Search Results for Rock and Roll
Just let me hear some of that
Rock and roll music,
Any old way you choose it;
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it,
Any old time you use it.
It’s gotta be rock and roll music,
If you want to dance with me,
If you want to dance with me.
–Rock and Roll Music, Chuck Berry
Rock and Roll is a form of popular music originally emblematic of the freedoms, joys, challenges, heartaches and rebellion of youth.
Rock and Roll developed in the 1950s as a synthesis of Country-Western and Blues music. Interestingly enough, the accent falls on the back beat which emphasizes the second and fourth beat (ta TA ta TA), the reverse of the military march, which accents the first and third beat (TA ta TA ta).
In the 1960s and 70s the target market of Rock expanded, as did the music. Dianna Ross and The Supremes helped to shape the Motown sound (music from a record company based in the automobile producing city of Detroit), while British groups like the Moody Blues and the perhaps unsurpassable Beatles made Rock accessible to kids from 2 to 102. Meanwhile, American groups like The Doors (with Jim Morrison) and soloists like Jimi Hendrix remained a threat to conservative parents throughout North America and beyond.
At this time Rock branched out into different styles and related marketing categories: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock, Funk, Raggae, Soul, Easy Rock, Disco, Glam Rock, Pop Rock, Bubble Gum Rock, Folk Rock, etc.
Some of the major players in this period were Paul McCartney and Wings, The Rolling Stones, Genesis (with Peter Gabriel), Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, The Who, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Elton John, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Carole King and many more talented outfits. But things needed to change.
The late 1970s brought on reactionary trends such as Punk Rock and New Wave. Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols are often credited with spearheading Punk Rock, while innovative groups with a stripped-down sound like Devo, The B-52s and The Talking Heads enjoyed success. The Talking Heads continued to make their mark into the 80s, their apparently postmodern approach being avidly discussed among ivory tower academics.
Rock in 1980s, however, was mostly characterized by increasingly slick studio productions, made possible by the advent of digital recording technology. Duran Duran is a good example of this new lush sound, whereas Depeche Mode used digital sampling to create a more industrial sound. Other important groups such as Soft Cell and The Eurythmics used technology to minimal effect while The Art of Noise used the new digital sampling technique in their own way, often emphasizing the orchestra hit–i.e. having a full-burst orchestral sound at the touch of a finger.
Madonna was a sensation in the 80s, as was Sting and The Police and, of course, Michael Jackson. Meanwhile, the New Age movement and ‘ambient music’ emerged. Ambient music is a diffuse style (some might say spacey) that was pioneered by the respected producer Brian Eno (Eno also made Rock and Roll albums) in the late 70s. Eno’s most important album is probably “Music For Airports” (1978), a soft and repetitive strain of analogue voice and piano loops. The idea and sound carried through into more accessible digital New Age productions with the likes of Enya, Windham Hill records and others. And stars like U2, David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Philip Glass periodically collaborated with Eno.
In 1980 John Lennon and Yoko Ono released the commercially successful album, Double Fantasy. Sadly, Lennon was murdered by a misguided fan in that same year.
The 90s saw increasingly lush studio production with the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dione. Others like the late Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and The Smashing Pumpkins kept it straight up and simple. And Radiohead came up with a sound reminiscent of the 70s band Jethro Tull.
Some veteran rockers continued to flourish in the 90s with top-selling albums, such as Elton John and David Bowie. Other stars like Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan released cds but seemed to lose touch with the pulse of the people.
Rap, Hiphop, Dance, Grunge and Techno (now a branch of Electronica) also took off in the 90s.
The new millennium has seen more powerful woman acts like Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne, and it’s fitting that Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, who’ve billed themselves as the “longest running rock act,” continue to fill large stadiums.
There’s no easy summary of Rock’s meaning today. Some see it as a consumer-driven sellout; others, as a window to artistic and social possibilities.
Ironically, some rock stars are now seen as more socially responsible than many corporate and political leaders. The widely respected granddaddy of Grunge, Neil Young, for instance, has become a prominent spokesperson for the development of Green technologies. And figures like Bob Geldof, Bono and The Rolling Stones (who did a Toronto concert to help that city’s economy after a SARS scare while Billy Joel and Elton John canceled) have virtually inverted the rotten apple image that the moral majority originally imputed to rock stars.
Recently, however, critics have suggested that international simulcast benefit concerts are starting to look more like shallow publicity stunts than effective measures toward global betterment.
And the beat goes on…
The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient religious parchment scrolls containing some Old Testament documents, commentaries and non-Biblical material.
