I know...so much going on now...January 6 hearings...Roe v Wade reversal....Glenn Defense trials....and here I am writing about Dolly Parton? WTF! Believe it or not...they are all connected....including this topic. It has to do with toxic...white...masculinity with a sprinkle of misogyny thrown in. I recently started listening to a fantastic podcast titled the History of Rock and Roll in 500 songs by Andrew Hickey. It is incredibly detailed and well researched. As I started to listen to it I realized that some deprogramming on my part was required. You see, I was conditioned as a youth to believe that real rock and roll was four white guys with guitars. Blame it on the Beatles...Rolling Stones...whatever. Or even blame it on the era when I was "discovering" rock and roll, roughly 1968 - 1974. Recently, Dolly Parton was nominated, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A year ago I would have crowed..."Dolly Parton in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?!!!" Are you fucking kidding me? Even Dolly Parton herself had initially felt she was not worthy of being a rocker...she too had been conditioned from years of swill from the music industry that continues to this day.
I am not going to get into the definition of rock and roll....history...etc. Listen to the previously mentioned podcast to get a detailed explanation. What I am going to say is that somehow the mindset of rock and roll went from a musical expression primarily by black artists to four white guys with a guitar in a span of about ten years. Rockers smoked....drank. Used drugs. Destroyed hotel rooms. Had groupies. While groups like the Shangri La's...Crystals....Ronettes...were classified derisively as "girl groups". Right...somehow I think you'd get punched in the mouth if Ronnie Spector came back and you referred to her as the head of a "girl group" and not a rocker. Another category is the infamous rhythm and blues...or soul. Otis Redding...Wilson Pickett....Sam and Dave are rockers...pure and simple. Did the Beatles change rock and roll for the good? Absolutely....they are one of my favorites. They forced the Beach Boys to change. They inspired the whole British Invasion....all good stuff. However, let's not forget that it's possible to be a rocker...and also be successful in other genres. Dolly Parton has had success in both. So has Johnny Cash. These categories that the music industry has shoved down people's throats is disingenuous at best and potentially racist and misogynistic at its worst.
Have You Ever Been To Memphis?
I recently moved to Memphis for a variety of reasons. This town knows and understands music. Any place that had Elvis...Jerry Lee Lewis and a slew of others from BB King to Booker T call it home understands music. On one of the better radio stations you can hear Brenda Lee...Toto...Chuck Berry and Bobby Bare in a span of 10 minutes. Of course people generally know what sort of music they like and that's fine. However, if you are so inclined, I would just take the time to understand how we got to where we are today.