Your musical chronology

My single most important retrospective purchase was likely the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 box set.

atlantic1947-1974Something Arthur said about Hurricane Smith turning him on to the Ink Spots reminded me that I, and I suspect most music fans, started listening to the recent items first. But eventually, we started looking backward, discovering the roots of the current tunes.

While I heard a lot of music in the house, starting in 1957, I think I wasn’t fully engaged until 1964, when the Beatles, Supremes, Temptations, and others charted in the US.

I was, and am, a person who reads the liner notes, or sometimes, back in the day, the actual record label, to find who wrote the songs. The early Beatles covered Carl Perkins, Little Richard, and early Motown, and that got me listening to the source material, especially Buddy Holly.

Groups such as Cream, the Rolling Stones, and later Led Zeppelin were covering blues artists, and that directed me back to Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, and the like.

The movie American Graffiti and, to a lesser extent, Sha Na Na at Woodstock, got me interested in more music from the latter 1950s, and eventually segued into even earlier artists. In particular, I became fascinated with Frank Sinatra, whose swagger I found usually painful in the 1960s, but genuine a decade earlier.

While I was still getting new music in the 1980s, I found that I looked back as much as forward. My single most important retrospective purchase was likely the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 box set. While I had much, but not all, of the music from the last five or six years, I had almost nothing from earlier years. It was a revelation. (BTW, mine is 14 LPs rather than 8 CDs.)

Some of that early R&B was more jazz than rock, and that got me interested in 1950s jazz, and eventually earlier and later iterations.

This led me to some buying trends: getting more compilation albums (labels such as Stax, Motown, Buddah, ABC-Paramount, Cadence, and many others) and then buying albums from those collections that I liked.

I’ve ignored the impact of the music my parents played. My mother had Nat King Cole 78s, though she didn’t play them much. My father listened to Harry Belafonte, Odetta, and a bunch of folk music.

How did YOU get turned on to music that was released BEFORE you started listening?

Here are some songs to listen to, from that aforementioned Atlantic collection:

That Old Black Magic – Tiny Grimes

Drinkin’ Wine Spo-de-o-dee – Stick McGhee

One Mint Julep – The Clovers

Soul On Fire – LaVern Baker

Money Honey – The Drifters

Tipitina -Professor Longhair

Shake, Rattle and Roll – Big Joe Turner

Sh-Boom – The Chords

A Fool For You – Ray Charles

Smokey Joe’s Cafe – The Robins

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

5 thoughts on “Your musical chronology”

  1. I was born in 1976; my Dad’s 8 tracks and my Mom’s record collection were what got me into music from before I was born. I had young parents (they were 21 and 19 when I was born), and they were still listening to similar things, but my Dad had an 8 track of Beach Boys songs and the American Graffiti soundtrack, which sent me back further. Most of the rest I did on my own (with the help of library books) after taking a neat music appreciation class in (I think) junior high school.

  2. Roger, one of my favorite subjects, as well you know! I remember hearing Elvis (his full name is Elvis the Usurper in our house) sing “Hound Dog” when I was a little kid. Years later, my musical cousin Gregg Laughlin had a compilation record on his turntable: “Hound Dog,” by Big Mama Thornton. Her growling ferocity was palpable. I fell STONE in love with her and that song in particular.

    Family is the key for me, along with my old friend, John Kellogg, who taught English at Central High in Binghamton. His record collection was one for the ages. He played me roots jazz, including the Professor, early Ray Charles (and I never looked “ahead” again), and some vintage Nat “King” Cole, back in the King Cole Trio days, when his fingers were lively and his voice more authentically his.

    Worth nothing is that the first time I heard Ella Fitzgerald, I thought she was a white singer (it was a ballad; “These Foolish Things,” or something of that ilk). I’m thinking about that because of the comment about Nat Cole. He seemed to adopt a “whiter” style for the masses, less bluesy and fluid, more on the note than under it. I didn’t care for his work in the 60s as much as those old cuts like “The Frim-Fram Sauce” and “Fly Right.”

    I was a record label reader from the early years. A sucker for good liner notes, too… Sinatra’s albums had some of the best. Amy

  3. My Grandfather had Hank Williams and Sun records era Johnny Cash, While my parents had A collection of Glen Miller, and Movie soundtracks. That started my love for the music of before me. Of course, my parents also turned me on to the Beatles, they had all the early albums.

  4. In 1961, I got my very own radio, which conformed to Allan Sherman’s description: “It has a wire with a thing on one end that you can stick in your ear and a thing on the other end that you can’t stick anywhere because it’s bent.” Baseball games were the original draw, but one night I heard something uncanny: “Why, why, why, she ran away.” Del Shannon. Had I a preset, I’d have set it on the spot. And on weekends, there were “oldies shows”! It would be four years before I’d get to buy any records, but I learned the rubrics of rock and roll — and R&B, since that was about 40-50% of the playlist, consistent with the population of the place I lived.

    In 1969, I started moving into other musical areas, mostly because I wanted to appear as though I knew more about the subject than I did. After a while, the knowledge appeared, apparently by osmosis.

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