Tag Archives: rock music

Singer: Elvis Presley

Elvis recording with the Jordanaires, 1956. Uploaded by timeinc.net.

Elvis recording with the Jordanaires, 1956. Uploaded by timeinc.net.

There’s a great line in a Paul Simon song: “Every generation throws a hero up the pop chart.” The postwar generation threw up Elvis. So to speak.

The teen  musical culture in the mid-1950s was perfectly set for a new icon. Performers such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry popularized a strain of  rhythm and blues that appealed to white kids, but scandalized their elders. Suddenly, a Southern boy with gospel roots burst on the scene, blending the R&B style with the growing field of country music. That R&B/Country mix got a new name: Rock. And Rock got a king: Elvis.

Uploaded on Photobucket by Mrs_Tea.

Uploaded on Photobucket by Mrs_Tea.

Of course, there were two Elvi (thanks, SNL). Young Elvis, who had hit after hit and who made Viva Las Vegas and Blue Hawaii. Then there was Old Elvis, who wore the sequins and cape, took the drugs, played Las Vegas and ate Hawaii.

No post on Elvis would be complete without a chronicle of the King’s accomplishments. I don’t have enough space to list all of them, but here are some of the most significant. He had 38 top 10 hits, and 18 made it to number one. He was huge as a live performer (pun unintended, but liked), and sold out almost every show he ever performed. He’s in four separate music Halls of Fame. His first hit was “That’s All Right” (1954), and his final chart song…well, we don’t know, because remixed duets with other artists are still being made.

I realize this post just touches the surface of Elvis’s life, but a blog can only go so far. I remember the shock I felt when I learned of his death. It’s one of those “Do you remember where you were when…” moments. Although he was less relevant to the music of the 70s, it still hurt when we heard that Elvis had permanently left the building. In the video: The hip. The lip. The King.

Singer: Bruce Springsteen

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by daMusic.be

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by daMusic.be

A first for me: a guest blogger. Reader JMQ from New Jersey (surprise!) sent not just a suggestion, but a fully written entry about Bruce Springsteen. I’ve been a big fan for years, and Bruce would definitely have found his place here. So thanks, JMQ, for this excellent submission.

In many ways, Bruce Springsteen is the embodiment of rock & roll. Combining strains of blues, rockabilly, and especially R&B, his work epitomizes rock’s deepest values: desire; the need for freedom; and the search to find yourself. He’s got his feet planted on either side of that great divide between rebellion and redemption.

All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way. His music has an almost cinematic quality to it, and has always had enormous range in terms of subject and emotion, as well as volume. His quietest stuff is as introspective as anyone’s, but at its loudest, it is the best house party or cruisin’ with the windows down/singing at the top of your lungs music there is.

But he also is one of the few songwriters who understands the sense of music as a healing power, embodied by The Rising album. Released in response to 9/11, it salutes the innocence of the victims, the courage of the responders, and holds out a hand to those who mourn them, who seek the comfort of an explanation for the inexplicable.

His concerts with his E Street Band are legendary for their epic length and a commitment to his audience to bring it every night – “it” being the ability to induce goose bumps and crowd pleasing rave ups. For the uninitiated, just multiply his Super Bowl appearance by 100 and you get an idea of what a typical show is like.

37 years, 16 albums, and 19 Grammy Awards later, his most resonant works stand as milestones in the lives of millions of fans. Long live The Boss.