Rock N Roll
American culture is defined by rock ‘n’ roll music and race, sexuality and generational conflict was a major factor in culture definition. Rock and roll’s complex relationship to race might best be illustrated by the ways black performers “bleached” their music in order to get heard by America.
Altogether uses the term “bleaching’ to describe how music was made white to be heard by white audiences and sold to white audiences. Bleaching included “selling the rights to their music or by earning royalties from record sales” to white performers (p 51).White artists would make changes to black musicians’ music and make it into number 1 hits. An example, of this is Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton who first recorded “Hound Dog” (p 52). According to Altogether, Elvis Presley made some changes to the tempo and lyrics “and his version made it to number 1 on the country and charts” (pop). Often independent labels would take black artists’ songs and put white pop singers on the covers or have them sing the songs. For example, Dot Records, owned by Rand Wood, had Pat Boone record “Anti That a Shame,” Fats Domino’s hit (p 52).
Dot Records bleached “I Hear You Knocking an R song, first recorded by Smiley Lewis and Dave Bartholomew, by using Gale Storm. The bleached song made it to number 2 on the music charts (p 52). In East SST. Louis, Chuck Berry performed at the Cosmopolitan Club, a mixed race club; he states that he “changed the way he sang: “l stressed my diction so that it was harder and wither… Let was my intention to hold both the black and white clientele by voicing the different songs in their customary tongues” (up.
62 & 63).Again, this was another way hat Afro-American artists would “bleach” their music to get the attention of the white audiences. Sexual values and gender norms of men and women were also changed by rock ‘n’ roll music. Some changes include “premarital sex” not being wrong for men. They, according to Altogether, Alfred Kinsey interview with men, “wanted to marry a virgin”, they did not want to marry the promiscuous “lower social” class girl they just had sex with; which is an example of men having premarital sex and it being socially accepted but not socially accepted for women to do the same (p 70).Songs that inspired such sexual conduct were “Sixty Minute Man” by the Domino’s who sang “If your man anti treating’ you right, ‘come up and see your Dan/l rock ‘me all night long; ‘I’m a sixty minute man” (p 72). Another song that lead to premarital sex lyrics of state “Game all my meat, /O-o-wee, so good to me;” in “Work with Me, Annie” by Hank Ballard (p 72).
These types of songs brought men and women together in the bedroom for sex, according to Altogether. However, to counteract the high-rise of pregnancy during the rock ‘n’ roll era, in May 1960, FDA approved the birth control pill (p 98).The pill helped to further boost the sexual liberation, says Altogether (p 98). Women were objects in most rock ‘n’ roll songs and men sang about them. Women did not sing rock ‘n’ roll songs; they were in the crowd (p 87). In these songs “women were often idealized and invariably treated as dependent on men, as their property”; it was only much later that male singers would show “emotional vulnerability, acknowledging that women could touch or hurt them” (p 87). But in the late sass,women were mainly “referred to in songs as “baby” or angel,” and puppy love” was the “teenage idiom” (up.
7 & 86). Altogether says, “rock ‘n’ roll singers were “safe-sex” heroes”; they were men and women’s way to express sexual inhibitions without carrying through with the act. Teenagers are the brief transition between being a child and being an adult. This is a time when hormones are raging and the confusion with their ever changing bodies causes conflict within themselves that transcends everything and everyone around them. Rock ‘n’ roll allowed teenagers a way to release this turmoil. It “channeled the emotions and excitement of the nation’s youth onto listening and dancing” (p 111).They were the ones who listened to the music the most, and this caused a rebellion between them and authority figures such as parents.
Such songs as ‘Yakked Yak” and “Charlie Brown” promoted the authority of the parent. It signifies to the parent to not let their teenager indulge in “forbidden pleasures” of listening to music or hanging out with their friends if they did not do their chores according to Altogether (p 107). The spark of “disobedience, defiance, or rebelliousness” of the teenager s said to have derived from songs and movies of the era.For example, “rock ‘n’ roll ignited arguments in many families about independence and deference, sex and abstinence, work and leisure”; which further drove a wedge between authority figures and teenagers (p 108). To counter act the teenage rebellion, T. V. Shows such as ‘April Love demonstrated how loving, no-nonsense authority could keep young people on the straight and narrow’ (p 116).
These shows and musical programs enlisted “rock ‘n’ roll stars like Boone and Presley” to depict the reformed rebel (p 1 16). The shows would be ninety minutes packed full of music called “tenpins”, according to Altars Euler (p 116).Other such T. V. And movie theater programs were Rock, Pretty Baby; Shake, Rattle, and Rock! ; and Don’t Knock the Rock . Another popular example was The Adventures of Cozies and Harriet, which showcased good family values and teen sensation Risky Nelson. These shows in some way helped rebellious teens accept some of the norms of that were set forth by authority figures.
So whether it contributed to teenage angst or re-asserted traditional values, rock ‘n’ roll was consistently a part of the generational inflicts of the ass and ass.In conclusion, rock ‘n’ roll heavily influenced race relations, sexual values, and teenage rebellion. Rock ‘n’ roll helped blacks get their music heard, although at the cost of seeing their music “bleached” or otherwise disguised by white record labels. While rock ‘n’ roll music was becoming more and more popular, sexual values were being changed by the music’s lyrics and undertones. Next, premarital sex and birth control pills quickly came into play as the muses lyrics gave raunchy messages to men and women wishing o express their sexual inhibitions.Teenagers became rebellious from listing to rock ‘n’ roll songs that told stories of parents refusing to allow their youngster to indulge in “forbidden pleasures”, as Altogether puts it. However, traditional authorities responded to these counter-cultural forces with rock ‘n’ roll programs and movies that showed a different type of authority figure, one that teenagers could identify with.
Rock ‘n’ roll music can changed American culture by allowing men and women to sexual awareness and an opportunity for cultural diversity in music.