How many of you can hum Hotel California and Still Loving You like it’s your school prayer and cannot help but sway to the beats of Smells Like Teen Spirit? If you do, then load up your guns and get ready because we are going on a rock 101 session!
The very basic: Rock is a genre of popular music which evolved from ‘’rock and roll’’ in the United States and Europe during the 1950s. It has been influenced by musical styles like rhythm and blues as well as country music. It also incorporates styles like jazz, classical, folk and so on. The music focuses heavily on guitar, drums and powerful vocals. The lyrics are usually varied and deal with anything and everything from love to the use of drugs as well as anti-war sentiments (yes be a little wary!).
The Golden Age or the Classic Rock Period
By the time it was the late 1960s, this genre had split into numerous subgenres which had their own distinctive styles like country rock (Bob Dylan and the Eagles), blues rock (the Rolling Stones), and folk rock (The Byrds, anti-establishment, folk-protest songwriters? Yes, them). The development of these subgenres further led to the creation of psychedelic rock (The Beatles) which was heavily influenced by the counterculture psychedelic scene (LSD anyone? Kidding). The psychedelic rock scene also gave rise to genres like progressive rock (The Moody Blues) and glam rock (David Bowie). I’ll be writing more on the subgenres in my coming articles (and it would be worth the wait, I promise).
Spot the famous classic rock bands and mention it in your comments! No, you don’t get any rewards for it. Ha.
The Pioneers and the Legends:
- Bill Hayley – started out as a singing cowboy and later on gave us hits like ‘’Shake, Rattle and Roll’’ and ‘’See You Later Alligator’’.
- Fats Domino – was the bestselling black rock and roller of the 1950s. Need I say more?
- Little Richard – is the person whose music led to the birth of soul and funk. He is credited with ‘’Tutti Frutti’’ not the desert lovelies, the song which basically got listed in the National Recording Registry for reflecting a new era in music and being culturally and historically significant.
- Elvis Presley – The King. Enough said.
Rock and roll has seldom been given enough credit because it is usually relegated to a category which is somehow considered less ‘’mature’’ than other art forms like classical music or jazz. The ideas and beliefs expressed by rock music has often been dismissed as childish or irrelevant and is often a subject of frown in the eyes of the Establishment (we don’t need no education anyone?). The rock and roll culture has also been blamed for promoting a lifestyle which is characterized by ‘Wine, women and song’ and many believe that it endorses a hedonistic way of life.
However, rock and roll is an important genre of music not only because it has influenced society in a variety of ways but also because of its ability to sustain itself over generations. It has reshaped and redefined itself over time and has been a major influence in shaping public opinion. It has been a medium for free thought and self-expression and has acted as a vehicle for various social movements like desegregation in the United States and subcultures like the Rockers.
A Unifying Agent
Despite the fact that rock and roll has diversified into numerous categories, what marks it from other genres is the fact that its offshoots are in some ways still connected to a common origin. Rock and roll began as a movement which would define the ideals which the youth of the 1950s could adhere to but it went on to become something much larger than a mere genre of music. It defined a way of life for every teenager of that period and addressed pressing issues like sexuality, war, drugs, ecology and world hunger. It made people realize that music can not only break boundaries but can also bind us together through our common struggle for a better world.
So the next time you find yourself listening to ‘’Uprising’’ by Muse, do understand that it carries the power to usher in a revolution!
The links of some of the songs, musicians and bands mentioned in the article are below. What are you waiting for? Listen to them now (you won’t be disappointed, trust me).
Elvis Presley singing Can’t Help Falling In Love –
Tutti Frutti by Cliff Richard
David Bowie performing The Man Who Sold The World
Another Brick In The Wall By Pink Floyd
Uprising by Muse along with the lyrics
Image Courtesy: Google Images