Published: December 19, 2010
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 email@example.com.