by emulating R&B.; This song is considered the first big rock 'n' roll hit (#1 on the pop charts in 1955), partly due to its association with Blackboard Jungle, a film about high school juvenile delinquents. Haley's band featured Rudy Pompilli on sax, and Haley on electric guitar and vocals. "Rock Around the Clock" is a country-tinged version of the jump band sound of Louis Jordan, and is a 12-bar blues. After several hits in the 1950s, and a successful tour of Europe in 1957, Haley's career went into decline. He died in 1981.
2. Bill Haley and the Comets [NYC, 1954]: "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" (Jesse Stone)
It is important to compare Bill Haley's version of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" to Joe Turner's version from CD #3. Composed by Jesse Stone, a black producer for Atlantic Records in 1954, Big Joe Turner's recording from the same year was in a jump blues R&B style. Bill Haley, former leader of a country and western band, recorded a cover version of this song in 1954 as well. His version differs from Turner's in that he emphasizes the guitar over Turner's saxophones, and his rhythm is derivative more of Western Swing than of jump blues R&B. Significantly, the highly erotic lyrics of Turner's are partially censored in Haley's version. Whereas Turner sings: "Well you wear those dresses, the sun come shinin' through, I cain' believe my eyes all that mess belong to you", Haley sings "Wearin' those dresses, your hair done up so nice. You look so warm, but your heart is cold as ice". Interestingly, the line "I'm like a one-eyed cat, peepin' in a seafood store" was retained in Haley's version, a double entendre that likely went right over the censor's head.
Unlike later cases of white artists covering songs from black artists and generating huge profits, both recordings of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" sold well. The difference was that Turner's version made both the pop and the R&B charts, while Haley's version never made it onto the R&B charts. Black audiences appreciated Turner's jump band approach over Haley's approach. This song was one of the first of many future hits for Haley, while it marked the beginning of the end of Joe Turner's career. Though obviously influential in early rock 'n' roll, Turner's time had passed and he was forced to take a backseat in the rock 'n' roll explosion.
3. The Chords [NYC, 1954]: "Sh-Boom" (James Keyes, Carl and Claude Feaster, Floyd McCrae, and William R. Edwards)
The Chords were a vocal R&B; group from The Bronx. This performance was recorded as the B side of a cover of a popular Patti Page song, "Cross Over the Bridge." "Sh-Boom" reached #3 on the R&B; charts, #9 on the pop charts, and is regarded as one of the first rock n' roll hits. Recorded by the indie label Atlantic, which specialized in rhythm and blues recordings during the early 1950s, the slick vocal sound of this group represents a conscious attempt to create a cross-over hit attracting a racially mixed audience.
The structure of the song is AABA, with the A-section chords based on the classic I - VI minor - IV - V pattern common to much vocal group music of the period. The vocal lead and choral "pads" or backgrounds are also typical of the style. The record was produced by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.
4. The Crew Cuts [Chicago, 1954]: "Sh-Boom" (same as previous)
Major record label Mercury specialized during the mid-1950s in covering rhythm & blues hits, with white groups performing sanitized, less rhythmically complex versions directed at the mainstream pop audience. The Crew-Cuts were a Canadian group, modeled on The Four Lads. The Crew-Cuts and other performers specialized in covering rhythm & blues songs. Such groups generally had little or no understanding of the texture and rhythmic momentum of black popular music, and the results often seem awkward and amusing today.
This is a classic example, complete with a tympani solo replacing the swinging tenor sax solo, and a cleancut vocal performance by the Canadian group Crew-Cuts (reminiscent of bandleader Paul Whiteman's attempt to "make a lady out of Jazz" some 30 years earlier). The Crew-Cuts' version of "Sh-Boom" far surpassed the original in sales, and reached #1 on the pop charts.
5. Fats Domino [New Orleans, 1955]: "Ain't That a Shame" (Antoine Domino and Dave Bartholomew)
Starting in the late 1940s, Fats led a New Orleans-based R&B; band. His distinctive piano style (based upon local boogie-woogie and Latin-influenced piano traditions), good-natured, relaxed singing, and excellent sidemen (e.g., co-leader Dave Bartholomew, a former member of Duke Ellington's big band) contributed to his success. This and other early recordings feature tenor sax solos by Lee Allen. Fats was the consummate crossover artist, and was able not only to generate a series of big hits with young white audiences, but also to fight off cover attempts by Pat Boone and other white artists who recorded simplified, "cleaned-up" versions of his originals.
6. Little Richard [New Orleans, 1955]: "Tutti-Frutti" (Richard Penniman)
Born in Macon, Georgia, Richard Penniman was washing dishes in a bus station restaurant just months before he became one of the first recording stars of rock and roll. He recorded with Fats Domino's dance band in New Orleans, but his vocal style and stage presence was markedly different from Fats' cool and relaxed style. Little Richard was wild, exciting, and extroverted, and he introduced many of the characteristics we now associate with rock n' roll performance.
Richard's career was temporarily cut short in the late 1950s when he renounced rock and roll and became a minister. Since then he has veered back and forth between these two roles - the rock and roller and the preacher - most recently combining the two. "Tutti Frutti," originally a suggestive novelty song opening with the phrase "a-wop-bom-a-lubop a-lop-bam-boom," charted at #2 R & B in late '55, #17 pop in early '56. The song was covered by a variety of artists, including Elvis Presley and Pat Boone (see next example).
7. Pat Boone: "Tutti Frutti" [NYC, 1956]
During the first few years of his career Pat Boone (b. Jacksonville, FL, 1934) made highly successful cover versions of R&B; hits, which led to him being labeled as a rock n' roll singer. In fact, Boone's approach was that of a square mainstream pop singer attempting to make sense of black musical styles that were essentially alien to him. His first #1 hit was a cover version of "Ain't That a Shame" by Fats Domino (1955), and he also recorded covers of songs by Louis Jordan, the Drifters, Big Joe Turner, and Bill Haley. Boone's version of "Tutti Frutti" did much better than Little Richard's recording, scoring in the Top Ten on the pop charts.
8. Bo Diddley [Chicago, 1955]: "Bo Diddley" (Elias McDaniel)
Born in McComb, Mississippi in 1928, Elias McDaniel moved to Chicago as a child. His stage name, Bo Diddley, is derived from the term for a one-string southern black folk instrument. His sound centered upon an African-derived rhythm pattern, played with a thick, fuzzy sound and strong triplet pulsations produced by the mercury-bubble tremelo unit built into many guitar amplifiers of the time. The lyrics of his songs derived from African American traditions, including children's game songs and urban blues. The band on this track includes harmonica, guitar, drums, and Otis Spann from Muddy Waters' band on piano. The record was produced by the Chess Brothers, who had pioneered in the emergence of Chicago urban blues. The Bo Diddley rhythm pattern was much imitated in the early days of rock and roll (e.g., Johnny Otis' "Hand Jive") and is found in rock music through the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, including the Rolling Stones' "Not Fade Away" and Bruce Springsteen's "She's the One."
9. Chuck Berry [Chicago, 1955]: "Maybelline" (Chuck Berry, Russ Fratto, and Alan Freed)
Chuck Berry, who also recorded on the independent label owned by the Chess brothers, was one of rock and roll's foremost innovators, both as an electric guitarist and as a songwriter adept at dealing with the concerns of his teen-aged audience. An R&B; musician who played clubs in East St. Louis while earning a living as a cosmetician by day, Berry moved to Chicago in an attempt to break into the big time. He landed a contract with Chess through his friend Muddy Waters. Berry's simple, direct style and clearly enunciated lyrics about cars, high school romance, and the glories of rock n' roll reached a wide audience. He had a string of hits from 1955 to 1958, though his recordings did not dominate the pop charts to the same extent as those of Presley, Domino, Little Richard and others. In fact, his first #1 pop hit did not come until 1973, with the novelty song "My Ding-a-Ling."
This song is a modified 12-bar blues with a country-and-western influenced beat. It was originally known as "Ida Red," and had been recorded by a number of country musicians, including western swing bandleader Bob Wills. Berry revised the song, putting Ida Red into a car, and (because "Ida Red" was a public domain song, which meant it couldn't be copyrighted, and couldn't generate royalties) renaming her "Maybelline," a term drawn from his beauty shop days. The song was purportedly co-written by white rock n' roll disc jockeys Freed and Fratto, although their major contribution was to promote the song on their radio shows.
10. Elvis Presley [Memphis, 1955]: "Mystery Train" (Junior Parker)
As far as middle-class America was concerned, Elvis was the performer that established rock n' roll as the dominant popular music nationwide. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and raised in Memphis, Elvis was working as a truck driver when he was discovered by record producer Sam Phillips. Phillips had previously specialized in recording black blues performers, and said that if he could find "a white man with the Negro sound and the Negro feel," he could make "a million dollars." Elvis Presley filled the bill.
This recording was made for Phillip's Sun Records in 1955, and represented the emergence of a new blend of country music and R&B;, later dubbed "rockabilly." This style used blues songs such as this one (first recorded by Junior Parker), and added a simple accompaniment of electric guitar (played here by Scotty Moore), bass, and later drums. Presley strummed acoustic guitar and sang in an unaffected manner incorporating aspects of country and blues style. In 1954 and 1955 Presley created a sensation performing African-American-derived music for white audiences in concerts and via the expanding medium of television.
11. Elvis Presley [Nashville, 1956]: "Don't Be Cruel" (Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley)
This was Elvis' first recording for RCA, and it was a very big crossover hit, reaching an unprecedented #1 position on the pop, country, and R&B; charts. This recording demonstrates a more polished and highly produced studio sound, with a more artificial, self-conscious vocal style, a slick vocal back-up group (the Jordannaires), and professional Nashville studio musicians under the direction of country music star Chet Atkins. Rather than drawing upon blues and country songs, Elvis began to sing songs written for him by professional tunesmiths. Later, under the guidance of RCA recording moguls, he began to record ballads such as "Love Me Tender" and pop songs of all kinds, and starred in a series of commercially successful motion pictures. Elvis said that this is what he always wanted to be: a film star and not a rock n' roller. Today Elvis' image, that of the poor southern boy metamorphosized into wealthy (though troubled) superstar, is enshrined at Graceland. a museum-amusement park visited by hundreds of thousands of fans each year.
12. Jerry Lee Lewis [Memphis, 1957]: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (Jerry Lee Lewis)
Sam Phillips, having sold Presley's contract to RCA, invested the money in other budding rock and rollers. His first post-Elvis success was Carl Perkins with "Blue Suede Shoes," but Phillips had even better luck with Jerry Lee Lewis, a piano player from Louisiana. His background was in country music, but after Presley's success he decided to give rock and roll a try. Lewis performances are wild; he pounds his arms, feet, etc. on the keyboards, and often ends up atop the piano. This song is a 12-bar blues, drawing upon boogie-woogie piano style. The Sun Records stable of artists also included Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, and Roy Orbison; most Sun performers moved in the direction of country music after the peak of 1950s rock and roll.
13. The Everly Brothers [Nashville, 1957]: "Bye, Bye Love" (B. and F. Bryant)
Don and Phil Everly were born in rural eastern Kentucky, and began their careers performing brother duet style country music on their parents' radio show in Iowa. "Bye, Bye Love," composed by professional Nashville tunesmiths, became an instant hit on both the pop and country charts. The Everly Brothers' two-part harmonies are modeled upon the 1930s "hillbilly" records of brother duets such as the Monroe Brothers and Blue Sky Boys, to which they added a strong rock n' roll dance beat. After performing separately during the 1970s, the Everly Brothers reunited in 1983, and have been touring and recording together again.
14. Buddy Holly and the Crickets [Clovis, New Mexico, 1957]: "That'll Be the Day" (J. Allison, N. Petty, B. Holly)
Buddy Holly's strong influence on rock n' roll was disproportionate to the length of his career (1957-59); he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 21. Holly was born in Lubbock, Texas, and was a teen-ager during the first years of rock n' roll. He took aspects of the styles of Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, and Elvis and created an individualistic style. Holly was a pioneer of modern studio techniques, over-dubbing instrumental parts, arranging and producing his own recordings, and popularizing what was to become the standard modern rock band line-up of two electric guitars (lead and rhythm), bass and drums.
Many groups have covered Buddy Holly songs, including the Rolling Stone's version of "Not Fade Away" (1964) and Blind Faith's version of "Well All Right" (1969). His group, the Crickets, inspired the Beatles to adopt a "bug" name, and his innovations influenced them strongly. Paul McCartney heard Holly on a U.K. tour in 1958, and bought the rights to all of Holly's music in the 1980s and has sponsored Buddy Holly week in London every year since 1976. In 1978 a film about Holly's life was made, starring Gary Busey.
15. Coasters : "Yakety Yak" (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
The Coasters (the name refers to the group's West Coast origins) came into being after an early vocal R&B; group called the Robins broke up. The Coasters worked under the creative direction of Leiber and Stoller at Atlantic Records. "Yakety-Yak" was an R and B song with a sense of humor. Its satirical rendering of intergenerational conflict demonstrates Leiber and Stollers' remarkable ability to incorporate aspects of adolescent experience into their work, an important element in their long-lived success as producer-songwriters. The line "Take out the papers and the trash, or you don't get no spending cash!" is the epitome of teenage frustration.
