Published on October 1, 2014
The Demise of Rock and the Promise of Soul MUS 1240 Fall 2014
American Pop in the 1960s • The decade of the 1960s was one of the most disruptive, controversial, and violent eras in American history. • Civil rights movement • Vietnam War • Assassinations of John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. – Popular music played an important role in defining the character and spirit of this decade. • Rock ’n’ roll developed into “rock.” View slide
The Early 1960s: Dance Music and “Teenage Symphonies” – Three important trends emerged in the early 1960s: 1. A new kind of social dancing developed, inspired by “The Twist” and other dance-oriented records. 2. Members of the first generation to grow up with rock ’n’ roll were beginning to assume influential positions in the music industry 3. The Tin Pan Alley system was reinvented for the new music and new audiences. View slide
What’s up with 1959-1963? • This period is a very confusing time for rock historians; some look at these years as mediocre at best, some with admiration of the accomplishments that took place. • The very foundation of the rock business had been shaken with the first wave of rock and roll, and the payola scandals – Old professionals in executive positions felt the business had gotten too far out of hand in the 1950s, and now they were going to assert their reign. • A new market had been exposed in the 1950s, with the invention of the teenage market. – Much money could be made if the process could be organized and controlled • Much of this period was spent looking for the next “big thing” after Elvis. No one would fill that void until the Beatles came along in 1964.
Teenagers and their Older Siblings • Teenagers who grew up with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc. had grown up and wanted to be treated as adults. – This group finds folk music to be their preferred music. • The younger siblings of these original Rock and Rollers were the new teenage market, and were heavily focused upon by the music industry. – This demographic becomes the focus of “teeny bopper” music and dance music.
The Brill Building: Rock ’n’ Roll’s Tin Pan Alley • Located at 1619 Broadway in New York City, which once housed Tin Pan Alley publishers • During the 1960s, home to a new wave of pop-rock songwriting teams • Rock ’n’ roll’s vertical Tin Pan Alley • Home to several of the major music publishers – Ex: Aldon Music, which was run by Al Nevins and Don Kirschner – The business model of Brill Building is one way the music business exhibited control in the early 1960s – This practice makes the publishers powerful again, and puts the performers to the side. • Brill Building is a place, but also a style – No unpredictable or rebellious singers – No songs with lyrics that might be offensive to middle class sensibilities • Singer-songwriters and songwriting teams: – Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill – Carole King and Gerry Goffin – Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield • The songwriters often wrote for girl groups and teen idols
Frankie Avalon Fabian Bobby Darin Paul Anka Neil Sedaka
Teen Idols • Two types of teen idols had been established in the 1950s; “Good Boys” and “Bad Boys” – Example: Elvis (Bad) and Pat Boone (Good) • Good Boy teen idols were cast as the “perfect boyfriend” – attractive and not interested in sex, only hand holding and the occasional kiss. – The music business though anyone could be a rock singer if they fit this definition; shows how much rock and roll was still looked down upon by the industry.
Teen Idols • Between 1957 and 1963, many teen idols had success with recordings made for major labels and indies (although not the same indies that had success in rock and roll era) • Frankie Avalon – “Dede Dinah”, “Venus” • Bobby Rydell – “Wild One” • Freddy Cannon – “Palisades Park” • Fabian Forte – “Turn Me Loose” – good example of the musical problems sometimes found within the Brill Building model, using singers that weren’t really singers, just good-looking guys. Vocals are uneasy, perhaps a sign that he could barely sing the song. • Bobby Vee – “Take Good Care of My Baby” • Bobby Vinton – “Roses are Red” • Paul Anka (“Diana”), Bobby Darin (“Dream Lover”), Neil Sedaka (“Breaking Up is Hard to Do”) – these three often wrote their own songs. These three also went on to greater fame later in their careers, but got their start as teen idols. • This type of music was very tame compared to the raucous music that Little Richard, Chuck Berry, or even Elvis had produced in the 1950s. The term “bubblegum music” was applied to this sound, and that term still is in use to this day.
The Dance Craze • American Bandstand – Television show hosted by Dick Clark and developed especially for American teenagers – Essentially was a radio show adapted for television • Shows the growing importance of TV within the music industry – Aired every weekday afternoon and Saturday nights; performers would almost always lip-sync. – Clean fun and dancing; “safe” to watch – Brings dancing back into focus for teenagers. During first wave of R&R, the performance had been the focus. – AB was important for the role it played in portraying American youth of the early 1960s. By establishing rock on television, it opens the doors to more focus on the visual aspects of this medium; teen idols move into television and film roles (Elvis and Frankie Avalon). For the first time, adults could admit that they enjoyed rock and roll. Rock and Roll was becoming firmly established in mainstream American culture.
