Our Music For Life

Do you remember the first ten years of rock and roll? Was it the music you liked when you moved on from your teen years? If so, chances are you’re a pre-boomer, and the pop music of those years is still your favorite.

It was in Wildwood New Jersey on Memorial Day weekend in 1954 that Bill Haley & His Comets performed at the HofBrau Hotel. They played Rock Around the Clock, and rock and roll was born. The band is long gone as is the hotel, but rock is here to stay — even if today’s music seems to have strayed far away from its roots.

The early years were exciting, even for us who weren’t entertainers. DJs spun the platters with lots of patter and everyone was dancing the latest craze. It was a time of convergence with lots of crossover and blending of cultures leading to new sounds which lead to new customs. Country, rhythm & blues, jazz, gospel, as well as what can be called “standards” all had a part in forming our music. In the end, diversity became uniformity and may have been the precursor to the changes that lay ahead.

In the beginning, the music of the black community and those who performed these songs was covered by white artists. Pat Boone “covered” a couple of Little Richard’s songs – Good Golly Miss Molly and Tutti Frutti – because white stations wouldn’t play black records. It wasn’t long before people, having heard both versions, insisted on the better renditions. And, Little Richard won that vote by an overwhelming margin. Covering was commonplace in the early years. Sometimes the situation was reversed. For instance, the Crew Cuts covered Sh-Boom, originally sung by the Chords. In this case, many believe the white group had the better recording. C&W artists had mixed success, some were covered and some were not, but overall they found crossover easier for them. Of course, Elvis and many others of his time were hybrids: R&B, Country and Rock. It doesn’t matter what they called it, we loved it.

Popular opinion – not of our parents, but of us kids – ultimately decided which music would be played. (Payola had something to do with it too, but let’s not get into that right now). The big deal was not the color of the artist’s skin or where they were from. What counted was the sound of their music. Listeners’ ears were color and culture blind. All we cared about was if we liked the beat and could we dance to it. This suggests that in the post-WWII era one of the great unifiers of the young people was our music. It gave us an identity and began the process of knocking down barriers.

I don’t want to steal the thunder of our younger brothers and sisters by taking credit for the changes that came out of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Let’s just say we planted the seeds and enjoyed the harvest. They also can claim the British invasion, revised folk and protest music. But for pre-boomers, rock and roll will always be the music of our lives.

Don Potter, a Philadelphia native, was born in 1936 and is a 50 year veteran of the advertising agency business. Now living in Los Angeles, he has written two novels in retirement, frequently writes on marketing issues, and has a blog dedicated to pre-boomers (those born between 1930 and 1945).

Download Music For Life

With all of the technological advancements available these days, it is easier than ever for people to take their favorite music with them everywhere they go. MP3 players, cellular phones with music players, music programs on personal computers, and MP3-capable car stereos are just a few of the ways people enjoy music in the twenty first century. The musical landscape has changed immensely throughout the years. Musical devices the sizes of a finger were unimaginable just ten years ago and finding new tunes on the Internet was still not an option. Today, music lovers can download music both at home and on the go to keep up with the modern hustle and bustle lifestyle that so many people have become accustomed to.

MP3 players are all the rage these days. Remember back to the eighties when people had to carry around large, portable cassette players? They were almost the size of a DVD player and the user could only listen to one musical group at a time. If they wanted to, they could bring multiple cassettes with them to switch up the tunes, but it required a lot of extra storage and was a major inconvenience. Then came the compact disk player and later its portable version. CDs provided a higher-quality musical experience, but the portable players did not fix any of the convenience issues posed by portable cassette players. Finally, the revolution arrived. MP3 players presented the opportunity to carry thousands of songs from different bands on one device. The ability to download music on the Internet and put it straight on an MP3 player exposes music lovers to far more music than they ever knew was possible.

Most people never thought phones would evolve to what they are today either. They do things that used to be relegated to personal computers. Cell phones offer Internet access, cameras, television channels, and even music players. For those that want to carry a truly all in one device, the new phones on the market are perfect. Since they offer both music players and Internet access, users can find their favorite tunes and download music on the go, wherever they are. On the bus to work and tired of the music you have heard over and over? Well, it is no longer an issue. Simply log on and find some new ear candy to make the trip musical and enjoyable.

With all of the devices available for people to listen to their favorite jams, there is no reason to ever leave the house without a soundtrack to move to. In the past, there were many situations that could be improved with music, but there were just no viable options. If a person was at the gym, they could carry a portable cassette or CD player, but they were bulky and the selections for tunes were limited. The cassette players worked all right, but the CDs often skipped and created ear shattering sounds. Not only do the new MP3 devices provide the convenience of smaller sizes and increased durability, they also offer vastly increased variety without the burden of carrying an extra case for CDs or cassettes.

Nobody ever has to leave the house without music again. With all of the technology available, it is simple to create a soundtrack for every occasion. The chance to go online and download music gives melody maniacs access to a never-ending library of songs from musicians of every era. No matter what the musical preference may be, the entire history of songs is literally at your fingertips.