The tenor saxophone solo is by "session man" King Curtis, who influenced many later soul music horn players with his gritty tone and expressive playing. Once again Leiber and Stoller created a simple musical structure (8 bars repeated over and over with variations) and a lyric that appealed to the expanding teen audience. "Yakety Yak" peaked at #1 on the pop charts, #1 R & B.
16. Ritchie Valens (L.A., 1958): "La Bamba"
Richie Valens was a Chicano (Mexican-American) musician brought up in the barrios of East Los Angeles who did a great deal to introduce Latin influences to mainstream rock and roll. "La Bamba," released on the indie label Del-Fi in 1958, is a rock n' roll version of a Mexican folk song. It was the B side of the #2 pop hit "Donna." Although it reached only #22 on the pop charts, "La Bamba" was very influential and became a quintessential party song. Richie Valens died before his 18th birthday, in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. The 1987 film based on Valens' life featured covers of his music by Los Lobos, who scored a #1 hit with "La Bamba."
17. Dion and the Belmonts [NYC, 1959]: "A Teenager in Love" (Jerome "Doc" Pomus and Mort Shuman)
By 1959, a number of antiseptic white stars had been created to satisfy the expanding teen music market, including Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Fabian, and Dion. Dion DiMucci (b. 1939) started singing at age five, and appeared at age fifteen on "T.V. Teen Club," hosted by Paul Whiteman. His early musical experiences included listening to his father's Al Jolson records, the honky-tonk music of Hank Williams, and vocal group R&B.; The Belmonts were named after an thoroughfare in the Bronx, where members of the group grew up. Dion and the Belmonts were the most successful, and the most authentic, of the many white "doo-wop" groups that emulated the sound of black vocal R&B; in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
"A Teenager in Love," released on the indie label Laurie, was Dion's first big hit (#5 on the pop charts in 1959). It is a gentle love ballad, a blend of R&B; harmonizing and the romanticism of pop vocal groups such as the Four Lads. Dion later developed a sexier, more threatening tough-guy image with hits like "Runaround Sue" (#1, 1961) and "The Wanderer" (#2, 1961).
The Early 1960s
A. The Twist
1. Chubby Checker [Philadelphia, 1960]: "The Twist" (Hank Ballard)
The Twist was the first major dance craze of the rock 'n' roll era. Its success came largely through the influence of Dick Clark, perhaps the most powerful person in the music industry at that time, who had already created several "teen idol" stars (including Frankie Avalon and Fabian) through his television show American Bandstand.
"The Twist" was written and first recorded in 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and became a moderate rhythm & blues hit. The following year Dick Clark recruited a Philadelphia singer named Ernest Evans to record the song as Chubby Checker (a name inspired by Fats Domino), and both the song and the hip-gyrating dance of the same name were heavily promoted on Clark's show. The song went to #1 on the pop charts twice, first in 1960 and again in 1961, inspiring other "twist" songs, twist dance clubs, and other dance fads. Dick Clark reaped most of the profits from the success of "The Twist," while Hank Ballard and Chubby Checker got relatively little.
B. Surf Music
2. The Surfaris [LA, 1963]: "Wipe Out"
instrumental piece by the Surfaris is a surf-rock classic (#2 pop in 1963), and
was also made popular by the Ventures, the most successful of the instrumental
rock 'n' roll bands of this era. "Wipe Out" is a term from surfing
sub-culture that describes getting knocked off your surfboard by a wave. The
form is 12-bar blues.
3. The Beach Boys [LA, 1963]: "Surfin' USA" (Wilson)
The Beach Boys were the first group to score a lasting national success with the California surf music style pioneered by groups such as guitarist Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. The group was formed in suburban L.A. by three teen-aged brothers - Carl, Brian, and Dennis Wilson - their cousin Mike Love, and neighbor Al Jardine. Surf music combined 1950s rock 'n' roll electric guitar style with smooth harmonies derived from vocal groups such as the Four Freshmen. Brian Wilson is the major songwriter, arranger and producer of the group. This song is a note-for-note cover version of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," with new surf lyrics added.
4. The Beach Boys [LA, 1963]: "Surfer Girl" (Wilson)
This song is the title track (inspired by the Disney song "When You Wish Upon A Star") from the album "Surfer Girl". "Surfer Girl" was the groups' first ballad and it became #7 on the Pop charts and #18 on the R&B charts. It was created in the standard ballad form (I VI iv V) with a 6/8 waltz tempo.
This surf ballad is a love song, written for Wilson's girlfriend of the time. The words are touching (Little surfer, little one, make my heart come all undone) and this song takes the group in a new direction, building on lush harmonies and difficult vocal melodies. This is the sound of the Beach Boys at a quintessential point in their careers, a time when the group had matured and meshed into the sound which is still associated with the group today.
C. Urban Folk
5. The Kingston Trio [San Francisco, 1958]: "Tom Dooley"
The urban folk revival style, pioneered by the Weavers in the early 1950s, experienced its first big commercial breakthrough in the late 1950s, with this recording. The Kingston Trio were a more polished, non-politicized alternative to groups such as the Weavers. Their audience was primarily middle-class and college-educated, and they performed primarily in coffee houses and on college campuses. This song is an adaptation of a strophic Appalachian folk song, a tragic tale very much in the Anglo-American ballad tradition. The Kingston Trio's version juxtaposes the tragic content of the lyric with a happy, up-beat presentation, characteristic of their carefully honed 'show-biz' approach to performing folk music.
6. Peter, Paul, and Mary [NYC, 1963]: "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan)
Peter, Paul, and Mary were the most popular acoustic folk group of the mid-1960s. They were also the first to bring the general public's attention to Bob Dylan; this cover of a Dylan song went to #2 on the pop charts. Rooted in the Greenwich Village folk club scene, the trio specialized in "protest songs" (e.g., "If I Had a Hammer" by Pete Seeger, #10 in 1962) and love ballads ("Leavin' on a Jet Plane", #1 in 1969). Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers shared the political commitments of the Weavers, and were active in many Civil rights marches and anti-war demonstrations in the 1960s.
7. Bob Dylan [NYC, 1963]: "The Times They are a Changin'" (Dylan)
Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman, was brought up in Duluth, Minnesota. Influenced by Depression-era folk-singer Woody Guthrie and black blues singers such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Dylan wandered the country as an itinerant singer, and finally ended up in the coffee house folk music scene of Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Writing and performing his own songs, he encouraged other urban folk singers to augment their traditional repertoires with original material. His songs of social criticism and protest became anthems for the Civil Rights and anti-War movements. This song is in triple meter; its form, typical of Anglo-American traditional ballads, is strophic.
8. Joni Mitchell: "A Case of You"
Joni Mitchell helped define the image of the intimate singer-songwriter when she came out with her album Blue in 1970. The album explores issues of adoption, relationships, and being a woman. In "A Case of You", she deliberately sets up a conversation where the listener becomes the second person in the song. This set the trend for the "confessional" lyric style, and the idea of the songwriter as expressing him or herself as a person in dialog with the listener.
A Case of You
By Joni Mitchell
Just before our love got
lost you said
On the back of a cartoon
On the back of a cartoon
Oh I could drink a case of
Oh I could drink a case of
Oh I am a lonely painter
Oh I am a lonely painter
I remember that time you
told me you said
I remember that time you
told me you said
Oh I could drink a case of
Oh I could drink a case of
I met a woman
9. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles : "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson)
Producer Berry Gordy, working out of Detroit, applied the techniques of mainstream pop production to R&B; music, and created a dominant crossover sound during the 1960s. In 1960 Gordy gave up a job on an auto assembly line and borrowed $600 to start his own label, Tamla Records (later Motown). Motown was the first black-owned record company since the Depression. Gordy fostered a corporate image, a set of stylistic characteristics that immediately identified the Motown Sound. Gordy combined the emotional intensity of gospel-based R&B; with the careful orchestrations and arrangements of the Brill Building sound. Borrowing from the Tin Pan Alley tradition, he also maintained a permanent stable of producers and song writers.
Robinson, the songwriter, producer, and expressive interpreter of lyrics for
the Miracles, made them one of Motown's most distinctive and consistent groups.
Listen for gospel influence in the piano introduction and in Robinson's vocal
style. His singing swoops from mid to high range, attempting notes that are
nearly out of his range. The call-and-response sections and the intensity of
Robinson's performance evoke the emotional involvement of black church music.
One of the "hooks" of the song is the guitar line introduced at the
very start and repeated during the chorus. This song reached #8 pop, #1
R&B; in 1963.
10. The Supremes : "Stop! In the Name of Love" (Eddie and Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier)
The Supremes were Motown's greatest commercial success, the most popular female group of the 1960s. They had a dozen #1 hits on the pop charts between 1963 and 1970, a record bettered only by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. The Supremes projected an image of wholesome maturity instead of the little girl appeal or the street-tough sensuality of earlier groups. Lead singer Diana Ross emerged as the groups visual focal point and was very successful despite her somewhat limited vocal capabilities. "Stop! In the Name of Love" was the Supremes' fourth #1 pop single in row, and reached #2 on the R&B; charts. Note the elaborate arrangement and orchestral accompaniment, influenced by the innovations of Phil Spector. The Holland-Dozier-Holland song writing and production team was responsible for many of Motown's most successful recordings.
11. The Temptations : "My Girl" (Smokey Robinson)
Performing in a style derived from vocal R&B; quartets, The Temptations were the most successful male vocal group of the 1960s and early 70s. Their success was based on Motown's efficient promotion machine, and on a combination of David Ruffin's rough-edged lead vocals, the group's urgent harmonies, and precise choreography. "My Girl" went to #1 on the pop and R&B; charts in 1965. On this recording a basic drum pattern, bass part, and guitar riff (in this case acting as the song's hook or signature) combine to form the musical core, over which are added layers of vocals, strings, and horns. Notice how the snare-drum, rhythm-guitar, and finger-snaps accent beats 2 and 4 of each measure, maintaining a compelling dance rhythm, even at a slow tempo.
12. Martha and the Vandellas : "Dancing in the Street" (Stevenson/Gaye/Hunter)
This group (Martha Reeves, Annette Sterling, Rosalind Ashford, and Gloria Williamson) first recorded together unsuccessfully for Chess Records as the "Del-Phis" while they were still in high school. Martha Reeves later got a job at Motown Records and so began their relationship with the renowned record company. Martha and the Vandellas are a group that exemplifies the Motown sound, style, and image. The group was based out of Detroit and is one of the "hit-making" superstars created and promoted by Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The group had several hits and "Dancing in the Street" was perhaps their best known hit and a song that identified them as part of the hit-team for Motown Records.
13. Diana Ross : "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (Ashford/Simpson)
This number one hit from 1970 is an example of one of many songs taken to the top of the charts by Diana Ross after she left the Supremes to pursue a solo career. Ross paved the way for solo female artists and also took her career to Hollywood where she starred in the movie "Lady Sings Blues" (1972), a movie based on the life of Billie Holiday. Never praised for her vocal abilities, Ross based her career on the image of a pop superstar and claimed the stage and recording studio as a centre for female power and agency.
The 1960s -- British Invasion and Folk Rock
A. British Invasion
1. The Beatles : "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney; George Martin, producer)
The impact of the Beatles - not only on popular music but on Western mass culture in general - is incalculable. They were the first of the British Invasion groups, and opened the door for many young U.K. bands. The Beatles helped reintroduce elements of 1950s R & B and rock 'n' roll into the increasingly bland American popular music mainstream. They also helped to establish the idea of the singer-songwriter. The group's origins lie in John Lennon's skiffle group, the Quarrymen, formed in Liverpool in 1955. Skiffle was the British equivalent of America's late-1950s folk revival, an imitation of New Orleans jazz and jug band styles. Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined the Quarrymen in 1957, after meeting Lennon at a church picnic. The band, with drummer Pete Best, played in Hamburg, Germany 1960-61, developing their stage act and incorporating Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly songs into their repertoire.
The Beatles (a name chosen in homage to Buddy Holly's Crickets) debuted at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1961, and soon developed a local following. Their manager, Brian Epstein, was able to land a contract with major record company EMI after being rejected by nearly every label in Europe. Producer George Martin auditioned and signed the group in 1962, and soon thereafter Ringo Starr joined. Their first EMI single ("Love Me Do") was released in October 1962, and soon became a top 20 hit in England. After their first #1 hit ("From Me To You"), the British record industry applied the term "Merseybeat" to the Beatles and other groups from Liverpool (e.g., Gerry and the Pacemakers).
EMI's American label, Capitol, had not released the 1963 recordings, which George Martin had licensed to indie labels without much success. They finally released the fourth Beatles single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and the LP Meet the Beatles in January 1964, and invested $50,000 for promotion in the U.S. On February 7 screaming mobs met the Beatles at Kennedy Airport, and more than 70 million people watched each of their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb 9th and 16th. By April they had monopolized the top five positions in the Billboard pop charts.