Chubby Checker (b. Ernest Evans, 1941) • Evans, a former poultry plucker, signed to Philadelphia-based Parkway Records in 1958. • His cover of “The Twist” in 1960 reached Number One. Original by R&B singer Hank Ballard. • The twist was essentially an individual, noncontact dance without any real steps. • Named dances became quite a fad; “The Fish”, “The Fly”, and “The Mashed Potato” were among the dances. • Checker releases “Let’s Twist Again” in 1961, then “The Twist” reaches #1 again in 1962 (only “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby had ever reached #1 two different times)
Folk Music • The college-age subset especially gravitated toward folk music – More “real” – More “adult” topics • Folk had another popularity arc in the 1930s-40s with artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie • Seeger would have more success in the 1950s with his band The Weavers – “Good Night Irene” (1950), “So Long” (1951), “On Top of Old Smokey” (1951) • Folk music addressed the problems in American society, often from a left-wing liberal stance. • This leads to several folk artists being caught up in the Communist scare (McCarthy era) of the early 1950s – Weavers were blacklisted for allegedly being Communist sympathizers • The democratic nature of the folk movement and the style’s break from the norms of middle-class life made folk music very popular, especially on college campuses, during the early 60s. – “for the people, by the people”
The Kingston Trio • Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds • Had been inspired by a Pete Seeger performance in San Fransisco, as well as being inspired by Jamaican musician Harry Belafonte • “Tom Dooley” – No. 1 in 1959 • Easygoing sound; pop-sensitive approach to folk music • 10 Top 40 hits from 1958-1965 – “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” • One of the top-selling acts on LP’s in the early 60s – Debut album stayed on charts for 195 weeks – LP’s were mostly for more serious types of music, like jazz or classical; the medium fit the serious nature of folk music fans very nicely. The rest of the public focused on singles (45’s).
The Two Sides of the Folk Revival • After the Kingston Trio, two sides of the folk revival developed – The more pop-oriented folk of groups like The Kingston Trio, Highwaymen, New Christy Minstrels, or Peter, Paul, and Mary (they eventually become the biggest selling folk artists of the 1960s) – On the other side, there were the folk artists who were exploring the old traditions of folk music. The discriminating listener felt these types of singers (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez for ex.) were more authentic. • Peter, Paul, and Mary – “Puff the Magic Dragon” (1962), “If I Had a Hammer” (1962), cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963) – They were accepted by the hardcore folk fans, as they were extremely committed to the civil rights movement. – Listen to both Dylan’s version of “Blowin’ in the Wind” as well as PPM’s. Dylan’s is very rough, no slick pop sound. PPM’s is very much the opposite, arranged and very professionally produced. • Both folk music and “bubble gum music” come from a music industry that, in the early 1960s, sought to exhibit control over every aspect of the business. They signify two different sides of the public spectrum, but ultimately come from the same place.
Songwriters and Producers of Early Rock ’n’ Roll • In early days of Rock and Roll (indie labels), the artists had most of the input musically into how a record would sound in its finished product. • Record companies in mainstream pop used A&R men (Artists and Repertoire) whose job it was to oversee production of records by organizing all aspects of making records, leaving the artists mostly powerless. • The role of the record producers became more important in the later 1950s and early 1960s. • Producers could be responsible for – booking time in the recording studio, – hiring backup singers and instrumentalists, – assisting with the engineering process, and – shaping the characteristic sound of the finished record. • The best producers left a strong sense of individual personality on their records. The performers’ responsibility becomes more about fulfilling the producer’s vision for a piece than finding their own voice. • The importance of the producer was even greater when the producer and the songwriter were the same person. • Many producers began to experiment and find ways to make their songs unique, going as far as to create a specific “sound” that was associated with their name. • At this point in history, the focus begins to move away from recordings as “audio snapshots” and more toward a focus on recordings as performances in their own right.
Jerry Leiber (1933-2011) and Mike Stoller (b. 1933) • The most innovative songwriting-producing team of the early rock ’n’ roll years • Not recording artists • Began writing R&B songs as teenagers • Had R&B hits with Charles Brown “Hard Times” (1952), Big Mama Thornton “Hound Dog”(1953) • Wrote and produced many hits for Elvis Presley – “Hound Dog” (1956), “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) • Wanted more control in the studio than had ever gone to a producer. • They create their own label, then eventually move to Atlantic Records. • Worked with one of the most popular vocal groups of this period, the Coasters – Recorded many “playlets” that were inspired by Broadway plays • “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “Down in Mexico” – Also recorded some songs that dealt with teenage topics • “Yakety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, “Along Came Jones” • Lieber and Stoller, who were white, directed many of their songs to aspects of black culture, and were successful – Aspects of Hokum Blues, especially in the playlets
Phil Spector: Producer as Artist • Phil Spector (b. 1940) – “The first tycoon of teen” – During the 1960s, he established the role of the record producer as creative artist. – At age seventeen, he had a Number One record as a member of the vocal group the Teddy Bears, whose hit song “To Know Him Is to Love Him” he composed and produced.
