Art Essay Critique: Rock n Roll

In a time enduring war, controversy, segregation, and rebellion a captivating style of music emerged, “Rock N Roll”. The year was 1954; Bill Haley & His Comets released a hit record “Rock Around the Clock” that took music from R&B to Rock N Roll. Following Bill Haley & His Comets, Rock N Roll records charged to the top of Billboard Charts, enthralling youth across the nation. These same years that Elvis was becoming The King, Rosa Parks had started the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Hugh Hefner produced Playboy. It would be a far stretch of the truth to say Rock desegregated our country and deemed mini-skirts acceptable. Still, Rock N Roll was a brilliant stallion that carried a momentum of change in America.

The effects of Rock N Roll on racial equality would not be without it’s musical heritage from the Blues. Slave, or “work” songs and black gospel developed into a rich cultural music after the abolition of slavery. Adopting the guitar and harmonica, the Blues started, a twelve-bar progression in four-four time. Rock N Roll was fashioned from this African-American Blues and white Country music. Here was a time when skin color determined quality of life; a man was lynched, for he was black. In contrast, white and black skinned alike were shaping the face of Rock N Roll.

Rock N Roll was already unruly and had adolescents rebelling against tradition. African-American Chuck Berry stormed the Rock movement with flashy lyrics about fast cars and unfaithful woman. Teenagers nationwide darted to record stores and tuned the radio to dive into the thunder of Chuck’s Maybellene and Sweet Little Sixteen. Rock hit the road and rolled down the highway springing a tightrope of gigs that tipped between carnival and concert. Also, idols inspired outrageous fashions like denim jeans and black leather. Although highly condemned, a legion of fans and Greasers started to know the injustice of segregation. The generation following Rock N Roll soon aged to the frontier of society.

Rock N Roll needed to be radical, needed the Blues, and needed each and every record to defy some margin. Renowned artists such as Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, and Bob Dylan took the reins and ushered novel ideas to a new decade.  In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, declaring discrimination based on race illegal; this was just one landmark of change. The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album wins a Grammy award in 1967, the first Rock N Roll album to receive the award. Baby Boomers now owned great stock in America and the common embraced change. Our culture seemed to have been rebuilt from ground-up. Dissimilar, other music has famed tales of uprising since biblical times. Rock N Roll’s gallop harmoniously trod a path to cultural mutiny now testament of history books.