2. The Beatles : "Can't Buy Me Love" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney; George Martin, producer)
Released in the U.S. in April 1964, this recording consolidated the Beatles' hold on the pop charts: as of April all of the top five singles and 14 of the top 100 were Beatles records (an achievement never equaled). "Can't Buy Me Love" is a good example of Lennon and McCartney's innovative approach to pop songwriting. The A section is 12 bars long, like a blues in a minor key, and the B section, in a major key, is 8 bars long.
3. The Kinks : "You Really Got Me" (Ray Davies)
The Kinks' 'power chords' and rough sound influenced the punk and heavy metal movements of the late 1970s and 80s. Ray Davies, a former art student, emerged as an important songwriter with their third single, "You Really Got Me" (#1 in the U.K. and #7 in the U.S.). Davies' songs are introspective, cynical, and melancholy, based on British places and people, and often express the disenchantment of the middle-class. From 1965-69 the Kinks were banned from touring in the U.S. because of their "unprofessional conduct." In the late 60s and early 70s they started making "concept albums" and using theatrical staging influenced by British music-hall traditions. By the mid-1970s they were a cult band with a devoted following.
4. The Rolling Stones : "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Mick Jagger and Keith Richard)
Regarded as the "bad boys" of the British Invasion, the Rolling Stones parlayed a style and image based on black American music into a 30-year career. Formed in 1962 in London, their earliest materials consisted of Chicago blues, black R and B, and rock and roll covers (the group was named after a Muddy Waters song). Mick Jagger developed a sullen, overtly sexual stage presence and Keith Richard contributed Chuck Berry-derived rhythm guitar patterns. In 1969 Andrew Loog Oldham became their manager, and decided to promote the Stones as a less wholesome, more rebellious version of the Beatles. Their first US #1 hit, "Satisfaction," established Jagger-Richard as a successful songwriting team.
The group's menacing image, stressed in album titles such as Their Satanic Majesty's Request, was further reinforced by the arrest of Jagger, Richards, and lead guitarist Brian Jones on drug possession charges; the death by drowning of Brian Jones; and a stabbing death committed by Hell's Angels at a free concert at Altamont Speedway. The Rolling Stones continued to record and tour into the early 1990s.
5. The Who : "My Generation"
Not really a British Invasion band (they had little commercial success in the U.S. until 1967), the Who featured power chords, adolescent rage, and wild stage performances. Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle grew up in working-class areas around London. Managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp changed the band name from the High Number to the Who, and promoted them as a Mod band. The Mods were a British urban youth sub-culture characterized by neat haircuts, stylish Elizabethan-type dress, and a preference for black American music. The Who's early repertoire included James Brown and Motown covers.
"My Generation," #2 in UK (only #75 in US), became an anthem of the 60s youth culture: "Hope I die before I get old." By 1966 they were hugely popular in Britain, though their stage act of smashing their instruments had placed them heavily in debt. Their appearances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969 established them as one of the top live acts in both sides of Atlantic. The Who later produced a series of complex "concept albums," including The Who Sell Out (1967), and the rock operas Tommy (1969) and Quadrophrenia (1973).
6. Bob Dylan [N.Y., 1965]: "Like a Rolling Stone" (Dylan)
In 1965 Dylan enraged many of his fans by turning his back on folk "purism" and developing a new electrified rock-influenced sound. His performance at the Newport Folk Festival that year, backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, drew boos and catcalls. A month later, he performed with a back-up group including Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson, later known as the Band. Dylan persevered, recorded with this new group, and "Like a Rolling Stone" became his first major hit (#2 pop). It is one of his most powerful and enduring songs, in Anglo-American-derived strophic form, as were many of his songs during his earlier acoustic period. Dylan later switched styles again, this time to country music, recording Nashville Skyline with Nashville session players in 1968.
7. The Byrds [L.A., 1966]: "Turn, Turn, Turn"
Responding to the success of the British Invasion groups in 1964 and 65, some American folk and country musicians formed rock groups. One of the first post-Beatles bands in this genre was the Byrds, led by singer and 12-string guitarist Jim (later Roger) McGuinn. Made up of musicians with experience in the folk coffee house scene and country music, including David Crosby (later of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), this band pioneered folk-rock. This style used "folk songs," both from traditional oral sources and songwriters like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, as well as new songs composed by the band in a folkish vein, and accompanied them with rock rhythms played by an electrified rhythm section. The Byrds' trademark was McGuinn's electric 12-string guitar sound and their distinctive harmonies. "Turn, Turn, Turn" was their second big hit, following a cover of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" in 1965. The group stayed together through the 1970s, and recorded several important country-rock albums with singer Gram Parsons.
8. The Lovin' Spoonful [N.Y., 1966]: "Do You Believe in Magic?"
This group emerged out of the same Greenwich Village club milieu that nurtured the urban folk movement in the 1950s. Leader John Sebastian began as a solo folk performer whose main instruments were harmonica and autoharp. This song is typical of their light, non-controversial style, and became their first Top Ten hit. Sebastian has pursued a fairly successful solo career since the break-up of the group in the late 1960s, including the theme song for the television series Welcome Back Kotter.
C. Late Beatles
9. The Beatles : "Norwegian Wood" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney; George Martin, producer)
The Beatles managed to combine unprecedented popularity with artistic growth during the mid-1960s. Their first two movies, A Hard Days Night (1964) and Help (1965), directed by Richard Lester, departed from the typical pop-star movie tradition, and were acclaimed by critics. The 1965 concert at Shea Stadiam in N.Y. attracted 56,000 people, the largest audience for any popular musical event until that time. The album Rubber Soul (1965) included more political and personalized songs inspired by the folk-rock movement, especially Bob Dylan. "Norwegian Wood," never released as a single, is a good example of their new musical direction. The mood is relaxed and contemplative; the enigmatic lyrics, written by John Lennon, invite speculation and interpretation; and George Harrison's use of sitar -- a stringed instrument from North India -- creates a shimmering metallic sound more suggestive of the Byrds than of Chuck Berry.
10. The Beatles : "A Day in the Life" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney; George Martin, producer)
It took four months and $75,000 to record Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band. The release of this album, June 1, 1967, is considered a major event in the history of rock music. The album cover includes some sixty figures whom the Beatles admired, including Lewis Caroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe and Karl Marx. All the lyrics were printed on the back cover, setting a precedent. Sgt. Pepper is regarded as one of the first "concept albums," in which individual songs are like chapters of a novel. The amalgam of eclectic styles - rock 'n' roll, folk, Indian classical music, vaudeville, psychedelic, electronic and aleatoric (chance) music - was recorded on a four-track tape recorder, primitive by today's technological standards.
"A Day in the Life" is actually a combination of two separately conceived songs: Lennon's surreal reading of the "news" and McCartney's prosaic account of a typical daily routine. The crescendo of the middle and ending part of the song was played by a symphony orchestra, the members of which were instructed to perform a gradual collective glissando (slide) from the lowest pitch on their instruments to the highest. This song was the first Beatles song to be banned from British airplays: surreal fragments such as "blew his mind," "went into a dream" and "I'd love to turn you on" were regarded by censors as pro-drug propaganda.
The Late 1960s
A. Psychedelic Rock
1. Jefferson Airplane [San Francisco, 1967]: "Somebody To Love" (Grace Slick)
San Francisco, and more particularly the Haight-Ashbury district, became a major counter-culture and music center in the mid-1960s, and Jefferson Airplane was the first of the Bay Area groups to have hits on the pop charts and to be signed by a major label (RCA). They started as a folk-rock group, fronted by former folk singers Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson (from Seattle). Grace Slick joined the group in 1967, bringing with her songs she had performed with her previous group, The Great Society. "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" were the two first Top Ten singles to come out of the Haight-Ashbury scene, and the LP on which they appeared, Surrealistic Pillow, sold over a million copies. The Jefferson Airplane pioneered a unique psychedelic style, a synthesis of elements from folk, pop, jazz, blues, and rock, with lyrics dealing with love and drugs.
2. The Grateful Dead [San Francisco, 1970]: "St. Stephan/The Eleven" [excerpts] (Garcia, Hunter, and Lesh)
The Dead, a former jug band that played around the Bay area, became one of the first groups associated with the new S.F. hippie/drug-culture. They performed at free festivals in the parks and at dances called "acid tests". Led by guitarist Jerry Garcia, they were a community-based band who lived and played democratically. Dead concerts featured long jams or group improvisations based loosely on folk, country, and/or blues structures. Their marathon concerts and spontaneity garnered them a devoted network of fans, many of whom follow them from concert to concert. They were pioneers in the use of large, hi-tech sound systems for concerts, and are still touring.
3. Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company [San Francisco, 1968]: "Summertime" (Heyward and Gershwin)
Big Brother and the Holding Company was among the most influential of the San Francisco/Haight Ashbury bands (others included Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, Santana, and Sly and the Family Stone). Their focus was Janis Joplin (b. 1943, Port Arthur, Texas), the premier white blues singer of the 1960s. Like the Who and Jimi Hendrix, Joplin and Big Brother became well-known through their appearance at the Monterrey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967 ('The Summer of Love'). The 1968 album Cheap Thrills, which contains this version of George Gershwin's "Summertime", sold a million copies. As Joplin's reputation grew, she left Big Brother and started the Kozmic Blues Band, and later the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Her career was cut short by a heroin overdose in 1970. This example, a version of Tin Pan Alley composer George Gershwin's "Summertime", demonstrates her blues-rooted style, inspired by such singers as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton.
4. The Doors [Los Angeles, 1967]: "Light My Fire" (Jim Morrison and the Doors)
Los Angeles produced a number of new bands concurrent with the San Francisco musical explosion. The most successful of these was the Doors, a name suggested by charismatic lead singer/lyricist Jim Morrison, from William Blake via Aldous Huxley's book on mescaline, The Doors of Perception. Morrison's sinister "Lizard King" persona and erratic, exhibitionist stage performances were framed by Ray Manzarek's unadorned organ sound and Robby Krieger's jazz-influenced guitar. Morrison died under mysterious circumstances in Paris in 1971; some fans still refuse to believe that he is dead. The LP version of this song, the first #1 pop hit by the Doors, includes long instrumental solos, edited out on the single.
B. Soul Music
5. Ray Charles [Miami, 1954]: "I've Got A Woman" (Ray Charles)
Ray Charles is a seminal force in American popular music. Starting out as an R&B singer and jazz crooner, moving into Rock 'n' Roll in the 1950s, and then into soul music in the 1960s, his presence has been felt by countless artists and fans throughout the years.
Born in the Deep South during the Great Depression, Charles was blinded at age six and orphaned by the time he was sixteen. From an early age Charles was musically omnivorous, absorbing styles as diverse as jazz, blues, gospel, country, classical piano, and boogie-woogie piano. Charles got his start in Seattle in the late 1940s, recording jazzy crooning numbers. After he left Seattle in 1950 he formed a band of his own and began singing hard-driving R&B songs as well as deeply soulful songs adapted from the gospel tradition. Charles pioneered the combination of secular gospel and R&B that was to become soul music.
The song "I Got A Woman", written by Charles, was his first #1 hit on the R&B charts. Powerful gospel inflections can be heard in Charles voice, and the beat of the song sounds like a driving R&B beat. Charles got into trouble combining sacred and secular music like this, but he stood by his sound and by his belief that he should be able to play all different kinds of music.
6. James Brown : "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (James Brown)
James Brown (a.k.a. The Godfather, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Soul Brother Number One) started singing gospel as a teen living in Georgia. From gospel he moved to secular music, copying popular R & B groups of the late 40s and early 50s. He and his group, the Famous Flames, had their first hit in 1956 with "Please, Please, Please." James Brown has always had a distinctive sound, a raw intensity in his voice that combined singing with elements of preaching. Nevertheless, up until the mid-1960s the overall style was still heavily R&B; influenced. With "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" Brown initiates a sound that is distinctly rhythmic and percussive, with short, punchy horn riffs. It's a move towards making the whole band part of the rhythm section, something that Brown said he had started "hearing" in the early 60s. The overall effect later came to be known as "funky" and influenced countless groups, both white and black the world over. "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" is a 12-bar blues. Listen for the use of stop-time at the end of each chorus, and for the "chanka" style of guitarist Jimmy Nolan, who strikes the strings in a short, percussive manner. This became the signature style for many soul and funk guitarists.
7. Otis Redding : "Can't Turn You Loose" (Otis Redding)
Redding recorded for Stax Records, a soul label based in Memphis, Tennessee. On this cut he is backed by the Stax "house" rhythm section, consisting of Steve Cropper on guitar, Duck Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson on drums, and an in-house horn section called the Mar-Keys. "Can't Turn You Loose" is a good example of hard-hitting Memphis soul (#11 R&B;, 1965). Redding's biggest hit was "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay," which went to #1 on the R&B; and Pop charts in 1968. It was a posthmous hit; Redding died in a plane crash in 1967.
8. Aretha Franklin : "Respect" (Otis Redding)
After touring as a gospel singer in her teens, Aretha Franklin ("Lady Soul") spent five frustrating years with major record label Columbia attempting to define her sound. In 1967 she signed with Atlantic Records and began working with producer Jerry Wexler. Her gospel background is evident in her strong voice and impassioned delivery. The saxophone solo is by King Curtis, an important session musician during this period. Aretha had 13 top ten hits between 1967 and 1974, and scored a comeback during the 1980s.
