|Kick out the Jams|
|April 28, 1996|
Throughout my span of writing Whacks, I was able to cover such cultural giants as movies, television, etc. However there was one important one, that I seemed to miss, which has been affecting us since the beginning of time. That's right, I'm talking about those monster truck and tractor-pull competitions. The Greeks had their dramas, the Romans had their operas, and the Americans have their monster truck and tractor-pull competitions. However I never attended a monster truck and tractor-pull competition, so I can't really write much about them. So instead, I'm gonna take a look at music. The one thing that movies, television, plays, operas, and monster truck and tractor-pull competitions all have in common, is that they all contain music. Movies have their plot-moving soundtracks, television has channels devoted to nothing but music, plays have their catchy show tunes, operas are all just one big song, and a monster truck and tractor-pull competition would be nothing without the Allman Brothers Band. So let's go decade by decade, and take a look at this major cultural staple.
Pre-1950's Music: I decided it would be best to just group all music made prior to 1950 all in one group, and get them all out of the way right off the bat. The type of music found in the pre-50's era included classical, big band, jazz, and songs about war. I'm not saying that any of this music is particularly bad, it's just that I choose not to listen to this music all that much. Who's has time to listen to Beethoven when the length of his average work is longer than the extended version of Stairway to Heaven? And sometimes I'm just not In the Mood to listen to Glenn Miller. Plus who really cares where the hell Johnny is marching to? All these types of music are good in their own merit, but they are just not the music of my life, so that's why I'm pushing them on the back-burner.
1950's- Rock and Doo-Wop: The decade of the 50's was highlighted by the birth of rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, and the Big Bopper all played a big part in bringing this form of music to the mainstream of American culture. Along with rock, came a style of music known as doo-wop, which was a fresh update of the harmonizing sounds of the barbershop quartet. Rock and doo-wop songs of the 50's were good and all, but the mostly all sounded alike. The entire decade of the 50's was about nothing more than two minute songs that repeated the same verse about some girl name Lucille or Betty Sue over and over again. It wasn't very creative, but we must play props to the musicians of the 50's, because they were the ones who laid the groundwork for future bands to follow.
1960's- British Invasion, Drug-Induced Ditties, and Protest Rock: The 1960's were tumultuous times in both America and the music scene. For the entire decade of the 50's, rock music was dominated by the Americans. In the 60's, however, a bunch of British guys decided that, 'Hey, we can bloody do that too.' And the British Invasion of rock music began. Groups like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, and Herman and the Hermits all came to America and stole our airwaves. The American musicians, however, would not be beat so easily, so they did the single most monumental thing in music history, they started taking drugs. Soon an entire generation of music listeners instantaneously forgot about Mrs. Brown's lovely daughter in the thick Purple Haze of mushrooms and pot smoke. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin all can be thanked for making drugs and rock music a single entity. However all three died at a young age, for some reason, so they are no longer here to be thanked. The 60's ended with the start of the Vietnam War, which brought with it a whole brand of music: protest rock. People like Bob Dylan, and groups like Buffalo Springfield can all be thanked for putting politics into music. They can be thought of as Mark Russell's with electric guitars. From now on music would no longer be a form of entertainment, it would be a form of expression, as our radios quickly got transformed into soap boxes.
1970's- Disco, Funk, and Stairway to Heaven: There's not much that can be said about the decade of the 70's in reference to music. It was a happy decade, people danced a lot, wore funny clothes, and had a lot of sex. And the music definitely reflected this happy-go-lucky attitude. Of course the single most recognized form of music associated with the 70's was disco. Disco was pretty much music made by people who wore polyester and platform shoes, music about people who wore polyester and platform shoes, and music for people who wore polyester and platform shoes. And Disco's distant cousin was funk. Funk, popularized by the King of Funk George Clinton, was music by, about, and for black people who wore polyester and platform shoes, and had three feet high afros. Funk is noteworthy, because the beat of nearly every funk song of the 70's can be found in a popular rap song of the 90's. The 70's, however, wasn't an entire waste in regard to music, thanks to the efforts of the band Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin was the only saving grace in a decade full of Bee Gees and ABBA.
1980's, and first half of the 1990's- All Hell Breaks Loose: From the start of the 80's to present time, music just went wild. All of a sudden simple music became rock, rap, techno, punk, new age, adult contemporary, country, and alternative. There are more different types of music now then there was at any other time in history. With the rise of technology, mediocre musicians were made to sound good, and now literally everybody and their brother has an album out. America is now divided into distinct groups, and each group has their own culture and own form of music. However don't be afraid just yet, there is still one thing that all Americans, black or white, rich or poor, young or old, can all agree on: HOOTIE RULES!!!!
The Future of Music: I don't really know what the future has planned for music, but I think it would be pretty cool if the banjo made a comeback.
Well I think I have written enough for one week, so to conclude this Whack, Carolina Crusher is the Babe Ruth of monster trucks; if you want a lesson in politics, turn off the radio and pick up a newspaper; and I can't believe I wrote an entire Whack about music and didn't even mention Elvis.
Now for this week's special feature, the top ten groups on Feff's hit parade:
10. Journey 9. Blood, Sweat, and Tears 8. Jay Black and the Americans 7. Europe 6. The Fugs 5. Liquid Orange 4. Electric Light Orchestra 3. James 2. NOFX 1. The Replacements