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The American Music Maelstrom


It ain’t all pretty punk, garage grunge, and rock and roll as American music has undergone more change in the evolution of recorded genres. From the early fiddle folk tunes of the early Euro-Ethnic influence, to hillbilly banjo and jug bands with a side order of ragtime and blues, and jukin’ jism jazz to the Sinatra/Dorsey big bands, to Bob Wills fusing different sounds and styles by infusing country western with Tommy Duncan’s big band vocals and adding drums while Ernest Tubb amplified his guitar and Hank Williams from high atop the mansion on the hill twanged his tunes to a blue moon while the deep fried southern delta unleashed sharecropper beats that found their way up north from Highway 61 to the jukeboxes of Butterfield’s Chicago and while hillbilly’s became rockabilly’s in Memphis.

Sun Records began to rise on the hot 100 lost horizons watching careful as the wax of Stax Records played a checkmate game with the wizards of Chess Records and rock and roll shot from the studio womb like a hound dog with great balls of fire and jumpin’ jukes were firing head shots from a full metal jacket of rhythm blues, and jazz deep into the very souls and depths of white American youth, as Negro race music grabbed us by the balls, and somehow it got all mixed up happily so with a pinch of backwoods rock-a-hillbilly, a dash of swing, and— badda boom, badda bing— it was time to give birth to the bastard child of inbred musical parentage known as Rock N Roll, Baaaaby where 45 rpm’s gave you three plays for a quarter, and the beat goes down to the juke joint where you go in.

As the music launched like a rocket and was about to break the Tin Pan Alley sound barrier because it was now all about splitting the musical atom releasing electric energy and rivers of sweat, harnessed and then unleashed in an explosion with Little Richard, resplendent, regal, raucous and downright rock ‘n roll ravenous, bangin’ the 88’s and screaming across the sky like some flamboyant out of control, off the path meteor shower laughing as Chuck Berry, with no particular place to go, still searched high and low for Marie, still lost in Memphis as musical cattle drive got underway from Lubbock, Texas, as Peggy Sue’s horn rimmed musical boyfriend, gave us heaping platefuls of our buddy, Holly’s famous American Pie, until the plate fell with a crash from the table and landed with a deafening silence in a cornfield one cold, below zero Iowa night.

Memphis, too, was beginning to go into musical orbit with Beale Street blues cats and rockabilly strays circling the Sam Phillips Memphis Sun like planets in perfect synchronicity, while blue suede shoes tapped to a hillbilly beat as the rock and roll syringe was laced with it’s boom boom beat narcotic and was looking for veins in the 50’s that fanned the 60’s flames of protest that said, Folk You while we went surfin’ in the USA until Brian Wilson beached himself and lay dormant so that disco had us spinning like a reflective ball with a dance beat and polyester in heat while in the back alley’s the Ramones moaned with a punk named Sheena and the Groovies were Flamin’ with their second cousin and the New York Dolls danced with jet boys, and all the while synthesizers waited in the digital darkness and today, punk polka psychedelia is back minus the balls of Louie, Louie down by that dirty water in the Boston garage.