9. Marvin Gaye : "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" (Whitfield, Strong)
Marvin Gaye was another Motown stalwart who had moved from gospel and R & B in the late 50s to soul in the 60s. He sang in churches and street-corner "doo-wop" vocal groups before forming his first group in 1957. This song, recorded after his move to Motown, was his biggest solo hit of the 1960s. He had a strong and expressive voice with a preacher's intensity. By 1971 Gaye moved to take over artistic control of his material and make a more personally philosophical album. The result was "What's Goin' On" which spawned three top ten singles in 1971.
C. Guitar Virtuosos
10. Cream [London, 1969]: "Crossroads" (Robert Johnson)
After leaving the mid-1960s "rave-up" group The Yardbirds, which included a number of influential rock guitarists, Eric Clapton played with British bluesman John Mayall, and then formed Cream, the prototypical guitar-bass-drums power trio. Drummer Ginger Baker, using two bass drums, and bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, playing an unusual 6-string bass, provided a solid background for the virtuoso blues-derived guitar solos of Eric Clapton. This live performance captures some of Cream's approach to extended improvisatory playing, a development from the Yardbirds' "raveups". This supergroup (a term coined by the recording industry) was unstable, and broke up in 1970 after recording only three albums. This song, a twelve-bar blues, is attributed to Delta bluesman Robert Johnson.
11. Jimi Hendrix [London, 1967]: "Purple Haze" (J. Hendrix)
Born in the northwest and raised in Seattle, Hendrix was one of the most important figures in the development of electric guitar technique (others include T-Bone Walker and jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, who played with Benny Goodman's band). He pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source, turning feedback effects and "distortion" into a controlled sonic vocabulary, and influencing all rock guitarists after him. As a teenager, Jimi taught himself to play guitar by listening to Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Chuck Berry. He began his career on the rhythm and blues circuit (playing behind Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, and many others), and was "discovered" by ex-Animals bass player Chas Chandler, who brought him to London. The Experience, with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums, was a success in England first; they first appeared in the U.S. at the Monterrey Pop Festival (at the insistence of Paul McCartney) in 1967. This cut is from his first LP, Are You Experienced?, released in England in 1967. Note the influence of blues style on Hendrix's guitar playing, and his innovative use of electronic techniques to create textures.
12. Led Zepplin : Stairway to Heaven
The British hard rock band Led Zeppelin is often credited with originating the sound of heavy metal in the early 1970s. Made up of the virtuosic guitarist Jimmy Page, the drummer John Bonham, bass/organ player John Paul Jones, and lead singer Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin pioneered the sound of heavy metal drumming, while the high tenor voice of Plant set the standard for later heavy metal singers. Zeppelin drew its influences from varying sources, from urban blues to the virtuosity and sound design of Hendrix, and from San Fransisco psychedlia to British folk music.
This song, Stairway to Heaven, from the album "Led Zeppelin IV", is Led Zeppelin's most famous song and has become an infamous standard for amateur guitarists. It is also an example of a seeming paradox in heavy metal music: the link between acoustic folk sensibilities and hardcore rocker mentalities. These two seemingly opposing themes run throughout heavy metal, for example, slow ballads are a staple of many heavy metal groups. Zeppelin expressed their folk music influences through the use of Celtic mythology and imagery in their lyrics and albums.
The 1970s (I)
A. Mainstream (AOR) Rock
1. Carole King : "It's Too Late" (Carole King)
Singer-songwriters (e.g., James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman) formed another category of mainstream 1970s pop. Carole King -- former Brill Building songwriter -- scored the biggest success with her LP Tapestry, which was the #1 pop LP, spawned four top singles, appeared for 301 weeks on the charts, and eventually sold over 13 million copies. At the 1971 Grammy ceremonies, she won awards for Best Album, Best Female Vocalist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. Like most of the cuts on Tapestry, "It's Too Late" is a song about a highly personal experience (carefully designed to appeal to millions of listeners), framed with an intimate arrangement which focuses attention on King's voice and piano. Two weeks after the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar", "It's Too Late" moved into the #1 spot on the pop charts.
2. Elton John : "Crocodile Rock" (Elton John and Bernie Taupin)
Elton John was the preeminent rock superstar of the 1970s, producing 15 gold albums, 23 singles in the Top 40, and 5 that reached #1. The son of a trumpeter in the English Royal Air Force band, Reginald Dwight won a piano scholarship at the age of 11. At age 17 he began playing with a London-based blues band called Bluesology; his stage name is derived from the names of two members of that band (Elton Dean and John Baldry). In 1967 he began his successful partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Elton's distinctive nasal tenor voice, gospel-chorded piano (inspired by Neil Sedaka), wild stage performances (derived from Jerry Lee Lewis), and extravagant public image (including a $40,000 collection of eyeglasses) propelled him to massive success. "Crocodile Rock", John's first #1 single, represents the rise of 50s nostalgia, packaged in a slick form befitting corporate rock of the 1970s. In order to evoke the 1950s, John uses doo-wop style singing and a strictly recreated (and therefore exaggerated) rock 'n' roll dance beat.
Stevie Wonder is an African American singer/songwriter who got his start in Motown in the 1960s. Breaking with the constraints of Motown in 1971, he renegotiated his contract to give him full artistic control over his music. Wonder was able to do many of his recording and composing work himself, as we can see in his song, "Superstition". Wonder plays most of the instruments himself, through the process of overdubbing. A studio technique pioneered by Buddy Holly, overdubbing allows instruments and vocals to be added to an original master recording seperately and independent from each other.
4. Eagles : "Hotel California"
The 1970s saw the emergence of a new category designating slickly produced rock music aimed at a wide (mainly white) audience: AOR (Album Oriented Rock). Los Angeles, center of the film and television industries, became an important center of rock production, and several L.A. bands had huge successes during the mid-late 1970s. The Eagles, a southern California band with roots in folk-rock and country-rock, were formed 1971 by drummer Don Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey. Guitarist Joe Walsh joined in 1975. They were very successful, scoring 16 Top 40 hits during the 1970s. The Eagles' sound was based upon tight vocal harmonies, careful arrangements and studio production, and fine guitar work. The LP Hotel California won the Album of the Year Grammy in 1977, and sold 11 million copies worldwide. The single "Hotel California" combines aspects of rock, country music, and reggae (particularly noticeable in the rhythm guitar parts). The lyric presents a surrealistic portrayal of cut-throat life in Hollywood, with images derived in part from horror movies. Many music critics hated them for their AOR success, and the band split up in 1981.
5. Fleetwood Mac : "Go Your Own Way" (Stevie Nicks)
L.A.-based band with massive AOR success in the late 1970s was Fleetwood Mac,
which began life in 1967 as a British blues band. Founding members included
Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass); McVie's wife Christine Perfect
joined as vocalist/guitarist in 1970. The band moved to L.A. in 1975, where the
came into contact with singer-songwriter duo Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie
Nicks. By the time of their great commercial success in the late 1970s, the
band had three strong songwriters (Buckingham, Nicks, and C. McVie). Fleetwood
Mac's 1977 LP Rumours sold over 15 million copies, and maintained the #1
position of the pop charts for 31 weeks. It was also the first LP to produce 4
Top Ten hits, including "Go Your Own Way", a carefully crafted song
with a syncopated vocal line, memorable chorus, sweet vocal harmonies, and
slick studio production.
B. Art Rock and Glam
6. Emerson, Lake and Palmer : Excerpts from "Pictures at an Exhibition" (Moussorgsky; arr. Emerson)
Although it is now often derided by rock critics for its pretensiousness, art rock (sometimes called "progressive rock") was an important branch of pop music in the early 1970s. The quintessential art rock band -- with all of the strengths and weaknesses of the genre -- was Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP). Keyboardist Keith Emerson, bassist Greg Lake, and drummer Carl Palmer formed ELP in 1969. They became enormously popular in the early 1970s. Emerson, a classically-trained pianist and former member of the early art-rock group The Nice, had a reputation for technical virtuosity and acrobatic stage performances. Lake, who wrote the acoustic ballads that were the group's biggest hits, had worked with King Crimson. ELP made their debut at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, playing Emerson's arrangement of Moussorgsky's composition Pictures at an Exhibition, later made into an LP. The band's success was based in large part on its concert performances, featuring elaborate stage props, pseudo-symphonic music, and bombastic special effects.
7. David Bowie : "Ziggy Stardust"
The glam-rock movement of the early 1970s, featuring androgynous stars in high-fashion costumes, actually included a variety of groups: the proto heavy metal of T. Rex; "glitter punks" like the New York Dolls; and the theatrical experiments of U.K. rock singer and composer David Bowie. Bowie's early performances included work with a mime troupe and several television commercials. Introduced to the glam scene by his friend Marc Bolan of T. Rex, Bowie invented a dramatic character for himself, the doomed pop icon Ziggy Stardust. The live show The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars featured Bowie in futuristic costumes, orange hair, and glittery makeup. The LP Ziggy Stardust sold a million copies, and got Bowie's long career as a pop star started.
8. Donna Summer [Munich, 1975]: "Love to Love You, Baby" (Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote)
Discos or discotheques--places where people danced to recorded music--were already well established in the early 1960s, when they helped to popularize the Twist and other dance steps. They were driven underground by a change of taste during the 1960s, in which mainstream pop music came to be intended for listening rather than dancing, and the live concert became the standard evening's entertainment for pop audiences. When discos re-emerged in the early 1970s they featured a more specialized dance music derived primarily from black styles, but featuring a lush, smoothed-out sound and a thudding bass drum stroke on all four beats of the measure. The real stars of this music were neither the composers nor performers, nor even the producers, but the "disc jockeys" who carefully chose sequences of records with compatible tempos and moods that could segue smoothly into each other and build a feeling of communal ecstasy on the dance floor. Many of the records used were made by ad hoc assemblages of studio musicians and were either purely instrumental or had vocals with minimal lyrical content expressing nothing but pleasure.
The de-emphasis of meaningful lyrics and of audience identification with star performers meant that disco was more open to influences from continental Europe than the Anglo-American mainstream had been. This influence appeared in the form of "Eurodisco" groups like Kraftwerk, and also of the then unknown Donna Summer, who ironically turned out to be the one enduring star that the disco scene produced. Though African American by birth she had been living in Munich since 1968 when she appeared there in the German production of the counter-culture musical Hair. Summer's debut single, "Love to Love You, Baby," was released in various versions, of which the one on this cd is the shortest. It reached American discos in several extended forms and set a precedent for 12-inch singles as the medium in which disco records could sustain a dance groove through a number of contrasting sections: notice the part, for example, where Summer's voice is accompanied only by a cymbal. The record was notorious also for Summer's moans of sexual pleasure, singled out by detractors of disco (who were numerous) as typical of the lyrical inarticulateness of the genre.
9. The Village People [New York, 1978]: "Y.M.C.A." (Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo, and Victor Willis)
In the early 1970s, the rock 'n' roll core of the music industry was becoming more and more exclusively white and male-dominated, and those who felt shut out--women, blacks, and gays--often found the disco scene a suitable outlet. In particular, the gay culture played a special role in developing both the social ethos and the musical style of disco, and there was undoubtedly an element of homophobia as well as racism in the "disco sucks" backlash that marked the end of the decade. At a time when many gays were no longer in the closet but were not very welcome out of it, and before the emergence of AIDS brought the "party" to an end, the casual, anonymous encounters that discos encouraged often seemed safer than a visible, long-term relationship. The group that came to define this homoerotic aspect of disco was the Village People, who took their name from Greenwich Village, New York City.
Greenwich Village was already known as the hub of the urban folk music scene during the 1960s; its importance to the gay culture was brought to the public eye in 1969 when a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the neighborhood, sparked a riot which became a turning point of the gay rights movement. Some years later, when producer Jacques Morali spotted a group of "macho men" dancing together in a Greenwich Village bar, he had the idea of turning them into a singing and dancing disco group with a touch of camp. Though the Village People's image was based on a gay vision of masculinity, featuring cartoon-like male stereotypes of the cowboy, the construction worker, the "leatherman" and so on, they also appealed to heterosexual women and could be enjoyed as a novelty act even by those who did not understand their "in jokes" about the gay possibilities inherent in masculine organizations such as the Navy and the Y.M.C.A. These organizations were not always happy about getting the kind of publicity that the Village People gave them, but the songs enjoyed a brief popularity which succombed eventually to the tension between appealing to a broad audience and maintaining the gay subtext.
10. Chic : "Good Times"
Chic was formed around the work of guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards in the late 1970s. Their first hit in disco came in 1977, while 1978 and 1979 saw two huge hits: "Le Freak" and "Good Times". Following the disco craze, Rodgers went on to produce albums for artists like David Bowie and Madonna.
