I’m driving to Albany tonight for a John Mellencamp concert. He’s on tour. A little bit older and a little more grizzly. And his voice has a raspy ring to it. I know someone else who fits this description. One difference, though, is the one I know doesn’t go on tour or sing, even though he wishes otherwise.
If you don’t like rock and roll, well you don’t like rock and roll. I still do. Back in the 1950s when it came on the scene, it gave me and my friends permission to dance to a different beat as well as punctured the smug and suffocating conformity of that decade. And the performers – and they performed – were multi-racial and mainly, but not exclusively, male – Elvis but also Chuck, Jerry Lee Louis but also Little Richard, Bill Haley but also Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly but also Ray Charles, Carl Perkins but also Fats Domino, Bobby Darin but also Lloyd Price, Brenda Lee but also Tina Turner.
The songs of Etta James and Big Mama Thornton regretfully, but not surprisingly, never reached our ears in a small town in Maine.
Much more could be said by others who have far more extensive knowledge of R&R than I do. All I can say is that these bold and brash musical artists dared to go where others feared to tread and in doing so tipped the world of a lot of us upside down.