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Popular music and its effect on society

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On the hunch that he will not shoot me the next time I run into him, I am going to venture into Travis Swann’s territory (music critic/writer for The Murfreesboro Post) and talk about how popular music, from my personal perspective, has affected society at large.

Since I am a stone-cold rock-blues fan, I will stay within that particular genre.

A sound argument is that Elvis Presley and the Beatles had the greatest impact, ever, on rock ‘n’ roll music.

When Elvis first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1956, television viewers were able to watch him perform only from the waist up because his swivel-hipped gyrations were considered too sexually suggestive for mainstream America.

A few years later, 1964, the four mop-haired lads from Liverpool, England, also, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and music and culture have not been the same since.

As I see it, "liberalism" breached what had been, for the most part, a conservative way of life.

In 1962, a young guitar whiz from Aurora, Ind., named Lonnie Mack, topped the charts with an instrumental version of Chuck Berry’s "Memphis."

Lonnie followed "Memphis" with his self-penned "Wham!," a revved-up guitar instrumental that also proved to be a commercial success.

Over the years, Lonnie has been dubbed "The Father of Modern Guitar," and here’s why I, and others, think this title is appropriate: In a metaphorical sense, Lonnie’s adventurous licks on "Memphis" and "Wham!" served as the bridge that allowed the ‘50s rockabilly guitar style of Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins, and James Burton to cross over into the ‘60s electric avenue of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, etc.—it made it alright to step outside the boundary and do what you really felt like doing.

Though I am not into folk rock, per say, Bob Dylan, arguably, is the all-time meister when it comes to speaking his mind with lyrics and music.

It would be pointless to attempt to name the musicians, politicians, philosophers, theologians, etc. Dylan has influenced, because he, in some way or the other, has influenced just about everyone who is "someone."

However, the defining moment came Aug. 15-18, 1969, on a 600-acre farm near Bethel, NY: Woodstock.

The Woodstock rock festival brought together approximately 500,000 folks of all races, creeds, religions, political backgrounds, and social backgrounds for three days of music, irresponsible sex, drug use, and speaking your mind minus any consequences, whatsoever—"Freedom," as Richie Havens so aptly sung at that very Woodstock festival.

Among many other acts, the Grateful Dead performed at Woodstock.

As far as I’m concerned, Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s founder, singer, and lead guitarist (now deceased), always will be the ultimate symbol for the term "psychedelic."

In the late ’60s – early ’70s, I started hearing about "southern rock."

Now, this might rub some of you Lynyrd Skynyrd fans the wrong way, but the first time I recall hearing the term "southern rock" was when it was applied to the Allman Brothers.

Regardless, southern rock opened a window of opportunity for country folks to put a little more "pep in their step" than they previously had been accustomed to.

In 1986, the rap group Run D.M.C. released a cover of the Aerosmith hit "Walk This Way" (for which they won the Soul Train Music Award for best rap single).

Next thing you knew, this song was being played in the homes of affluent whites all across America.

Not only did Run D.M.C. have mega success with "Walk This Way," they also contributed to the civil rights movement.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll mention late, great, Texas guitar slinger Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Because he "rocked it" just enough, Stevie Ray, probably more than any other artist, introduced the black man’s blues to a young audience that, otherwise, might never have heard it. MP

Mike Vinson can be contacted at mike_vinson56@yahoo.com.

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Members Opinions:
December 20, 2010 at 9:55am
No shooting here, good points! Don't know if you've ever seen it or not, but check out the documentary, Before the Music Dies. It takes a good look at creating pop stars and popular music today with commentary from Branford Marsalis, Eric Clapton and others. I think you can actually stream it on Hulu.
December 20, 2010 at 10:51am
A New Yorker vacationing, over the holidays, in Tennessee, an acquaintance introduced me (online) to the Murfreesboro Post and, also to writer Mike Vinson. As someone who has been involved both in the music and media business, I will say this without any reserve. Mr. Vinson's column 'Popular music and its effect on society' was nothing short of piece of literary tapestry. He used such a fine touch in weaving music, politics and culture and the end result was a beautiful,educating, entertaining read. In my humble opinion, this article is Rolling Stone material. Even when I retrun Upstate, I'll maintain a lookout for Mike Vinson on the M. Post website.
December 21, 2010 at 10:42am
Mike, real good one!
December 21, 2010 at 3:40pm
I love Mike Vinson's writing. He has a way with words, most people could never write.

Rolling Stone only wish they had Mike writing for them LO He's dang good! Merry Christmas Mike and thanx for your help this past year.
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