"Good Times" is a prototypical disco album in many ways. Centered around a powerful beat, it is clearly a track cut for dancing and partying. Every beat is covered by the bass and the drums, making a hypnotic, thumping rhythm that propels the song from start to finish. What disco rhythm lacked in syncopation it made up for in sheer tenacity. The concepts of beginning and end had little meaning in discotheques, as disco DJs were remarkably adept at switching to a new record as soon as one record was over. Using two turntables linked together and controls that varied the speed, the DJs were able to match the tempo (speed of the beats) of the record being played with the tempo of the next record in the queue. This meant that they could switch from record to record without ever skipping a beat. Some of the great discotheques provided a wonderworld of endless dancing, partying, drugs, and euphoria.
11. The Bee Gees [New York, 1977]: "Night Fever" (Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb)
It was no accident that disco rose from its sub-culture origins to become a mass phenomenon through the medium of film, since the instrumental emphasis and dramatic sectional forms of records like Donna Summer's "Love to Love You, Baby" often had the quality of a movie soundtrack. In 1977, when John Travolta starred in Saturday Night Fever as a working-class Italian American boy in search of glamour through disco dancing, the movie and its music reached as wide an audience as any of its competitors. It was filmed in a real disco, the 2001 Odyssey in Brooklyn, and severed itself from any gay associations by making its central characters aggressively heterosexual and homophobic (as well as racist and sexist); apparently these attitudes did not alienate too many viewers. The soundtrack double album by the Bee Gees sold more copies than any album up to that time, and has since been surpassed only by Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The Bee Gees were three brothers (B.G. stands for "Brothers Gibb") born in Manchester, England, who had been teenage stars in Australia during the 1960s. Their hallmark was the somewhat androgynous breathy high-pitched vocals featured in "Night Fever" as well as other hit songs from the movie including "Jive Talking," "Stayin' Alive," and "How Deep is Your Love?" They were never able to approach the popular success of this album again, though their moment of glory had been longer than that of many disco artists, and at the present time they are among the many groups from the seventies attempting a come-back.
The 1970s (II)
A. Punk and New Wave
1. Velvet Underground : "I'm Waiting for the Man"
Although the Velvet Underground never sold many records, their intentionally crude sound and alienated lyrics influenced many important figures in the Punk/New Wave movement of the 1970s. Pop-artist Andy Warhol discovered the group in 1966 at the Cafe Bizarre in NYC, and produced their first album (with a peelable picture of a banana on its cover). Guitarist/vocalist Lou Reed and viola player John Cale, former students of classical music, were the key members. Their style combined a loud, repetitive, minimalist sound -- deliberately designed to be 'uncommercial' -- with lyrics focused on alienation, sado-masochism, drug addiction, and violence. "I'm Waiting for the Man" is a description of Reed's journey to Harlem to buy heroin from a pusher.
2. The Ramones : "I Wanna Be Sedated"
Ramones' quintessential punk sound -- simple, high-speed, energetic guitar
chords without solos -- influenced London punk groups and also became a blue
print for L.A. hardcore bands. Although they project a street-tough image, all
are from middle class Queens families. Their manager Danny Fields had
previously worked with MC5, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Lou Reed. The Ramones
gained popularity playing at CBGB&OMFUG; (Country, Bluegrass, Blues and
Other Music for Urban Gourmets), a Bowery bar that was a center of the NYC
alternative music scene in the mid-1970s. They were one of the first of the
CBGB bands to sign a record contract, with the indie label Sire. The Ramones'
1976 tour of England inspired many London Punk musicians. Their style was
influenced by the Stooges, bubblegum music and surf music. "I Wanna Be
Sedated" is a parody of the Beach Boys' style.
3. Talking Heads : "Psycho Killer"
Talking Heads, formed in 1975 by design-school graduates David Byrne and Chris Frantz, represents the more self-consciously "artsy" side of the New York new wave club scene. They played their first shows at CBGB&OMFUG (Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Urban Gourmets), a Bowery bar that was a center of the N.Y. punk scene in the mid-1970s. Their sound -- featuring Byrne's trembling high-pitched voice and eclectic songwriting -- is very different from that of the Ramones, with whom they toured in the early days. Talking Heads have drawn the elements of funk, minimalism, and African rhythms, creating some of the most adventurous and danceable new wave music. Brian Eno produced three of their albums.
4. The Sex Pistols : "Anarchy in the UK"
The owner of a London "anti-fashion" boutique, Sex, Malcolm McLaren had first managed a glam-rock group, the New York Dolls, in 1975. McLaren conceived the idea of a Rock and roll band that would challenge the mainstream pop music industry. Glen Matlock (bass), Paul Cook (drums) and Steve James (guitar) were regular customers at the shop, and they were looking for a singer. McLaren found Johnny Rotten (who had never sung before), and formed the Sex Pistols in 1975. England's biggest and most conservative record label signed Sex Pistols in October, 1976, and they released the first single, "Anarchy in the UK," in December. That month, Rotten uttered an obscenity during a TV interview, and in January '77 EMI terminated their contract. In March, Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious. A&M; signed up the Pistols only to drop them the next week. In May, Virgin signed them and released their second single, "God Save the Queen." Despite being banned from airplay, the song went to #2 on the British charts (cited as a blank). The Sex Pistols broke up in January 1978, during their only U.S. tour.
5. The Clash : "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A."
Joe Strummer, the son of a British diplomat, quit school and formed a pub-rock band called The 101'ers. After seeing the Sex Pistols, Strummer formed the Clash. While Sex Pistols were nihilists, the Clash were more explicitly political, performing songs about racism and police brutality. The Clash were also more ambitious musically, incorporating elements of reggae, rockabilly, zydeco and other styles into a rock 'n' roll format. British CBS signed the Clash in 1977. Although their debut album was not offically released in the U.S., it was the biggest-selling import album up to that time, selling 100,000 copies. The Clash has continued to be active in political causes and have performed benefit concerts for Rock Against Racism. "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A." is a response to American domination of popular culture in Europe; its main lyric line is a parody of songs like the Beach Boys' "Surfin' U.S.A.".
6. X-Ray Spex : "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" (Styrene)
This song became a punk classic and was part of a movement which reclaimed punk and the punk stage for women. The song begins with a girl-power manifesto and then immediately enters into a hard punk sound with crazy imagery that appealed to a lot of people. Poly Styrene was the leader and singer of the group and along side her was Lora Logic on saxophone. Together these two women set the sound for punk music in the British scene, stretching the idea of what women should and do sound like. The other members of the band were Jak Airport Stafford on guitar, Paul Dean on bass, and B.P. Hurding on drums. Although Poly was basically the front for an almost all-male band her music would inspire a new generation of all-girl punk rock. Poly broke the band up when she realized it had become a commodity as a part of the mass-marketed punk rebellion.
7. The Slits : "Instant Hit"
The Slits formed in London in 1976. The original line up featured Kate Chorus (aka Korris) on Guitar (later replaced by Viv Albertine), Suzi Gutsy on Bass (later Tessa Pollit), Ari Up (aka Arianna Forster) on vocals, and Palmolive (aka Paloma Romero) on drums. They were the first all girl Punk band. Their music was influenced by rock, jazz, reggae, punk, funk, and African music. They would often come on stage with outrageous costumes, sometimes covered in mud in only their underwear. Their music was sometimes referred to as "primal punk" and the band members often talked about "natural rhythms" and "primal consciousness". The group aimed to break down boundaries between punk and rock music by experimenting with sounds, rhythms, and musical genres not usually associated with the British punk scene.
This song comes off of the "Peel sessions" album, recorded over two years (1977-78) but not released as an album until 1987, well after the band had split up. The Slits struggled to score a record deal. By the time they signed to Island Records in late '78 Palmolive had left the band to form The Raincoats & had been replaced with Budgie (later to become part of Siouxshie and the Banshees). The Slits broke up at the end of 1981, still largely a cult band.
8. Patti Smith : "Gloria" (Smith/Van Morrison)
Patti Smith emerged from the underground music scene in New York in the mid-1970s. She was well-known as a resident poet of the CBGB club in New York City, the birthplace of the American punk rock movement.
This song opens with the line "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine", perhaps one of the most shocking lyrics at the time. This performance is based on the 1964 Van Morrison song which Smith re-worked for her own band, creating a montage of church and Van Morrison. She took a classic American rock song and transformed it for the punk stage, with creative musical arrangements and new lyrical content which brought out the issue of gay relationships. Smith is singing about a lesbian sexual encounter (Morrison's version was a boy-girl encounter).
9. Sly and the Family Stone : "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)"
Sly and The Family Stone helped to establish funk music, a genre which simultaneously reached down into basic principles of African American music -- repetitive patterns, interlocking rhythms, call-and-response, and rhythmic momentum or "groove" -- and extended out to incorporate aspects of rock music. Sylvester Stewart's family moved from Texas to San Francsico in the 1950s. He began his musical career as a gospel singer, studied music theory and composition in college, and became a popular disc-jockey on a local soul station. Sly formed his band in 1966, and created a style that blended jazz, R&B;, San Francisco psychedelia, and lyrics with social messages. The band's popularity was boosted by a fiery appearance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. "Thank You..." was a #1 single on the pop and R&B; charts in 1970. It features Larry Graham's prominent bass line -- a profound influence on later funk bands -- an approach to arrangement which brings the whole band into the rhythm section (an idea pioneered by James Brown), and jazz-influenced horns.
10. Parliament : "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" (Clinton-Collins-Worrell)
The apotheosis of funk music was a loose aggregate of musicians called Parliament (a.k.a. Funkadelics), led by George Clinton (a.k.a. Dr. Funkenstein). Clinton, an ex-Motown vocal group leader, hung out with hippies, listened to Iggy Pop, and changed style radically in the late 1960s. Enlisting some ex-members of James Brown's band (e.g., bassist Bootsy Collins), he developed a mixture of compelling polyrhythms, psychedelic guitar, jazz-influenced horn arrangements and R&B; vocal harmonies. Clinton expressed an alternative black sensibility, embodied in street talk and science fiction-derived images of intergalactic travel. He took stereotypes and stood them on their heads, reconfiguring funk -- a term originally used to describe unpleasant odors -- as a positive human quality. "Give Up the Funk..." (#5 R&B; #15 pop) was Parliament's biggest hit. It exemplifies Clinton's brand of "deep funk": heavy bass; interlocking rhythms; a strong groove; jazz-influenced horn solos; and verbal mottoes designed to be performed by fans: "Free Your Mind, and Your Ass Will Follow".
11. Parliament : "Flashlight" (Clinton-Collins)
This piece exemplifies the use of the synthesizer as a bass instrument and the groups heavy reliance on "the one" or the downbeat. This performance features George Clinton on vocals and Bootsy Collins on bass. Flashlight is polyrhythmic with a cyclical form. The band used extravagant costumes and stage sets and this tune usually was accompanied by the landing of "the mothership" with Dr.Funkenstein (George Clinton, the leader of the group) entering the stage from inside the spaceship. Flashlight was recently covered in the hit movie "Muppets From Space", which featured a duet between George Clinton and Pepe the King Prawn.
12. Skatalites : "Guns of Navarone" (C. Dodd)
Ska was an early form of Jamaican popular music that led to the development of reggae. Deriving from the popularity of American jazz and R&B records in Jamaica, ska combined the orchestration of swing bands with traditional Jamaican rhythms and R&B rhythms. The crossover of ska music to England and eventually America is the beginning of Jamaican music's international appeal. Millie Lane, a popular singer from Jamaica, had a huge hit in England and the US with her song "My Boy Lollipop" in 1964. This paved the way for other Jamaican artists to start crossing over. Ska music itself has recently been experiencing periodic revivals in the US.
The Skatalites were formed in 1963 from a conglomeration of excellent studio session musicians. Among their ranks was the brilliant but crazy trombonist Don Drummond. They were mainly a studio band and recorded songs that are considered classics of ska music. The song "Guns of Navarone" is an adaptation of the main musical theme from the Hollywood movie of the same name from 1961. Many ska hits were instrumentals and vocals were generally not as important in ska music as instrumental melodies. The ska rhythm, as can be heard in this recording, is characterized by sharp offbeats played by the horns, giving the music a jumpy feel. This rhythm would later develop into the characteristic rhythm of reggae music. Indeed, the name "ska" comes from the harsh and choppy sound of the ska offbeat rhythm.
13. Jimmy Cliff (Kingston, 1972): "The Harder They Come"
As the star of the film The Harder They Come and its soundtrack album, Cliff helped popularize reggae outside of Jamaica. Like Ivan, the character he portrayed in the film, he left his rural home for Kingston when he was barely a teenager. He arrived in the city in 1962, and recorded his first record within a year. Working with producer Leslie Kong, he generated a series of Jamaican top ten hits during the mid-1960s. While performing at the N.Y. World's Fair, Cliff met Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who convinced him to move to London in 1965. After working as a backup singer and scoring a few hits on the European charts, he returned to Jamaica in 1969 and recorded "Many Rivers to Cross", which inspired director Perry Henzel to offer him the lead role in The Harder They Come. The film debuted in the U.S. in 1973, starting a reggae craze. The rebellious spirit of the music and its associations with Rastafarianism and ganja smoking appealed to college students. "The Harder They Come" exemplifies reggae style of the early 1970s: moderate tempo; strong up-beats on guitar; gospel-influenced singing; and a lyric about resistance to oppression.
