Monday, December 21, 2015

Today, A DJ On Detrot's Oldies Station --

-- or the "classic rock" station, or whatever it is that they call 94.7 FM -- Sometime much longer ago than 10 years ago, I heard a DJ say that a Golden Oldie was any record over 10 years old. I can't recall having heard a record on 94.7 which was less than 20 years old, and I believe the majority of the records they play are more than 30 years old by now.

But I'm not sure whether they call themselves an oldies station.

You see, kids, long, long ago, long before most of you were born, there was this thing called rock n roll, which involved a lot of silliness and occasionally some interesting music. But there was definitely more than music involved. There were also stupid slogans like "Don't trust anyone over 30" and rapidly-changing regulations about the acceptable length of hair for young (under 30) men.

But the hair-length regulations only began to be enforced in the mid-1960's, and rock n roll was around even earlier than that, in the 1950's. Actually, it was around even earlier than the 1950's, but before the 1950's it was called rhythm n blues, and there were very few white performers and much less silliness involved in it. One piece of silliness which began in the 1950's when white kids overran the genre was the slogan:

Rock n roll is here to stay!


This slogan can be seen as early as the movie The Girl Can't Help It starring Jayne Mansfield, released in 1956. The girl in the title was Mansfield, and what she couldn't help was being so very va-voom. If I remember correctly, near the beginning of that movie, a reporter happened upon a couple who were doing some jitterbug dancing to a rock r roll song, and he asked the girl something like

"Say, Kitty, what's the name of that exercise yr doing?!"

and the girl replied something like

"It's called rock n roll, Daddy-O, and it's here to stay!"

You know what? Not only might that not be an exact quote, it might not even be from The Girl Can't Help It. But the point is, it could've been. And the point is also that Bill Haley & His Comets were not in the movie performing "Rock Around the Clock," but they could've been. No, the point is, they should have been. No -- the point is, somewhere I read some stupid rock critic saying that "Rock Around the Clock" was not "real" rock n roll.

What the eff? Is it that 30-year-old thing? Haley was 29 when "Rock Around the Clock" was released, and 31 when The Girl Can't Help It was released. Is it because Bill was a little bit portly?

In 1956 Haley was rocking his fat white 31-year-old ass off. "Rock Around the Clock" is a fine piece of recorded music. The point is, there's plenty of stuff masquerading as real rock n roll which isn't. Take that gruesome assault on the ears released in 1957, which seemingly just won't die, "Jingle Bell Rock." That's not rock n roll, it's not good music of any sort, and it rips off a line from "Rock Around the Clock."

Just 20 years later and 40 years ago already, some of the punk rockers started to make fun of the "rock n roll will never die" bullshit. However, they themselves cultivated a pose of mistrust toward people over 30, and as if that weren't already rock-n-roll-silly enough, they also, at first, enforced hair-length regulations for men. And the only way they could rebel against the older rockers in hair length was to cut it shorter.

It may be hard for young people today truly to grasp how seriously the silliness about distrusting the non-young was among rockers. Even one of the least-silly rock n roll bands ever, The Who, released a record in 1965 with the iconic line: "Hope I die before I get old." A line which keeps getting more and more ironic, because the 2 surviving members of the band are still performing as The Who 50 years later. Any attempt to make it un-ironic must resort to pretzel logic like, "If 'old' means 'lame' or 'no longer skilled,' then Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have not yet grown old." And it's true that they continue to put on very, very good shows.

But they're old.

But that's not what I came here to talk to you about today. Today, on Detroit's oldies station, a DJ said:

"We want to thank you for spending the year with us, and we wish you happiness and joy in the holiday season. Unless you're a goalie with the Avalanche."

And I think that's a nice message for the kids.

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