Chuck Berry — And the Whole First Wave of Rock and Rollers — Have a Right To Be Pissed

Can’t be said often enough about a peculiar phenomenon I have never understood. The sex-terrified reactionaries of the ’50s wanted rock and roll to just go away — by banning if necessary. Send that monster Elvis into the Army. Send that threat to white women Chuck Berry to jail.

And damned if it didn’t work in a funhouse-mirror way. The rock of the British Invasion and later (up to a point) is annoyingly present (just consider the nonstop soundtrack we had to put up with while the car was worked on this Sat. — maybe the single most painful part was the inclusion of “I Wanna Be Sedated” like it was the hit it shoulda been). But the whole original wave of rockers is neglected except for oldies moments.

C’mon everybody (ahem), you can program that stuff right in with the Boss and related acts.

5 thoughts on “Chuck Berry — And the Whole First Wave of Rock and Rollers — Have a Right To Be Pissed

  1. Christgau wrote somewhere that many people see pre-Beatles rock as “quaint”, which is sadly true and scandalously ignorant. My toddler was happy enough to bounce along to Chuck this weekend, however. The beat never–well, rarely–lies.

    • I also think that notion was part of a now not only discredited but almost forgotten false trajectory for rock and roll: psychedelic was supposed to be deeper than Brit Invasion or Motown and prog was supposed to be deeper than psyche and so forth. Of course, heavy metal and glam were tearing that progression to shreds well before punk finished it for good.

  2. I’ll take another step backwards chronologically and say that Jump Blues is still one of the most exciting, creative, skilled, alive eras/genres I personally know of. I virtually never tire of it. And since some of that was before even I was born, there’s always hope that going backwards for knowledge and entertainment will always have value for some. Don’t know if it should be a capitalized term though.

    • Just to round off matters a bit … I was amazed to discover not long after I moved to Boston that I was unacquainted with anything by one of Berry’s biggest influences — Louis Jordan. The saxophonist, bandleader and deluxe songwriter was a superstar for years but never got any white-crossover audience. You could immediately hear that his wit, pep and clear, detailed storytelling had shaped Chuck Berry. I have everything Jordan recorded — wrote about him a long time ago — and spent all of the late ’70s-early ’80s turning on anyone I thought would be the least bit interested in him.

  3. Pingback: Time Is By Your Side | Miles To Go

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