Phil Spector: Producer as Artist • In 1960, Spector became an assistant to Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller; he co-produced “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King (1961). • By the early 1960s, Spector had established himself as a songwriting producer. • At age twenty-one, he was in charge of his own independent label, Philles Records. – He supervised every aspect of his records’ sound.
“The Wall of Sound” • The characteristic Philles sound was remarkably dense yet clear. It became known as the “wall of sound.” – Multiple instruments doubling each part of the arrangement – Huge amount of echo, known as reverberation or “reverb” – Three-track process with guitar/drums/bass/piano on track 1, all vocals on track 2, and all strings on track 3; these were then mixed into the mono mix that would become the record. – Carefully controlled balance so that the vocals were pushed clearly to the front • The thick texture and presence of strings on these records led them to be called “teenage symphonies.” • “Da Doo Ron Ron” – The Crystals, “Then He Kissed Me” – the Crystals, “Be My Baby” – the Ronettes
Listening: “Be My Baby” • Composed by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, and Jeff Barry • Performed by the Ronettes • Number Two, 1963 • This was one of the biggest hits among the many produced by Spector. It is an excellent illustration of Spector’s “wall of sound.” • Full orchestral string section • Pianos • Full array of rhythm instruments • Background chorus • Simple but effective verse-chorus form • Drum pattern opens the song, is an effective hook
Phil Spector: Producer as Artist • Recorded at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles with a group of studio musicians known as “the “wrecking crew” • Preferred the sound of female vocal groups and spearheaded the rise in popularity of the “girl group” phenomenon of the early 1960s – Girls in these groups, unlike the teen idols, were mainly strong singers – However, because the groups were only known by a group name, the girls were interchangeable. They were often hired and fired at will. The girls in these groups had very little power, and were mostly at the musical mercies of the producers. – Girl groups did have certain hits that were important culturally • “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” – teenage sex (King/Goffin) • Retired from steady writing and production work in 1966 – Last big hit was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” – Righteous Brothers (1965) – By age twenty-five, his star was on the wane, and he became a troubled recluse. – Came out of retirement occasionally, as with Beatles’ Let it Be album.
“Sweet Soul” • A new softer approach to black pop emerges in the late 1950s. – Elements of R&B singing with heavy orchestral background accompaniment • Lieber and Stoller were heavily involved • Sam Cooke – “You Send Me” (1957), “Chain Gang” (1960), Twistin’ the Night Away” (1962) – Moves to pop from gospel music, in a similar manner as Ray Charles had done a few years earlier. • The Drifters – “There Goes My Baby” (1959)(Radio stuck between two stations), “Save the Last Dance for Me” (1960), “Up on the Roof” (1962), “On Broadway” (1963)(features a guitar solo by Phil Spector!!!) “Under the Boardwalk” (1964) • Ben E. King goes solo from the Drifters in 1960, has hits such as “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me”.
Rockabilly Pop • The wilder rockabilly sound of the 1950s (Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins) softens in the 1960s with more pop-influenced artists like: – The Everly Brothers • Big influence on the harmony styles of Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles • “Wake Up Little Susie”, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” – Roy Orbison • “Pretty Woman”, “Crying”, “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)” • Known for his falsetto voice, very distinctive sound – Ricky Nelson • Child actor (son of TV stars Ozzie and Harriet, starred in their TV show) • “Be Bop Baby”, Waitin’ In School” • Seemed more inclined to please teenagers and their parents rather than inciting riots and portraying a wild image.
Surf Music • Beach Boys – we’ll cover them later • Artists such as Jan and Dean, the Ventures, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy created music that was about the Southern California experience. • Surfing, Cars, and Girls. 99% of these songs dealt with one of these topics. Good clean fun. • Jan and Dean – “Little Old Lady From Pasadena”, “Surf City” (1963) • Instrumentals by: – Dick Dale and the Del-Tones • “Misirlou” (1962) featured in Pulp Fiction – Surfaris’ “Wipe Out” (1963) – Duane Eddy “Rebel Rouser” (1958) – Instrumentals were now considered to be novelty records, when 15 years earlier, most of the music industry was based on instrumentals (the Big Band Era)…this would begin to change in the second half of the 1960s.
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