The Scrolls were accidentally discovered in 1947 west of the Dead Sea at (what was then) Jordan. From 1947 to 1951 additional Scrolls were discovered. The bulk of the Scrolls were in 11 caves near Qumran. They present us with Hebrew biblical texts 1000 years older than previously discovered, and in at least of three different types of script.¹
Most scholars believe they were written by the Essenes, a Jewish religious community at Qumran overrun by the Romans in 68 CE. Randall Price notes that the discovery was synchronous with the formation of Israel as an independent nation (Jungians might say synchronistic.)
The discovery of the Scrolls reveals, among other things, how some scholars act more on self-interest than a supposed concern for the dissemination and development of knowledge. After their discovery, the Scrolls were zealously hoarded by a select group of scholars. Other scholars were literally barred from seeing them. Although the papyrus on which they were written was often fragmented and required painstaking reconstruction, many of the excluded scholars say the inner circle of researchers retained the Scrolls for a far longer period than reasonable.
Moreover, misleading press releases were issued, saying the content of the Scrolls would entirely change the way the world looks at the Bible and Christianity. Most likely these claims were born out of naive enthusiasm but also, perhaps, sheer sensationalism.
Although no one seems to know when the Scrolls were written, Randall Price says they “yield dates from 225 BCE to CE 68.”² But Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise maintain that the procedure known as AMS Carbon 14 dating (often cited as alleged proof of an artifact’s date) “is still in its infancy, subject to multiple variables, and too uncertain to be applied with precision to the kind of materials we have before us [the Scrolls].”³
Some of the Scrolls were discovered beyond the caves at Qumran. The editor-in-chief of the Scrolls Translation and Publication Team says
It is misleading to say that all of the Scrolls were written by the Qumran group, i.e. the Essenses. We now believe that many, maybe most, of the Scrolls found at Qumran were actually not written by people who dwelt at Qumran. Some scholars even believe that all of the Scrolls were written outside of Qumran without any connection to the Qumran community.4
Nevertheless, some writers like Barbara Thiering affix a specific date and location to the writing of the Scrolls, apparently for no other reason that to support their own ideas.
¹ See S. G. F. Brandon Ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 522.
² Randall Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996, p. 81.
³ Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, RockPort MA: Element Inc, 1992, p. 13.
4 Emmanuel Tov, cited in Price, p. 83.
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Rolling Stones, The » Mick Jagger, Prodigy, Rock and Roll
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Chuck Berry (1926-) is one of the first great American Rock and Roll performers. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, as Charles Edward Anderson Berry, in his early life he sang Baptist hymns, swing and the blues. He later adapted these styles to songwriting.
In 1962 Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for transporting a young 14 year-old native American woman, Janice Escalanti, across state lines. He was freed on bail by his friend and record producer, Guy Stevens, who then introduced Berry to the UK.
Berry’s 50s hit “Roll over Beethoven” was recorded less successfully by the Beatles. But his “Sweet Little Sixteen” was a runaway hit with the Beach Boys. His songs “Maybelline,” “School Days,” “Nadine,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Johnny B. Goode” were also crucial to the development of early Rock, as was his oft copied style of playing the electric guitar.
Little Richard often claimed to be the originator of Rock and Roll. But Berry’s equally important role in the formation of this pervasive musical genre is rarely contested.
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Beatnik is a slightly derogatory, superficial or amusing (depending on how one looks at it) term for those belonging to the 1950s youth subculture called the Beat Generation. In the 1960s the term also described listeners of rock and roll, hippies and those advocating anti-authoritarian lifestyles and social arrangements.
Wikipedia puts it this way:
Beatnik was a media stereotype of the 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s and violent film images, along with a cartoonish depiction of the real-life people and the spiritual quest in Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.
The beatniks wore unconventional dress, hairstyles, imbibed in psychotropic drugs and listened to jazz and bebop. Among Beat writers Jack Kerouac (On the Road, Dharma Bums), William S. Burroughs‘s Naked Lunch (1959) and poet Allen Ginsberg reigned supreme.
The first line from Ginsberg’s “Howl” (1955) epitomizes the dark side of the Beat Generation:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters, burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.
From this, it seems a bit simplistic to suggest the Beatnik culture was an entirely positive spiritual quest. From a Catholic perspective, illegal drug use rarely, if ever, culminates in genuine spirituality. It might represent a stage a seeker passes through before coming to a place where he or she can appreciate an experience of true grace and holiness later in life. But drug use, itself, arguably messes with the mind (and brain) and obscures the pure spirituality of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, it would be equally simplistic to entirely dismiss the insights and societal benefits that came out of the movement. Like anything, one has to sift through the entire phenomenon to discern the good from the bad.
I Feel Like Saying A Beatnik Poem 1950′s B Movie Style
On the World Wide Web:
The Beatniks (video, 1960)
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The Beatles were a British pop group founded in Liverpool in 1960. The original members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962 (originally Richard Starkey).
“Love Me Do” was their first UK hit. This was followed by a string of hits, creating the international phenomenon of Beatlemania in 1964.
