“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Techs, Computers, and Rock ‘n Roll

This moment may be my last chance to tell you about my call to Apple. It turned into great fun, despite the oxymoronic nature of “talking tech” and “great fun.”

Knocking on wood as I type and thinking this round of computer headaches is nearing its end, I know fortune can change in a mouse click. Now I have to get familiar with, ugh, Vista and where all my files are located on the hard drive. This process will take a bit of time. But I had to call Apple.

RockRoll-3

Above: The Cleveland, OH, Rock and Roll HofF – one of America’ great places!

Oh, I dreaded it. I’m always afraid someone will say, “Look, lady, we have a FAQ on our Web site. Why can’t you manage just to go there and figure it out!? I cower.

I had some time to compound the dread while I was on hold, waiting for this mean human to answer.

“Hi, my name is Desmond. How can I help you?”

“Whaaaat? This is some kind of trick,” I thought.

I said, “Well, you see, I’ve got this new computer, and some of the stuff on the old one not even the magic Easy Transfer Cable can migrate to the new one, which includes some of the Apple iPhone stuff like MobileMe, Safari, and some programs. My iTunes stuff doesn’t seem to be doing right, and. . . .” The whaaa whaaa trailed off. “Oh, gawd, here it comes,” I thought.

“No problem, Mrs. Hutt,” Desmond, the faceless Apple techie agent said. “We’ll have that fixed soon. Here’s what I need you to do now, and we’ll stay on the phone for as long as it takes.”

The steps continued. There were lapses in the action while files were converted, realigned, chose sides, stepped up to the plate, got base hits, etc., etc., etc. During one of those times, he asked if I had yet put music on the iPhone. I said, “Not really. Except for one – my ringtone; it’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” by Aretha.”

I just knew he would think that was cool. He said, “Who?” I was flabbergasted.

This man, this Rock ‘n Roll infant, needed instruction. As Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” was converting, I asked him if he knew that one. “No,” he said. “I’m kind of young.”

For the next 30 or 45 minutes, in between the files doing their thang, I gave him the short version of the History of Rock and Roll. It went something like this:

The Real New Music

Well, at first there was this really silly black and white television show, Your Hit Parade. Maybe Snooky Lanson and Giselle McKenzie had decent voices, but if so, they were lost in the social mores of the mid-1950s that made this show utterly silly. For sure, Rosemary Clooney could sing, but even her songs sounded stupid on that show. “Did you know she’s George Clooney’s aunt?” I asked.

Watch the silly version below!

 

Meanwhile, there was an underground music movement afoot in Chicago. The really great blues singers and guitarists were black; they left the South for opportunity, and many got hooked up with an outfit called Chess Records.

Now, compare this Etta James version of "Roll With Me Henry" to Your Hit Parade's version:

“Hey,” Desmond said, “I saw Cadillac Records.”

JLHooker

“Yes, that movie documented the time and place and people of the Chess label singers. Remember Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry in the movie?”

Atlanticlabel

“Yeh, I remember. Their music was great, but I didn’t really know anything about them,” said Desmond.

“Hear what I’m telling you. They were the pioneers. Here’s what you can do. Go to on-line music sellers, for example Amazon, and search for the 50th anniversary CDs of those Chess label singers. At some of the sites you can listen to a song.” The “new music” was coming off the gold and black Chess label, the red and black Atlantic Records label, the black and yellow Sun label out of Memphis, and a little bit on RCA (Elvis) and Decca (Bill Haley and the Comets).

I could almost hear Desmond thinking, “Yes, m’am, whatever you say lady.” But he kept asking questions. “Did it really happen kind of like Cadillac Records laid it out?”

Etta

The Blues Baby

During 1955-59, my friends and I huddled together around an AM transistor radio, often under a blanket, sneaking to listen to this “new music,” which couldn’t even be listed on mainstream Billboard. We heard it late at night on WLS out of Chicago.

Parents , preachers, do-gooders, the media were all horrified. This stuff was subversive and threatened the Fifties values and way of life.

Here’s what happened: All those different strains of music – blues, country, pop, even jazz and gospel – all entwined and metamorphized into Rock ‘n Roll. Here’s how Muddy Waters put it: “The blues had a baby and named it Rock ‘n Roll.”

Disc Jockey Alan Freed was the first to put it all together in a 1952 Rock ‘n Roll show, The Moondog Coronation Ball, in the Cleveland Arena; the teenagers went nuts – dancing, screaming, grabbing, crying. There were more such events to come. The rest is Rock ‘n Roll History.

Wanna hear some good stuff? Go here for a year-by-year juke box.

http://upchucky.com/music-jukes/1955/player.html

 

“Desmond, it’s working. You did it! And it was fun,” I said.

“It looks like it. Is there anything else? If you need us, just call. And thanks for the history lesson. I’m checking out Chess right now.”

“Bye, Desmond. Thanks again.”

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