>Nostalgia Fridays: 1950’s J.Ds and Rock n Roll

>On this week’s episode of Nostalgia Friday I present you with a clip of several Juvenile Delinquent movie trailers. It is hard to imagine that these movie trailers of: teenagers rockin’ to an unfamiliar beat, racing down the streets in their hot rods, and on their motorcycles, and fighting each other with switchblade knives were treated as sycophants, “teenage cycle hounds going out for thrills, laughing at danger playing at love, the kind of playing that leads to plenty of trouble.” That this type of behavior was the scourge of society, when in present day terms seems somewhat ridiculous and tame. It was, of course, a different time. American societal worries were few and far between. Where “Leave it To Beaver,” “Ozzie and Harriet” reigned supreme and the rock n roll phase, to some, was about to be fazed out.

I recently bought a cd called “Rock N Roll & Rock A Billy Inferno.”
It is a fabulous compilation of music from the 1950’s with Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and many other Rock n Rollers. What fascinates me about this 2-disc set though are the multiple tracks of actual radio broadcasts and commercials from the era. Beginning with: an interview radio DJ Bob Neal had with Elvis Presley before one of his shows in Texicana in 1955 (which also introduced, by name, a young performer named Johnny Cash), leading to a actual commercial for a 1957 Chevy and a debate with Beat Generation Poet Allen Ginsburg and others talking about the “Beat Generation” in 1959.
The coup de gras and most eye and ear opening, in my mind, is a debate on the Meaning of Rock n Roll in 1958 between an unknown interviewer and debater. It is an amazing listen and to hear some of what the debater speaks on about the relevance to what he believes rock n roll music to be and his idea that, at that time in 1958, it would be fazed out.

Interviewer: “Now, you know rock n roll, I think you’ll agree, by in large has a bad name. Whose responsible for it?”

Debater: “Steve, the fact that parents did the same thing doesn’t make it right. I mean, all I hear is that parents when they
were young fell into the same trap. Well, I say the trap is getting deeper. There is no doubt that its interpretation. The very fact that it appeals to a certain kind of interpreter. For instance if I say, (in a Sinatra voice) ‘I love you truly, truly’. But if I say, (in a raspy voice) “I love you truly’ and weave my eyes, twist my body when I say ‘I love you truly, truly’ you know what I attend to convey when I say ‘I love you truly’ that way. This is doing a great disservice and its being done strictly for profit. And incidentally this program is about four weeks to late because rock n roll is on it’s way out as you know.

Interviewer: “Is it on the way out?”

Debater: With all do respect Joe, you being an attorney and I love ya, your a wonderful fellow its on its way out. Irving and LP records are in their way in.

Interviewer: “LP records are on their way in, but rock n roll is just beginning to make itself. I think the fact that a definite dance beat has been reestablished for the kids. I don’t think the lyrics to which you were referred to, the lyrics to which you referred before as having a particular connotation. I think we can go to any…

Debater: “Well how was Rock n Roll born!? Rhythm and Blues and race. Now Joe, you know that Rock n Roll was born out of Rhythm and Blues and race, written by people who didn’t know the english language, didn’t know how to spell, didnt know how to play but could accompany themselves on the guitar and so forth and that’s how Rock n Roll was born. And you know that, along came a clever fellow whose, like Buck Ram, who knew how to write good songs and to make a profit and I don’t blame them for it, they imitated Rhythm and Blues and race and created Rock n Roll…

Interviewer: “Why did it get so popular though?”

Debater: “Anything can become popular over night. It’s a six-month sensation, a year sensation. This is very fast era, that little thing called radio can make 170 people conscious of a thing AND unconscious all within one week ya know.”

Quite fascinating I must say. I wonder what became of that debater.