Most of the Beatles’ repertoire was officially penned by Lennon and McCartney, although their respective influence on individual songs varied considerably.
The band stopped giving public performances in 1966, turning its energy to the studio–specifically to the rock and roll classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Their producer at the time, George Martin, says he had a significant impact on the outcome of this record.
The group split, bitterly, around 1970. Their last studio album, Abbey Road, was recorded with separate sessions being held for each member of the band. This was unprecedented and, to fans, seemed to indicate growing tensions among band members. George Harrison once said that McCartney told him how to play his guitar, which the guitarist resented. And issues over the growing presence of Yoko Ono were splashed over the tabloids and rock media, as was Lennon and McCartney’s growing acrimony.
The Beatles were no doubt fantastic musicians. But was there more to their success? The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed a psychological classification system based on four main types. For Jung, the whole and healthy mind strove to integrate the four types of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Could part of the Beatles’ unparalleled popularity be a result their collectively representing Jung’s four archetypal types? Following this idea, Lennon would be the thinking type, Paul McCartney the feeling type, George Harrison the intuition type and Ringo Starr the sensation type.
The Beatles’ contribution to music will be forever etched in the history of mankind. The so-called Fab Four combined Rock and Roll, simple blues and complex jazz, as well as ‘lounge lizard,’ orchestral and international music forms. Even begrudging or, perhaps, sarcastically tinged respect is implied, for instance, in “Afraid” from David Bowie’s record Heathen (2002):
I believe in Beatles
I believe my little soul has grown
And I’m still so afraid…
After the Beatles’ breakup, Lennon released several records while residing in New York with his wife Yoko Ono. He continued to enjoy commercial success with songs like “Imagine,” “Mind Games,” “Whatever Gets you Through the Night,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “So this is Christmas,” and “Just Like Starting Over.” But Lennon became more than a mere rock star; he became an icon representing worldwide harmony and peace.
McCartney released a critically acclaimed solo album (where he played all the instruments) and formed the highly successful band Wings, continuing to be a prominent musical force in the 1970′s.
Harrison released the commercially successful All Things Must Pass in 1970 (including “My Sweet Lord” and “Isn’t it a Pity”) followed by several other albums. “Isn’t it a Pity” epitomizes the sense of loss over Beatles’ breakup and laments the end of an era. Sadly, pity turned into acrimony, as witnessed in Harrison’s 1973 tune, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues.” Starr has been in films and recorded singles and albums. His 1974 cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “You’re Sixteen” hit number one in the charts.
In 1995 the single “Free as a Bird” was released. This song was written and hastily recorded by Lennon in 1977. After Lennon’s passing McCartney asked Ono if the remaining Beatles could collectively add to any of Lennon’s unreleased material. Ono gave permission for this single but it arguably isn’t a true Beatles song because Lennon, himself, didn’t agree to its release.
More recently, many Beatles songs have been remixed and re-released, with debatable results. Myself, I prefer the original analog mixes sent to CD (AAD), although others might prefer the digital remixes (ADD).
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The Eurythmics are a British pop duo formed in 1980, consisting of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Although the pair has formally disbanded, they have occasionally reunited.
Eurythmics’ pulsating electronic rhythms and haunting melodies helped to set a standard for 1980s synth pop. The lyrics depict themes of alienation and the spiritual quest, often from a much needed woman’s perspective. Because the music relies heavily on synthesizers, Eurythmics took some criticism from old school musicians preferring ‘real instruments.’
Today that type of criticism doesn’t hold up. Computer processors are just as much a part of ‘real instruments’ as any other kind of man-made component, be it the pickups of an electric guitar or the mechanisms within a Renaissance harpsichord.
Eurythmics used “real instruments” to great effect however later in their career, with such hits as Thorn in my side, and Missionary Man, our drummer Pete Phipps toured with them, and they could kick some a** with the best rock bands. » See in context
Lennox continued with a successful solo career in the 1990s, including the exceptional CD, Diva. The duo of Lennox and Stewart have periodically reunited in the new millennium for benefit concerts and albums but Eurythmics’ creative genius arguably peaked in the 80s.
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Brian Eno (Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle, 1948 – ) is a musician, composer, producer who’s generally regarded as the grandaddy of ambient music.
Born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eno started off as an art student but quickly got involved in the London music scene as a producer.
On his own records he’s best known for exploring ambient music. In the 1970s, before the New Age transformed ambient music into a highly marketable commodity, Eno released so-called environmental music with works such as Music for Films and Music for Airports. A series of ambient and experimental works followed, some solo and some in collaboration with others interested in the genre.
In the 1980s he recorded the haunting and ethereal Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, a soundtrack for the space documentary, For All Mankind. Eno also recorded solo rock and roll LP’s such as Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain and King’s Lead Hat. Less commercially successful than his ambient work, these are nonetheless admired by his more serious fans.