14. Bob Marley and the Wailers (Kingston, 1973): "Get Up, Stand Up" (Marley)
Tremendously popular in their native Jamaica, where leader Bob Marley is regarded as a national hero, the Wailers were reggae's most effective international ambassadors. Marley's songs of determination, rebellion, and faith, rooted in Rastafarianism, found a worldwide audience. The son of a British naval officer who left when he was 6 years old, Marley came to Kingston from the rural parish of St. Ann at the age of 14. His career reflects the economic precariousness of the music industry in a Third World setting. After a few singles for producer Leslie Kong, Marley formed the Wailers (including Peter Tosh) in 1963, and signed with Coxsone Dodd's studios. Following a long period with little financial success (including a year of factory work for Marley in Wilmington, Delaware), the Wailers signed with Lee Perry, who added Aston and Carlton Barrett, a masterful bassist-and-drummer "riddim" section.
In 1972 Chris Blackwell signed the Wailers to Island Records and advanced them the money to record themselves at their independent Tuff Gong studio in Jamaica. Their recognition abroad was boosted by the success of Eric Clapton's cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" from their second Island LP. Marley expanded the rhythm section of the group and added a female vocal trio, the I-Threes. They had a series of U.S. Top Forty hits during the mid-late 1970s, including "No Woman No Cry", "Exodus" and "Jamming". Wounded in a politically-motivated assassination attempt in 1976, Marley died of cancer in 1981, at the age of 36.
15. Eric Clapton (London, 1974): "I Shot the Sheriff" (Marley)
This song became a big comeback hit for British guitarist Eric Clapton. Although there were earlier attempts to introduce Jamaican influence into mainstream pop (e.g., Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now", #1 in the U.S. in 1972, and Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion", a #4 U.S. hit recorded in Kingston in 1972), Clapton's recording was the most influential, introducing reggae to a wider rock-oriented audience.
CD # 10
1. Eurythmics (1983): "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
The Eurythmics, a Scottish group, exemplifies MTV's early commitment to including white rock acts from nations other than the U.S. (while still excluding artists of color, of course). But vocalist-songwriter Annie Lennox and songwriter-musician Dave Stewart managed to use the position to create a musical image that tested and played with politics and gender conventions. Featuring a techno-pop sound and Lennox's haunting melodic hooks, the video for "Sweet Dreams" features Lennox in drag in order to play with androgyny and power. In Eurythmics' subsequent hits, Lennox continued the costume trend, dressing as everything from a platinum "floozy" to a postmodern Elvis. Her tactic was to use the over-the-top glamour and excess of video to garner serious clout as an artist and to make some sort of social commentary, a technique she has continued as a successful solo artist.
2. Michael Jackson (1983): "Beat It"
With "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," from the album Thriller, released almost simultaneously, Michael Jackson became the first artist of the 1980s to have two songs on the Billboard top five at the same time. MTV had previously billed itself as a rock channel, refusing to play videos from or feature Black artists or genres, in one of the most insidious displays of racism since the payola scandal. But Michael Jackson's enormous mainstream success forced the station to begin including African-Americans. Michael consequently made MTV famous and became one of the first and biggest video stars. A great innovator, he pushed the limits of the video medium by spending relatively large amounts on production and hiring a film director to shoot his fifteen-minute mini-movie "Thriller." The video for "Beat It" depicts a gang fight in the form of ensemble dance and features professional dancers as well as actual L.A. gang members. Rocker Eddie Van Halen is the guitarist and also serves as evidence of the influence of rock as well as funk and dance music on Jackson's sound. Michael's skill as a dancer and vocalist, as well as his charismatic (if sometimes shocking or troubled) personality, are demonstrated here.
3. Madonna (1984): "Like A Virgin"
Madonna, a former dancer, club star, and dance/disco diva, used the medium of video to become a rock/pop star and to challenge conventional notions of morality and propriety. Starting with songs from Like a Virgin (the album), Madonna had 12 top ten hits in a row between 1984 and 1987. Her emphasis on sexuality and her penchant for Christian iconography have made her a shockingly disturbing figure for parents and shockingly tantalizing for their kids. This ability to generate controversy has served Madonna well over the years and, along with her inimitable talent for reinventing herself to fit the times, can be credited with establishing her prolific (and apparently never-ending!) career. Madonna's performance of "Like a Virgin" at the MTV Video Music Awards, during which she wore a modified bridal gown and writhed sexually, demonstrated the goal of both Madonna and the song to play with the opposition between the images of virgin and whore as a metaphor for starting over and recreating oneself.
4. Cyndi Lauper (1983): "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" (Hazard)
Cyndi Lauper is a singer/songwriter from NYC who has been performing and touring since the early 80s. In 1983 she released her first solo album "She's So Unusual" which had four top five singles (including Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), a first for a female artist on the pop music charts. Lauper was always interested in having total control of her image and sound. Her music represents a girl/woman-positive image that challenges the sexist ideas that continue to permeate the pop music industry.
The song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was originally written by Robert Hazard. When Lauper first heard the song she despised it because of its misogynistic lyrics. She decided to perform the song with new lyrics which she wrote, working off of Hazard's original song. The song was transformed and became a song about reclamation, a place where "girl" things were now viewed in a positive light. Lauper's new version destroyed stereotypes and challenged the idea that girls simply wanted to have fun. The video debuted on MTV in 1983 and was filmed at Lauper's childhood home with her own mother making a guest appearance. Lauper quickly became an MTV favourite and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" became a girl-power classic. Lauper was recognized with several music awards for this album including a Grammy for best new artist, she continues to record and tour today.
Example of original lyrics:
My father says, "My
Lauper's new lyrics:
My mother says, "When
B. Heavy Metal
5. Deep Purple (1972): "Smoke On The Water"
Deep Purple's two great instrumental talents, Ritchie Blackmore (guitar) and Jon Lord (organ) were both classically trained. For this and other reasons, Deep Purple-as well as Led Zeppelin and others-represents the links in the evolutionary chain between progressive rock and heavy metal. What began to make the music "heavy" can be heard here-a thick, studio-produced timbre; a rich bass sound; a simplicity more akin to punk than progressive rock; and, when played as it was meant to be played, sheer volume. "Smoke on the Water" became a hit single; although the title conjures up images of marijuana use, the song is actually about the band's near disastrous concert with Frank Zappa.
6. Judas Priest (1982): "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"
Led by vocalist Rob Halford and the power guitar duo of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, Judas Priest ('Priest' or merely 'JP' to their fans) were ten-year veterans of Britain's metal scene when they hit it big in the early '80's. What allowed the band to break through was MTV: Halford's black-leather-and-studs appearance and screaming vocals and the duels of Downing and Tipton made the band instantly recognizable and defined the imagery of early-'80's European metal. "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" was as close as Judas Priest ever got to having a hit single. Its' video boasted exploding guitars AND an exploding British businessman. The song also represents an important genre within metal: the 'anthem,' a moderate-tempo piece with strong, simple lyrics of rebellion, likely to bring the crowd to a frenzied response in concert.
C. Rap and Hiphop
7. Sugar Hill Gang: [New York, 1979]: "Rapper's Delight" (Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards)
This was the record that moved rap from a local music founded in the Harlem and Bronx sections of New York City to a national audience. The rappers, "Big Bank Hank," Jackson, Guy "Master Gee" O'Brien and "Wonder Mike" Wright borrowed rhymes from another rapper, Grandmaster Caz, and recorded them over the rhythm track to the song "Good Times," by the seventies funk group Chic. Chic founders Rodgers and Edwards sued the newly formed Sugar Hill Records for stealing their music, which was recorded by a live studio band, and the case was settled out of court. The infectious rhythmic groove and bravado party lyrics helped the record sell a million copies in the United States and another million world-wide. Sugar Hill Gang never had another hit, but the song launched rap as a new American popular musical genre.
8. NWA: [Los Angeles, 1988]: "Fuck Tha Police" (Ice Cube, MC Ren)
This was the song that sparked the rise of hardcore gangster rap and put West Coast rap on the musical map. NWA hailed from the tough city of Compton, near Los Angeles. The group's first single was 1986's "Boyz N' The Hood, and their debut album "Straight Outta Compton," reached platinum status with virtually no radio airplay. "Fuck Tha Police" was the album's top single, and prompted protests by police departments across the country because of its controversial, violence-laden lyrics. The sonically dense music was both powerful and polished, and showed sophisticated studio techniques by producer Dr. Dre. Ice Cube, the group's lead lyricist and Dre went on to become major entertainment impresarios. The group's founder, Eazy-E, who also started Ruthless Records, died of an AIDS related illness in 1995.
9. Public Enemy [New York, 1989]: "Fight the Power" (ChuckD, Flavor Flav, Prof. Griff, Terminator X)
Public Enemy, led by the powerful rapping and presence of Chuck D, was one of the most influential groups of the 1980s and was the most visible proponents of a radical, black nationalist hip hop tinge. Albums like "Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)," "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (1988)"and "Fear of a Black Planet (1990)" remade the hip hop soundscape. With studio production by the Hank Shocklee and the Bomb Squad, the group produced layered dense rhythms, samples and loops, creating sonic textures not heard before in rap music. This song features Terminator X's hard, funky beats and incendiary lyrics by Chuck D, the group's front man.
10. Queen Latifah: "U.N.I.T.Y." (1993)
By the end of the 1980s, rap was being roundly chastised for bigotry, sexism, and/or violence by its (often conservative) detractors. Women's voices in hip-hop, with the exception of a few artists such as Roxanne Shanté, had thus far been fewer and farther between than men's, in a pattern not unlike most of the pop music genres we have studied in this class. As female artists like Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lyte began to criticize the absence of women's voices and demand a place for women in rap with their music, critics and hip-hop detractors tended to portray women rappers as a female corrective to adolescent male sexual ranting. But the issue was much more complex than a simple opposition between male/sexism and female/feminism. Issues of racism and racial solidarity in the face of a racist mainstream music industry complicated the position of women in hip-hop. The woman who best managed this conflict was Queen Latifah. Latifah presented herself as a strong, independent African-American woman. Her forceful, skilled rhymes established her as a talent equal of male MCs, while her pro-woman and pro-Black themes, evidenced in songs like "U.N.I.T.Y.," called for respect for everyone.
11. Nappy Roots : "Awnaw"
A group of hip-hop artists hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, Nappy Roots represent the growing field of Southern rap. Their debut album release, "Watermelon, Chicken, & Gritz" was the top selling hip hop album of 2002. Their fame started local, however, and continues to be local as well as international. The governor of Kentucky named a day in 2002 "Nappy Roots Day", a move reminiscent of the popularity of Bill Monroe's song "Blue Moon of Kentucky", which was later made the state song. Could it be that "Awnaw" is on its way to becoming the new state song of Kentucky? Only time will tell.
Nappy Roots lyrics focus on images of southern country life, and their videos reflect this as well. The video for "Awnaw" was shot primarily in a barn, and features visuals of the rappers hanging out in fields and around shotgun shacks in the South. The lyrics of "Awnaw" reference stereotypes of rural Southern living, like smoking blunts on the back porch, the "country boy" lifestyle, hot temperatures, and the traditional song lyric "Jimmy Crack Corn". Nappy Roots also have outside influences, as evidenced in the Jamaican ragga sound of MC R. Prophet, the track "Headz Up" from the same album features a sitar sample. Though they have expressed a desire not to be pigeonholed as merely Southern rappers, they clearly have made their mark by presenting Southern culture to the mainly Northern world of American hip hop.
12. Sudden Rush : "Hi'ilawe"
A stellar example of the use of hip hop as a marker of identity, the group Sudden Rush is one of the founders of Na Mele Paleoleo (Hawaiian hip hop). Led by "Radical Rob" Onekea, the group combines hip hop with other musical forms from the islands. Though Sudden Rush originally used the Hawaiian language as the language of choice in their lyrics, their CD "Ea" from 2002 features mostly English language rap and lyrics. They haven't left behind their culture or their politics, however, as the message of the group is still one of solidarity and independence in a land ruled by American culture. Through their music, they hope to speak out against American dominance of the islands and for Hawaiian sovereignty, an often contentious subject. Popular music in Hawaii is often dominated by the "Jawaiian" sound, a mixture of reggae, dancehall, and Hawaiian themes, and as a result, Sudden Rush were originally an underground sensation. With the release of "Ea", however, they are moving into the mainstream of Hawaiian and even "world" music.
The track "Hi'ilawe" is built around a sampled song of Gabby Pahinui's. Gabby Pahinui and his large family ('ohana) are masters of the Hawaiian slack-key guitar (a style of guitar playing unique to the Hawaiian Islands). Though Pahinui died in 1980, Sudden Rush resurrected this track, "updating" it with strong beats and rap lyrics both in English and in Hawaiian, all with the express permission of the Pahinui family. The single was very popular in Hawaii and helped Sudden Rush establish themselves as the leaders in Hawaiian hip hop.
