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"It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it."
My whole world changed the first time I heard "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", by The Rolling Stones! It was like watching TV in color instead of black and white! The loud distorted guitar riffs just blew me away!!
The Rolling Stones
I remember Rock & Roll music before that moment in time. Until then, it was something in the background that accented or added to what I was doing; but it wasn't something that I focused on. For example, it was fun to go swimming, at the city pool, as the early Rock & Roll music played in the background, but I didn't go there, or anywhere else, just to hear the music.
Sometimes I would stop at my friend's house, after school, and his older sister would be watching "American Bandstand". She would get all "worked up" about those early Rock & Roll vocal groups, but we would shrug our shoulders, because they just didn't do that much for us. However, a few years later, when I heard the new Blues Rock music, like "Satisfaction", I became just as excited as his sister had been! The wheel had turned.
For my friends, and myself, The Rolling Stones were our gateway into this new world, so we couldn't wait to go to a concert! We had our first chance on 05 September 1965, at the Arie Crown Theater, in Chicago!
We were thrilled to see and hear The Stones, but we were shocked to find ourselves in a theater that was packed with screaming teen-aged girls. Girls who could scream so loud, and so long that they could drown out entire songs! This was my first experience with how music fans sometimes divide into groups. At this concert, there were the listeners, and the screamers; and the screamers won! We were there to listen to the music, the girls were there to scream when Mick wiggled, and shook his ass! We were in two different worlds!
After the concert, we were still excited about having seen The Stones, but we were also disappointed that we could only hear a portion of the music, and what we did hear was certainly not up to the quality of their records. As much as we liked them, we joked that The Stones either had to go through many "takes", to make good recordings, or they were hiring session musicians, to play for them. Fortunately, their performances, at later concerts, were much better!
My years at the University of Illinois gave me the opportunity to really immerse myself in this new musical genre! We had a few local pubs, in Champaign, Illinois, that offered live music, and The Little Brown Jug, even featured their two new house bands, "REO Speedwagon", and "Head East", who really kept things Rockin'! However, what I enjoyed the most were the frequent concerts, that the University hosted, featuring the top bands of the day!
When we weren't out listening to live music, we would go back to our dorm rooms, put on some albums, and just listen for hours. We wore out the vinyl playing such bands, as Cream, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, and many, many more! It seemed like someone was releasing a great song almost every week! This music became the soundtrack for our lives!
Listening to music in our dorm rooms, alone or in groups, was often done in the dark, and enhanced with black lights and posters, and adult beverages, or other substances. My friend and I even built "color organs", which made colored light bulbs dance and flicker with the music, when hooked to the speakers! This allowed us to stage "light shows" in our room even before they added them to Rock concerts! As you might expect, we always had a crowd in our room for these "shows"!
It wasn't until years later that I realized that when we met in groups, in darkened rooms, to listen to our music; we were actually holding spiritual ceremonies similar to what the Hopis, and other tribes, do in their dark underground pits, known as kivas. That is when I began to fully comprehend and appreciate what a truly spiritual force this music is, and how it has profoundly changed, and enriched my life!
Snake Kiva - Walpi Pueblo - Hopi Reservation
In college, a new division developed among many music fans. This time it was the listeners, and the dancers. People who loved Blues Rock seemed to be able to dance to it just fine, when they felt the need, but the hard-core dancers rejected our music in favor of things like Funk and Motown. They did not join us in our rooms to listen and receive spiritual sustenance from our music. If they couldn't dance, they had little interest in music. This split also created some heated differences of opinion over which bands we wanted the University to book for our concerts.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
It was sometime in the mid 1980's when I realized that I didn't like a lot of the latest music that I was hearing on the radio. At first, it didn't seem to matter too much, because I had my albums from the 1960's and 1970's, and some of those bands were still touring, and releasing new music, so I was hopeful that things would get better. However, some of the great ones, from those years, were already gone, and by the end of the decade, it really seemed like we were in a new musical trend, that wasn't getting any better.
My studies of the markets had taught me that the stock market, and popular music, reflect the collective social mood of the times. By the early 1990's, it was pretty clear that the country had reached a major peak about 1965. This peak seemed to mark the time of our greatest collective financial strength, as a nation, and as individuals, as well as a time of peak social and cultural well being. The Culture War, that began to surface at that time, gave us a hint of what would divide this country, in the years that followed!
The Revolution will not be televised.
Most who lived through 1965 would have to agree that, the two totally divided and warring cultures which define this country today, have made our lives more corrosive, fragmented, and unhealthy than they were more than four decades ago. Those who would point to specific artificial signs of "progress" ignore the even greater negative effects of these changes. Unfortunately, the decline, since that time, continues unabated, and there seems to be little chance of any change in this trend!
Likewise, although our technology has brought us many new things and conveniences, since the peak, we are now a people not easily satisfied with the latest "toys" and "amusements", available from the marketplace. This general apathy only seems to make us crave this stuff even more, so that we consume it to such excess, that it has made us insolvent!
To me, there is no question that the music produced, as we slid lower, from this important high water mark, is very unique. This may be due to the fact that these musicians had tasted the highs, before the slide began, which gave them a unique perspective, unavailable to those who have come after them. They began replacing the happy, upbeat, "cotton candy" love songs, of the 1950's and early 1960's, with the haunting refrains of plaintive and apocalyptic songs like “Can’t Find My Way Home”, "When the Music's Over", "All Along The Watchtower" and "The End".
This music took a new raw, gritty and edgy form. One that was more masculine, mature and tough. It spoke to the harsh realities of life after society's high-water mark, rather than romantic fantasies. "I've Got You Babe" was replaced by "Under My Thumb"!
These songs confirmed the fact that we had fallen from grace, and lost our place in the "promised land", so we desperately needed this more philosophical, insightful, and introspective music to give us some hope that we could make it through the problems that we now faced. This musical genre, that sought to lead us on a spiritual journey, became much more profound than early Rock & Roll that primarily celebrated good times, and romance.
This shift in musical style and substance is why I believe that the music that was produced from roughly 1965 to 1974 represents a true Golden Age of Rock and Roll. The quantity and quality of music produced during those years has not been equaled, and probably never will be!
Although I enjoy many types of music, from different eras, my personal quest continues to be the search for those who are keeping the original Blues Rock alive, by playing the music from The Golden Age, and for songwriters and musicians who are playing and producing new music in the same genre and tradition.
Galveston Music Scene began as a purely personal effort to search out such bands in Galveston, and Galveston County, but as it progressed, I decided to share what I discovered with Fellow Travelers who were also looking for those High Priests or Shamans who could lead us in the sacred rituals and ceremonies of the Blues Rock tradition. Fortunately, I discovered that this area is blessed with many gifted practitioners who can channel the Power of the Universe through themselves; and out into and through the audience!
I dearly miss The Golden Age of Rock & Roll, but as long as I have my recordings, from that era, and there are bands who will carry on that tradition, it makes it much easier for me to deal with the madness of the world today, and to enjoy life, no matter how insane things become!
My study of history leads me to conclude that we will not see such times again, for a very long time, possibly hundreds of years! I am disheartened by this prospect, but I am forever grateful that I was lucky enough to live through the heyday of Rock and Roll!! It is nearly impossible to describe the mood and feeling of those times, to people who were not there, except to say that those who were born after the 1960's, can't imagine what they missed!
That's me, in a Cessna 172 - back in the day!
Are you a disciple of Classic Blues Rock? Did it change your life? Drop me a line, and tell me your story.
It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me!
Credence Clearwater Revival
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