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It’s often said that communism breeds mediocrity at best, and downright shoddiness at worst. And most in the developed world would agree that communism has failed miserably due to its lack of capitalist incentives for (a) company owners to make better widgets and (b) workers to create a better standard of living through hard work and merit.
But the founders of the communist ideology did make some thought-provoking – if biased and pessimistic – criticisms of capitalist society.
One of those criticisms deals with the notion of false consciousness. The idea of false consciousness is found in Karl Marx‘s theory but it’s not specifically defined by Marx. The term first appears in a letter written by his German comrade, Friedrich Engels:
Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives.”¹
Subsequent Marxists and lefty sociologists use the term ‘false consciousness’ to apparently account for the dynamics of class-based exploitation. Specifically, the working class (proletariat) distorts their relationship with the ruling class—that is, the worker’s understanding of his or her relation to the owners of the means of production is based on ideology instead of fact.
The proletariat’s true condition of submission to exploitative, dominating powers is effectively replaced by a phoney belief in equality, involvement and duty. Duped into believing ideological stories as if they were truth, the masses willingly – but unconsciously so – participate in their own oppression.
Talking about contemporary society, neoMarxists often say the distortion of actual conditions is largely effected through ads, the entertainment industry, and the mass media. So neoMarxists would say that a song like, for instance, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” stirs up patriotic emotions among workers who happily trudge out to the factory to make widgets for a company owner who reaps obscene profits from their hard labor. And those very same factory workers save money so they can buy “American made” trucks to feel patriotic, a sense of belonging, and pride.
Another example might be what I saw today on Yonge St. in downtown Toronto. A sort of weather-beaten looking fellow who might have been living on the streets was wearing a brand new Globe and Mail baseball jacket with fine gold lettering on black.
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s conservative newspaper. I’ve heard it called an “old man’s” paper, meaning that it generally represents the interests of conservatives with quite a bit of money. And I think it would strike some neoMarxists as ironic – and a proof of false consciousness – that this fellow was wearing that particular jacket.
These two illustrations concerning a rock and roll song and a newspaper jacket are, of course, overly cynical. But this is how many communists thinkers would view things. Someone more sympathetic to capitalism would add that factory workers receive good benefits, have a humane workplace, and are always free to leave and try something else. That is, the possibility for upward mobility exists in capitalism while it’s virtually absent in communism.
Moreover, one could argue that capitalist workers are not as dumb as Marxist theorists tend to assume, and that workers truly believe in the core values of their country—especially when compared to the violent and oppressive regimes that make up many other countries around the globe.
As for the baseball jacket, maybe that person would be out on the street in any social system. And perhaps some kind soul from the newspaper was just trying to help keep him warm.
The idea of false consciousness has also been criticized by academics. Some see it as a condescending perspective generated by social theorists who wrongly believe something along the lines of:
We intelligent theorists know what the average people want better than they, themselves, do.
Other sharp thinkers like Michel Foucault question the very idea of class and the social dynamic implied by it. For Foucault, false consciousness (and the idea of class-based oppression upon which it rests) contains far too many simplifications and faulty constructs that have little bearing on what’s really going on.
For Foucault, the struggle isn’t just about two main groups (company owners and workers). Instead, it’s a complicated, ever changing matrix of discourses, practices, and power relationships.²
² The Foucauldian perspective has its own shortcomings, particularly in its simplistic view of power. But this is a point debated elsewhere at Think Free.
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Peter Gabriel is a highly respected pop musician, composer and vocalist who left the progressive rock group Genesis¹ in 1975 to pursue a solo career.
Gabriel’s first four solo albums were simply entitled Peter Gabriel, and sold reasonably well with sleeper hits like “Solisbury Hill” and “Games Without Frontiers.”
The remainder of Genesis (with drummer Phil Collins talking up lead vocals) began to produce singles that were more accessible. But these tunes were regarded by many Gabriel fans as inferior to those released when Gabriel was still at the helm of Genesis.
Gabriel continued his solo career through the 1980′s with increased commercial success, recording hits like “Shock the Monkey” and “Sledgehammer.”
Gabriel refused to title any of his first four solo albums, which were all labelled Peter Gabriel using the same typeface, but which featured different cover designs (by Hipgnosis); these designs are also notable for the fact that Gabriel’s face is wholly or partially obscured in some way. They are usually differentiated by number in order of release (I, II, III, IV), or by sleeve design, with the first three solo albums often referred to as Car, Scratch and Melt respectively, in reference to their cover artwork. His fourth solo album, also called Peter Gabriel, was titled Security in the U.S. at the behest of Geffen Records.²
In October 2011 he released a new album called New Blood, which is an orchestral remix of popular songs from his glory days.
He was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
¹ The Hebrew word Genesis means “In the Beginning” and is the name of the first book of the Bible.
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