1. R.E.M.: "The One I Love" (1987)
When four undergraduates at the University of Georgia-Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry-decided to form a band in 1980 and play a few parties, the little college town of Athens, Georgia, was becoming a hip local music scene, already having spawned the B-52's. Their idiosyncratic blend of folk, rock, and pop landed them first on the tiny Hib-Tone label then on the more widely distributed IRS. For the next few years R.E.M. toured hard, became the darlings of college radio, and garnered impressive reviews. Their stature on the charts also increased, and in 1987 their album Document cracked the Top Ten, and the song "The One I Love" hit #9. The next year the band landed a major-label contract with Warner Bros. The band is often credited for pushing (in its own subtle way) "indie rock" into the mainstream, and although now reduced to a trio R.E.M. continues to be a strong presence in American popular music.
2. Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1991)
Nirvana (est. 1987) might have just been another punk band from the tiny logging town of Aberdeen, Washington. Instead they first got signed by Sub Pop, the Motown of Seattle's music scene, and then were the subject of a major-label bidding war that landed them a contract with the David Geffen Company. With release of Nevermind and the hit song and video "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Kurt Cobain, in a way reminiscent of Dylan 30 years before, suddenly was being called 'spokesperson of a generation' and the embodiment of the disillusionment of "Generation X." Seattle, meanwhile, became for some time the most hyped music scene in the US. Yet Dylan could handle success, if by casting off his reputation; Cobain never wanted fame, and he was driven to a suicide in 1994 that was at once bemoaned wildly by his huge fan base and once again hyped by the media.
3. Hole: "Violet" (1994)
3. Hole: "Violet" (1994)
The band Hole of this particular recording consists of Courtney Love, vocals and guitar, Eric Eriandson, guitars, Kristen Pfaff (who later passed), bass, and Patty Schemel, drums. The song "Violet" comes from their second album titled "Live Through This". Courtney Love, the forerunner of the band, has garnered much media attention for her often boisterous persona. The music of the band has often been overshadowed by the music industries continuous focus on Love's often volatile image and her marriage to Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. Love has said "I put as much thought into the way we sound as Pavement or Sonic Youth do but no one ever asks about the music. It's like my persona - boom, knocks everything else out". The band Hole was a force in the alternative music scene outside of Love's continuous media attack and their music challenged notions of embedded misogyny within the music industry. The songs from "Live Through This" address a number of issues ranging from rape, to bulimia, femininity, and the music industry. Courtney Love's mixed image, of aggression and extreme femininity, challenges listeners to look beyond image and traditional ideas of beauty. Love attacks traditional female stereotypes in the music industry through the musical and lyrical content and ingenuity of Hole's music.
4. Bikini Kill: "Suck My Left One" (1992)
Spreading manifestos and testimonials through records, support groups, and fanzines, Bikini Kill helped spearhead the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement of women reclaiming punk's radical energy for their own catharsis and general social revolution. Bikini Kill, formed in 1991 in Olympia, was a mixed-gender group made up of drummer Tobi Vail, guitarist Billy "Boredom" Karren, bassist Kathi Wilcox, and singer Kathleen Hanna. The band and especially Hanna often executed in-your-face stage antics, including sending the men to the back of the mosh pit and Hanna performing shirtless with the word "slut" written across her stomach, to the tune of a grunge/punk blend of loud guitars. Their songs were equally as intense; "Suck My Left One" is an angry diatribe against a father who molests his daughter. Both Sonic Youth and Joan Jett took Bikini Kill under their wings in their early years, but the band itself had a significant influence on other girl punk bands (such as Tribe 8 and the Butchies) and on the Riot Grrrl movement. Tobi Vail, actually coined the term "grrrl" as a parody of the term "womyn" in the 1970s women's movement: This was not your mother's feminism; these were women with loud voices and loud guitars who were often very angry about their own subjugation and not afraid to do something about it. Unfortunately, however, the Riot Grrrl movement in its original form was short-lived: As the mainstream media got hold of and distorted it, many of its proponents became disillusioned. Its influence lives on in the music of bands like Sleater-Kinney and the Gossip.
5. 7 Year Bitch: "Dead Men Can't Rape" (1992)
This band originated in 1990 in Seattle, WA. This song comes from their first album titled "Sick 'Em". The original members of the band were: Stephanie Sargent on guitar, Elizabeth Davis, bass, Valerie Agnew, drums, and Selene Vigil, vocals. Sargent passed away in 1992 and was replaced by Roisin Dunne and later Lisa Faye Beatty.
In 1994 the band released their second album "Via Zapata" as a tribute to Mia Zapata, the lead singer of the Seattle band "The Gits" who was raped and murdered outside a music club in Seattle in 1993. Members of the band 7 Year Bitch later created Home Alive (http://www.homealive.org), a Seattle-based collection of artists and musicians that provides affordable self-defence instruction primarily for women. They created this non-profit organization after the murder of Zapata as a tribute to their colleague and friend. 7 Year Bitch have also been involved with several other non-profit projects such as supporting breast cancer research and pro-choice organizations.
The band has since broken up but their music is representative of the early stages of the riot grrl movement. 7 year bitch gained considerable success in the US and Europe, signed with Atlantic records, and toured with the band "Nirvana". In this song they address the issue of rape, using "tell it how it is" lyrics as a call to action for listeners.
You ain't got the right
tellin' me I'm uptight
You're getting sucked into
You're getting sucked into
You ain't got the right
tellin' me I'm uptight
You ain't got the right
tellin' me I'm uptight
This song comes from the bands first album titled "Fist City" on the Alternative Tentacle label. Tribe 8 is an all-lesbian band from San Francisco which was originally formed in the early 1990s. The band today consists of: Lynn Breedlove, vocals, Leslie Mah, guitar, Mama T, bass, and Jen Rampage, drums. Silas "Flipper" Howard (rhythm guitar), Slade Bellum (drums), Lynne Payne (bass) were all former members of the band who can be heard on this original recording.
Although this band is not part of the "riot grrl" movement per say it does represent women in punk music and the "in your face" aesthetic often associated with the music and antics of the riot grrl movement. This song addresses the issue of date rape and it was originally recorded for a recording to raise funds for Home Alive, the Seattle based non-profit organization started by members of 7 Year Bitch.
Lynn Breedlove's not-so-subtle lyrics and onstage theatrics have landed the band amidst much controversy much of which is addressed in the recent film: Rise Above: the Tribe 8 Documentary.
7. Sleater-Kinney: "#1 Must-Have" (2000)
Sleater-Kinney was founded in Olympia, WA in 1994 by Brownstein (Excuse 17) and Tucker (Heavens to Betsy). Today the band consists of Carrie Brownstein, vocals and guitar, Corin Tucker, vocals and guitar, and Janet Weiss, vocals and drums. Inspired by Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and other riot grrrl bands, their sound has evolved into the definition of riot grrrl rock. Sleater-Kinney has been a force in the American music scene proving that riot grrl music was not simply a passing phase. Their music continues to use a feminist approach to address political and social agendas. This band is still touring and is still based out of the Northwest. Sleater-Kinney are signed to the Kill Rock Stars label. Rolling Stone magazine has labelled Sleater-Kinney as one of the most popular indie-bands in the US today.
Bearer of the flag from the
And I think that I sometimes
might have wished
And I think that I sometimes
might have wished
I've been crawling up so
long on your
I've been crawling up so
long on your
And for the ladies out there
And for the ladies out there
8. Ravi Shankar : Live At Monterey Pop Festival
Ravi Shankar's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival was not his first performance in the West. Having toured as a dancer with his older brother, Uday's, troupe as a young boy, Ravi had lived in Paris and traveled throughout the US and Europe. In the late 1950s he began touring as a solo musician on the sitar, an Indian instrument with a unique and wonderful sound. Having toured the US and Europe a number of times in the 1950s and 1960s, and having taught workshops at various universities, Ravi was becoming more and more known in the West. He met George Harrison for the first time in 1966 and they formed a friendship that would last the rest of their lives. Ravi was asked to play at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, which was the first major exposure he had to the hippy movement and the counter culture of the 1960s. He played for over two hours in the afternoon and initiated many people into the beautiful world of Indian classical music. Following his performance at Monterey, Ravi continued playing rock and pop festivals, culminating with his performance at Woodstock in 1969, but he was swiftly growing sick of the scene. Ravi didn't feel that Indian classical music had a place at rock concerts. He preferred to play for silent audiences who listened intently with clear minds to his playing. The drug dazed festivals of the 1960s counterculture only served to turn him off. Following Woodstock he ceased playing rock festivals and returned to his path of educating Western audiences about the complexities of Indian classical music, a path he continues on to this day.
These tracks are samples from his Monterey Pop performance. I recommend that those interested in hearing more get the CD: "LIVE: Ravi Shankar at the Monterey International Pop Festival".
1. Alap in Raga Bhimpalasi: The alap is traditionally the first part of an Indian classical music concert. Entirely improvisatory in nature, the alap follows the outlines of the specific raga (a raga is a prescribed set of notes, somewhat like a musical scale, that also carries a set of values with it: such as time of day to play the raga, specific emotion the raga should evoke, and the two most important notes in the raga). Raga Bhimpalasi is a very old raga, possibly five hundred years old or more. In the alap section, Ravi explores the outlines of this raga, explaining it aurally to the audience. The tabla (set of tuned drums) do not play during the alap section and there is usually no rhythmic structure in the alap.
2. Tabla Solo in Ektal: The tablas are a set of two drums, one of which is lower in pitch than the other, which are usually used to accompany Indian classical music. The tablas were originally only accompaniment instruments, and tabla players were much lower than vocal or instrumental soloists in the hierarchy. The collaboration of Ravi Shankar with the great tabla master, Ustad Alla Rakha, has introduced the idea that tabla players are virtuosos in their own right who deserve time in the spotlight. Accordingly, Ravi often features tabla solos in his concerts and recordings. Ustad Alla Rakha, who was Ravi's tabla player throughout much of the 1960s and during the Monterey Pop Festival, is featured on this track. Ravi explains the tala (rhythmic structure that the performance is based on) as ektal, a tala of 12 beats. These 12 beats are divided into 4 beats, 4 beats, 2 beats and 2 beats (4-4-2-2). Towards the end of the track, Alla Rakha vocalizes the tabla beats. A method for learning tabla, the rapid, virtuosic vocal sounds are a favorite part of most tabla solos.
3. Dhun: Ravi concludes this part of his performance at Monterey with a dhun ( a light classical composition based off of a folk melody). His speed and virtuosity are well evidenced on this track as well as the tight relationship he has with Alla Rakha's tabla playing. The two of them frequently feature call and response passages, in which Alla Rakha exactly copies on the tablas something Ravi plays on the sitar. This is a crowd-pleasing feature introduced by Ravi Shankar.
9. Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mambazo: "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" (1986)
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon bears much of the burden for the rise of "world music," from its popularity to its controversy. The album Graceland, from which this track is taken, was a collaboration between Simon and many different artists, from Los Lobos to several groups from South Africa. "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" is perhaps one of the most truly collaborative songs on Graceland, co-written by Simon and Joseph Shabalala, leader of the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo also heard here, and recorded together in New York. Yet while Simon gives writing co-credit to Shabalala, copyright remains completely with Simon, and although Simon later produced an album for Ladysmith, he had to break a UN cultural ban against South Africa to record them. Thus Simon embodies not only the star power frequently necessary to bring international music to popular attention but also the legal and cultural problems involved.
10. Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder: "Diaraby" (1994)
Ali Farka Toure was born in 1939 near Timbuktu, Mali. He picked up the guitar at age 10, and by the '70s Toure was alternately touring throughout Africa and elsewhere or living in his village amongst friends, family, crops and livestock. Ry Cooder was born in 1947 in Los Angeles and had made a name for himself as a bottleneck-slide blues guitarist by the late '60s, even playing on The Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed. Yet Cooder also had a knack for "discovering" talent and subsequently exposing the regional styles behind them, from the Hawaiian slack-key guitar of Gabby Pahinui to the Tex-Mex accordion of Flaco Jiménez. Toure and Cooder first met in London in 1992 and found they shared a common language in the blues, not only because of the blues' historical connection to West Africa but also because Toure himself had been exposed to American greats like John Lee Hooker. Two years later Toure and Cooder released Talking Timbuktu, from which this track is taken, an album that became ubiquitous on "World Music" radio shows and won a Grammy. Toure continues to be a strong "World Music" artist, while Cooder went on to create a new Cuban music craze with Buena Vista Social Club in 1997.
11. The Chieftains: "Drowsey Maggie" (1988)
The Chieftains are the main cultural ambassadors of traditional Irish music. A branch off the Celtic music family tree, traditional Irish music is highly visible in the United States and has been so for many years. Brought over by the first immigrants, it has remained an important contributor to the Irish-American community. Large numbers of Irish-American and Irish musicians live in the New England states, and a fair amount live here in the Northwest and Seattle as well. Formed in the 1960s, The Chieftains have traveled the world several times over bringing arranged Irish music to the concert stage. Like Ravi Shankar for Indian music, they are the group most often associated with traditional Irish music.
