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Posted By: Gary E. Andrews Little Richard Penniman 2020 - 05/10/20 08:56 PM
It's difficult for people to grasp the context of music back in the 1950's and 1960's.
The main medium for listening was Amplitude Modulation radio, A.M. The Frequency Modulation (F.M.) radio was practically an underground resource.
And what came out of those simple radio speakers was an eclectic mix.
The 1950's was dominated by what has been classified as Doo Wop. A lead singer crooned, and background singers hit Ooo's and Aahh's notes, in harmony. Country radio was real country, stories of country life, sung in simple country language, easy to hear and grasp the storyline. Charlie Bird Parker used to play the jukebox and someone asked him why he listened to country music. "The stories, man!" he said. "Listen to the stories."
The Lyric was generally simplistic, Doo Wop, country, easy listening, whatever genres existed in those days, G-rated, and tempo and percussive dynamics were very low-key, unobtrusive, simply supporting the featured vocalist.
American Bandstand had couples 'rate' new Songs. Dick Clark would play them and then ask the young people what they thought.
"I liked it because it has a beat and you can dance to it," was a common answer. We weren't groupies in those days. We liked the women. The girls liked the men. They were idols, romantic fantasies, but not stand-in-line all night for tickets sensations.
Choreography in film and TV in those days is laughably bland now.
But into that eclectic mix coming out of A. M. radio would come these Songs, one-of-a-kind, a new feel, tempo, percussive dynamic, guitar sounds, chords and lead, organs, tambourines, things we hadn't heard used the way these Songs used them.
And words. The words were suddenly not simple love Songs, predictably bland and G-rated.
And Little Richard Penniman dropped several good ones into the mix, swinging the pendulum of possibilities of what a Song 'could be' out, not just further, but in new directions. Everyone else responded with new pendulum pushing Songs of their own.
Bob Dylan speaks of Little Richard as musical idol of his childhood, a creative artist to aspire to emulate. That he, The Beatles, so many others with Songs of their own felt motivated to 'cover' Little Richard's Songs speaks volumes about an artist who was doing some things right. Dylan said of his own Song, "Like A Rolling Stone", "There had never been a Song like that before." It pulled the pendulum off in a new direction, and everyone wrote different Songs, different from the 'usual fare'. A flowering of creativity was aired in the 1960's, coming on the heels the vanguard of what had come before in the 1950's. Blues emerged, became prominent in its own right. Country expanded. Easy listening. Suddenly there was a market for just about any music you could make. Jazz. Classical. Orchestral.
And much of it probably had roots, however small, in Songs by these folks, like Little Richard. I raise my glass in tribute, not farewell, to Little Richard Penniman.
Posted By: Moosesong Re: Little Richard Penniman 2020 - 05/13/20 03:58 AM
Well said. I raise a glass too.
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