As we approach another celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it caused me to stop for a moment and think about the music that helped to define the civil rights movement. There are two songs, in particular, that when I hear them, I hear the dreams of a people hoping for a better life in America. The two are “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke and “Keep on Pushing” by the Impressions. Both songs were released in 1964 at the height of the civil rights movement.
In “A Change is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke sings about the hardships that he’s encountered, but ends each verse with “But I know that a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”
The Impressions exhorted Blacks to keep reaching higher through verses like, “Now look-a look-a look yonder, what’s that I see? A great big stone wall stands there ahead of me. But I’ve got my pride and I’ll move on aside and keep on pushin.”
What’s interesting to note is that both of these songs that were so important to the civil rights movement became songs of victory during ...
We’re approaching another landmark rock and roll anniversary. This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. It’s one of those moments that make you wonder what would have happened had he not died so young. Several of Elvis’s contemporaries are alive and still working. What would he have done in the last three decades? Would he have finally toured outside the U.S.? Would he have gone back to making films? Would he have told his story in his own words? I mention that last one because Elvis never sat for an in-depth interview in his life.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding Elvis Presley. So much of it tends to dwell on sensationalism and the myth of myth itself. If you have any interest in finding out more I about him, I strongly urge you to read the books Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, Peter Guralnick’s extraordinary two-volume biography of Presley. Better yet, listen again to what made Elvis the legend he is, the music. Pick up a copy of Elvis at Sun, the 2004 compilation of his seminal recordings done with Sam Phillips in Memphis between July ...
As we were preparing last week’s special Rock and Roll Night School on rock and roll holiday records, I was amazed at how many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees had recorded a holiday record. So, being the obsessives that we are, the Education Department staff tried to figure out just how many there are. Here’s our preliminary stats. Note: for the purposes of discussion, we focused on inductees from the Performer and Early Influence category; we counted a band or a duo as one inductee (e.g., The Rolling Stones =1; Bob Dylan =1, etc.); and we included our newest group of inductees (ABBA, The Stooges, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, and Genesis). Here’s what we found:
143 out of 255 Inductees have recorded a holiday record: 72%!
Given how many crazy one-off records are out there, I’m sure that we missed a few. I’ve listed our working list below. Please let us know if we missed any! We’d love hear from you.
Inductees who HAVE NOT recorded holiday songs/albums
1. Charlie Christian
2. Willie Dixon
3. Billie Holiday
4. Howlin’ Wolf
5. Elmore James
6. Robert Johnson
7. Professor ...
Man oh Man was last night’s holiday edition of Rock and Roll Night School fun! And we all learned so much about a very special niche of music. In fact, we are thinking about doing this again and maybe streaming the program online. So……anybody out there, let us know if this would be something you would like to participate in…and if you can’t make it in person, consider possibly participating online or via the phone.
Below you’ll find a list of my favorite rock and roll holiday songs. Also, feel free to comment on all of the lists if you were here last night. Most importantly, let us know if we missed any holiday songs by Inductees.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Come to Cleveland!
27.) Merry Christmas – Lightning Hopkins
26.) Christmas Presents – Solomon Burke
25.) Not So Merry Christmas – Bobby Vee
24.) There’s Trouble Brewing – Jack Scott
23.) Chipmunk Song – Canned Heat and the Chipmunks
22.) Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy – Buck Owens
21.) Man with all the Toys – The Beach Boys
20.) Papa Noel – Brenda Lee
19.) Chinchy Old Scrooge – Phil Moore
18.) Jingle Jangle – The Penguins
17.) Christmas in ...
As the world turns and we get further and further away from those early days of rock and roll…or the Big Bang Period as I often refer to it…it seems that we lose another pioneer almost daily. This week is a sad one as we mourn the passing of a man who drew attention back to a whole generation of artists, many of which continue to shine brightly today. I speak of Richard Nader, the impresario of the “Rock and Roll Revival Shows” which featured all of the great acts that at that time were only 10 or so years from their heyday…but had been shoved into the shadows, obscured by the British Invasion, the rise of folk rock, the advent of the summer of love and the psychedelic craze that followed and so on. I speak of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, the Five Satins, the Moonglows, the Penguins, Jackie Wilson, the Shirelles, the Platters and many more.
The Rock and Roll Revival Shows held at Madison Square Garden were a huge success with almost all of the original 25 selling out in this mother of all venues. I was lucky enough to be at ...
This week, guest writer Jon Shapiro, Producer of the U2 3D movie (along with his brother, Peter Shapiro, John Modell and Director Catherine Owens) shares thoughts on the making of the groundbreaking movie, working with U2 and experiencing the movie in all its digital 3D glory– this time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s new Foster Theater.
Through January 2, 2010, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is showing a film unlike any you’ve ever experienced (unless of course you’ve seen U2 3D before). I traveled to Cleveland to unveil it last month and was absolutely blown away by the technology and viewing experience in the Museum’s incredible new Foster Theater.
The first-ever live-action digital 3-D film, U2 3D places viewers within the pulsing energy of a U2 stadium concert. Combining innovative digital 3-D imagery and multi-channel surround sound with the excitement of a live U2 concert – shot in South America during the final leg of their “Vertigo” tour – it creates an immersive theatrical experience unlike any 3-D or concert film that has come before. Ushering in a new dimension of filmmaking, U2 3D takes viewers on an extraordinary journey they ...
Rock Hall’s Education Coordinator Beams to France Via Distance Learning
I've never been to France. I’ve always wanted to visit (the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe – who wouldn’t?) Last Thursday I got my chance – albeit in a virtual sense – to visit France through a distance learning connection. Using the Rock Hall’s state-of-the-art technology, I connected to a group of teachers and students at a conference in Paris for videoconferencing manufacturer Polycom. The connection consisted of a 30-minute discussion of the Rock Hall’s On the Road program, complete with an overview of our award-winning classes and a summary of the Rock Hall’s educational mission.
Since the Rock Hall launched its On the Road program in 2005, we’ve reached classrooms in 38 states and five countries (France being the sixth). What made this connection unique, however, is that it’s been about 8 years since my last high school French exam, resulting in me being limited to what sounds like a poor Pepé Le Pew impersonation! Fortunately, the site in Paris had a translator, which, although adding its own limitations, certainly helped reduce the language barrier. The audience members in Paris ...
The American Music Masters tribute to Janis Joplin, Kozmic Blues: The Life and Music of Janis Joplin, culminated Saturday night with a tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare’s State Theater. The concert ended with Bobby Wood’s terrific house band playing “Get It While You Can,” a Jerry Ragovoy song that Janis Joplin recorded on Pearl. I felt such gratitude to the performers as they came out for a curtain call—they had all brought their best to tell Janis Joplin’s story. Over the course of the night, they showed us Janis’s deep musical roots in blues and folk, her galvanizing rock music, and her love for the soul music of her day.
An early highlight of the show was Guy Clark’s “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” a song he recorded on his debut album, Old No. 1 in 1975. Although the song wasn’t written about Janis, it was a perfect song to capture her desire to leave Texas and make a space for herself out in the world. Guy and Janis played the same circuit in Houston and Austin, Texas in 1965, and he recalled meeting her back then. Janis also crossed paths with Roky Erickson ...