This track is from their fourth album, and is features the traditional dance tune "Drowsey Maggie". All the members of the band play together on this tune, and the members then take turns presenting solos to highlight their instrument and ability. The first solo is taken by the founder of the group, Paddy Moloney, who plays the uilleann pipes (insanely complicated Irish bagpipes). The next solo is from the group's flute player; his solo is followed by one of the band's fiddlers, then its pennywhistle player, and finally the second fiddler.
12. Ashley MacIsaac: "Sleepy Maggie" (1995)
Ashley MacIsaac is a fiddle virtuoso who hails from the island of Cape Breton in Canada. Cape Breton Island was settled primarily by Scottish refugees in the 1700s and 1800s. Due to the isolation of these Scots on the island, they conserved their language and music to a degree unheard of in Scotland. For this reason, Cape Bretoners are often thought of as being more Scottish than the Scots. The fiddle is of prime importance in Cape Breton music, and the music played on it is primarily a music for dancing and dancing hard. This is not music to sit and listen to, but music to rock out to. It challenges the belief that traditional or folk music can't kick ass.
Ashley MacIsaac got his start as a child prodigy of the traditional Cape Breton fiddle style, and grew up playing all over the island. At 18 he started touring internationally with The Chieftains, and in 1995 he released a breakthrough album, "hi how are you today?". The album combines his fiddling with hip hop, punk, rock, grunge and electronica influences, and sparked a controversy when it was released. Traditionalists felt he was moving too far from his roots, but others felt that he was revitalizing the tradition and bringing it into the mainstream. However you choose to look at it, it is certainly a daring statement.
The track "Sleepy Maggie" was a hit single from his 1995 album, surprising in that the vocals are all in Gaelic, sung by Mary Jane Lamond. The album went triple platinum in Canada and established MacIsaac's career as an international crossover artist. It is not the same tune as "Drowsey Maggie", played by The Chieftains, but the tunes he plays on the track are heavily influenced by his time with the Chieftains and by Irish traditional music in general.
13. The Prodigy: "Firestarter" (1997)
The Prodigy emerged from England's rave scene, and its track "Charly" in 1991 marked the emergence of the rave into mainstream consciousness...at least in Britain. The group is led by Liam Howlett, who grew up in a low-class London suburb and performed as a hip-hop DJ before turning to samplers and keyboards. The image of the band, however, is defined by Keith Flint, a raver with a pierced nose and multi-colored, winged hair (or at least he did); he is not a musician but prefers to call himself an "instigator," drawing the crowd into a frenzy with his dancing and simple lyrics. Since 1994 and the U.S. release of their album Music for the Jilted Generation, Prodigy has been the most hyped group as British rave music has been marketed as "electronica." The video for "Firestarter," from the hit album The Fat of the Land, was the way many in America discovered The Prodigy, the punk-kid antics of Keith Flint leaving a long-lasting visual impression as Howlett's beats and bass represented an exciting new musical style.
14. Moby: "Find My Baby" (1999)
Electronic dance music is as much about mining the past as it is about the future, equally about utilizing existing recordings as creating new sonic landscapes. In this track we hear what has become of the blues at the end of the century that began with the birth of the recording industry itself. Moby, a nickname of Richard Melville Hall since his childhood, has been active in dance music since the first days of rave in the early '90's. On the Grammy-nominated album Play, he draws inspiration and samples from some of the earliest sound collectors, the Lomax family of folklorists, whose field recordings first allowed rural folk and blues to gain mainstream attention. Yet while Moby remains respectful, it can also be said that there is a sort of double appropriation-first by the academic Lomaxes, then by the sampler/DJ. This tension between giving credit where credit is due and combining elements into new, fresh mixes will be at once a source for creativity and one of the main ethical issues to be faced in the early 21st century.
CD12 Latin music
1. "Manicero," Don Aspiazu 1930
This song sparked the rumba craze in the U.S. in the 1930s. The rumba originated as an Afro-Cuban folk dance with complex interaction between drummer and dancer. This song, though represents a Havana nightclub version of the rumba, performed by light-skinned musicians and dancers, and closer in musical style to the son than to the real rumba. Nonetheless, its polyrhythmic texture, anchored by the constant rhythm of the clave, introduced American audiences to a Caribbean approach to song structure and rhythm.
2. "Mayeya," Septeto Habanero , 1930s
Cuban Counterpoint: History of the Son Montuno, Rounder CD 1078
The instrumentation, rhythmic structure, vocal harmony, and above all the form of the Cuban son have been extremely influential in Latin popular music. This is a "septeto", seven musicians: guitar, tres, bass, trumpet, bongos/cowbell, maracas, clave. The basic form of the son is an instrumental intro, a pre-composed section, and an improvised call & response coro or montuno section. ("Son montuno" is actually the most accurate description for this type of performance; early sones did not have the call & response section). In recordings this call/response section was of limited length, but since it was improvised, it could be extended in live performances as long as dancers wanted to dance.
Listen for the claves, a pair of wooden sticks that are struck together to play a repetitive rhythm (the rhythm is also referred to as "clave"), to which other parts relate. The texture formed by this interlocking of repeating and contrasting rhythms is called "polyrhythm."
3. "Mambo Gozon," Tito Puente 1950s
The Essential Tito Puente
This is a New York style mambo. The "mambo" was first by conjuntos in Cuba (the conjunto was an expansion of the septeto, including piano, congas, and multiple trumpets). Mambo was popularized internationally by bandleader Perez Prado, a Cuban who relocated to Mexico City and made influential recordings. But at the Palladium Ballroom in New York in the 1950s, the mambo took a harder edge, including jazz harmonies and instrumentation. The polyrhythmic texture of the mambo is rooted in the rhythm section of the Cuban son, with piano, bass, congas, and other percussion instruments all playing fixed rhythmic patterns that are linked to the guiding rhythm of the clave (not heard here, but implicit in the rhythmic structure of the other parts). The call and response improvisations of the singer, exciting breaks, changing horn lines, and solos provide variety. One of Tito Puente's important innovations was to foreground the percussion, especially the timbales, on which he plays brief solo near the end.
4. "Oye Como Va," Tito Puente (1963)
The Essential Tito Puente
This is a cha cha cha, a dance genre that swept the U.S. and the world in the 1950s. The cha cha cha was introduced in Cuba in the 1940s and played by an ensemble called the charanga. Charanga instrumentation includes piano, violins, flute and timbales (a miniature version of the orchestral tympany drums). Although the instrumentation of this band is closer to a jazz big band, you can hear the flute playing the melody, and Tito Puente leads his ensemble playing the timbales.
5. "Farmer John" The Premiers 1964
The song "Farmer John" added lyrics to the Romancer's tune "Slauson Shuffle" and was the first breakthrough Billboard hit for a Chicano band from the East side of Los Angeles. This was the beginning of what would be called the Eastside sound. Both tunes inspired countless Mexican Americans teenagers to play the "Eastside sound." Not be denied, the girl fans of the Chevelle's car club made their presence known. The sound of the girls screaming and clapping became another instrument that created the Eastside sound.
6. "Land of a Thousand Dances" Cannibal and the Headhunters 1965
Who could forget the words to "Land of 1000 Dances?" Frankie Garcia did. Frankie, as the lead singer of east L.A.'s most famous vocal group, Cannibal and the Headhunters, covered this slip-up with an improvised and contagious "nah, na, na, na, nah." His deep and wide mariachi-influenced vibrato made rock n roll history in 1965 and led to a tour with the Beatles. As the song opens, imagine a train. Frankie, as lead singer, starts the train moving with "you got to know how to pony." He's immediately answered by the group's vocal train whistle "whoo, whoo." the screams and shrieks of the young women make sure they won't be left behind as young Chianas and Chicanos hop the barreling civil rights train, struggling towards a more promising future.
7. "Bang Bang," Joe Cuba (1968)
Bang Bang / Push, Push, Push - Single
This song hit the charts on both English and Spanish radio in 1968. Its pure fun includes the sounds of a house party, with children shrilly shouting the chorus. The mixture of Latin rhythms with a strong African American backbeat represents a conscious connection between those two communities, as does the naming of similar foods, like chit'lins (the singer says "chitterlins") and cuchi fritoAfrican American and Puerto Rican dishes, respectively, that are made from pig intestines.
8. "El Loco" René Touzet
This cha cha cha recording by Cuban bandleader René Touzet was the inspiration for Richard Berry's song, "Louie Louie," which was most famously recorded by the Kingsmen in 1963.
9. "You're Still a Young Man" Tower of Power (1972)
Tower of Power is a horn-heavy funk band led by Chicano tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo. The Oakland California band made a name for itself nationally with hits like this one in the 1970s. Many of their fans did not know of their connections to the Chicano community and to political causes like Cesar Chavez' United Farmworkers Union. They also had musical connections to Mexican American R&B bands in San Antonio, like the Jesters and the Sunliners, who style was influenced by the horn arrangements of the orquesta tejana tradition.
10. "Conmigo," Eddie Palmieri, 1962
Pianist Eddie Palmieri played with the big band of Tito Rodriguez, a rival to Tito Puente at the Palladium Ballroom in New York in the 1950s. In the early 1960s Palmieri started his own smaller ensemble, La Perfecta. La Perfecta was modeled on a Cuban charanga ensemble, and specialized in a dance style called the "pachanga" that the charanga bands had made popular (this song is a pachanga). But Palmieri substituted trombones for violins, to create an ensemble that his brother Charlie jokingly called a "trombanga." This instrumentation became popular with New York Latino dancers, and the trombone later became one of the signature instruments of salsa music.
11. "Esta Navidad," Willie Colón
This early 1970s recording was part of a salsa Christmas album (Asalto Navideño), in which Willie Colón integrated aspects of Puerto Rican jibaro music (rural folk music, roughly speaking) with the urban energyof salsa. It was a huge seller in New York and Puerto Rico, where dancing and singing are enjoyed at house parties throughout the Christmas season. Jibaro elements include the sound of the cuatro (a Puerto Rican guitar with 5 courses of strings), the lyrical trombone lines (the melodies, not the instrument, are borrowed from the jibaro style of aguinaldo), and the vocal sound and phrasing of singer Hector Lavoe. After three verses in which these jibaro elements are prominent, the song transitions into a coro, "Esta navidad, vamos a gozar," more typical of modern salsa, with call and response improvisation and a polyrhythmic texture, including piano (and cuatro) guajeo and conga tumbao.
12. "Siembra," Ruben Blades with Willie Colón
Salsa's sound and lyrics spoke to the experience of urban life throughout Latin America. Panamanian singer Ruben Blades, salsa's most celebrated poet, began his career with Willie Colón in New York, writing songs of struggle and hope that fostered pan-Latino solidarity. The title of this 1978 song (and the album it was on), "Siembra," means to plant or sow. Blades encourages Latinos everywhere to sow the seeds of a better future. The chorus, "con fe, siembra y siembra y tu verá," means, "with faith, sow, sow, and you will see."
13. "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" Freddy Fender (1975)
Born Baldemar Huerta in South Texas, Freddy Fender took his show name from his guitar stock. He started as a rock and roll singer, and performed in many styles throughout his career. This song was a #1 country and western hit.
14. "Tiburon" (English version), Proyecto Uno (mid-1990s)
20 Exitos (disc 2)
The success of Proyecto Uno, young New Yorkers of Dominican descent, drew attention to the market for Spanish language rap in the 1990s. This song includes elements of Dominican merengue, including the rapid piano licks and the razor sharp scratching of the güiro. Many Latino rappers were shut out of a record industry that was trying to market hip hop as a "black" music. Spanish rap gave them new opportunities, and this is one song that even crossed over to English radio.
15. "Gasolina," Daddy Yankee (2004)
This 2004 hit crossed over even to English speaking audiences, and put reggaeton on the cultural radar of many Americans. Daddy Yankee got his start in the "underground" scene in Puerto Rico, a mixture of hip hop, reggae, and electronic music that got distributed on cassette tapes outside the mainstream marketing channels. Reggaetón had important roots in hip hop and Jamaican dance hall, and was especially influened by Spanish language dance hall from Panamá. The constant drum rhythm that you hear in this song is known as "Dem Bow," named for a song by Jamaican dance hall singer Shabba Ranks. The dem bow rhythm is one of the defining feature of reggaetón generally.
16. "Viva Tirado" El Chicano (1970)
By the late 1960s, when the Vietnam War had changed the hopeful mood of East Los Angeles, a band called the V.I.P.s became El Chicano, changing their name to reflect their Mexican American roots. Their 1970 hit "Viva Tirado" takes a jazz instrumental and adds an intense interplay of drums, conga, bass, and the signature Eastside Hammond organ. The original jazz instrumental by pianist Gerald Wilson was inspired by Mexican bullfighter Jose Ramon Tirado.
17. "No Hay Manera" Akwid (2003)
Many children of recent Mexican immigrants love to mix hip hop with mexican music. Akwid's 2003 song "No Hay Manera" mixes hip hop vocals with brass instruments from Banda Sinaloense, in a style called banda rap. Listen to the off-beat horn punches, the bass line played by a tuba, and the mariachi-influenced trumpet.
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Last modified: 7/01/2008 11:35 AM