Rock and Roll with Teens in Mind – M6Q2

As discussed in this module’s readings, the “teenager” became a new societal stage of life as a product of increased disposable income and free time post-war. Music was a popular choice to spend on this new-found time and money (Campbell, 173). Here are three musical selections that speak to the teenage persona of the 1950’s.

Chuck Berry’s recording of “School Days” specifically addresses a typical day for a teenager of the time period. The story conveyed through the song’s lyrics provide vision that many youth can subscribe to like the troublesome situations a teen might face in school, moving on to what many teens would rather be doing; listening to music, dancing, and “making romance.” This song is one of many tunes that reflect the rebellious attitude of teens both in its rock and roll sound and its relatable lyrics.

Elvis Presley’s “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is another prime example of excessive teen interest,and parental horror, to romance and sexual subject matter in song. Elvis’s performance paints an image of the stereotypical, “hormone-crazed” teenage boy and his never-ending attraction to girls. The song’s beat could convincingly make teenagers want to get up and dance as well as swoon over the thought of Elvis’ shaking hips on stage. One could say young women dreamed of meeting Elvis and young men hoped to imitate him as best they could – Elvis being an icon for teen appeal and a great fit for performing this song.

Drawing on musicians from unit 10 as well, teens could find some familiar ground in the lyrics of “Love is a Gamble” performed by Ike Turner and his former spouse Bonnie Mae Wilson. Though this kind of sound is but a precursor to rock and roll, teens could still relate to it thinking of the hardships of their search for young love. The lyrics warns that if love is a gamble, love must also be a sin. This represents the teenager’s acknowledgement that their parents are most likely discouraged with their rebellious behavior. That being said, the lyric goes on to say that if this behavior takes the teen “down below” (to hell), the teen believes they are already there – accepting their rebellion and carrying onward.

(Something just for fun, thank you for reading!)

Sources:

Schöne, Torsten (Uploader). “Bonnie Turner – Love Is A Gamble”. YouTube video, 2:13. Posted [Jun 19, 2013]. https://youtu.be/L2RwSeuFqhU. (accessed October 21, 2016).

Schusterbersch (Uploader). “Elvis Presley – Girls! Girls! Girls! [HQ Studio Version/HD]”. YouTube video, 2:29. Posted [Jul 24, 2013]. https://youtu.be/2l1IBy97kmw. (accessed October 21, 2016).

W, Nick (Uploader). “School Days – Chuck Berry”. YouTube video, 2:42. Posted [Jun 19, 2008]. https://youtu.be/DHG5-GxI_Es. (accessed October 21, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Ike Turner,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ike_Turner&oldid=744903634 (accessed October 18, 2016).

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Ella Fitzgerald -Jazz/Pop Singing Icon – M5Q3

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Ella Fitzgerald: A jazz/pop singing icon in stature comparative to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn and several others. From the lowest lows to the highest highs, Ella experienced a rough childhood of family separation, family death, and surviving through the great depression of the 1930’s; her life circumstance took a turn for the better at the young age of 17. Having won the opportunity to perform during amateur night at the Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella had her first taste of the spotlight and, with positive reception, went on to sing for numerous bands with a multitude of famous musicians and fellow singers. Ella lead an extremely successful career, winning 13 Grammys and selling over 40 million albums. She has been referred to as the “First Lady of Song” and the “Queen of Jazz.” Ella’s spectacular practice of song interpretation and vocal talents make her and her legacy an inspiration to future generations of vocalists. Listed below are a few of Ella’s recordings that best depict the concept of song interpretation in how a performer can personalize a pre-existing song and transform it into their own personal message:

Ella’s rendition of “It’s only a Paper Moon” reflects her optimistic personality despite all of the struggles she’s lived through. Her parents separated early in her life, with her mother passing away when she was 15 years old. Growing up as an African-American woman is the early to mid 1900’s was a struggle in itself, and continues to be a struggle today. Ella’s singing of this standard gives the listener an authentic feeling that with some love and positivity, she can overcome the worst of situations.

Ella’s version of “Someone to Watch Over Me” could be a nod to the struggles in her relationships. Her first marriage was annulled after learning of her first husband’s criminal activity. Her second marriage ended in divorce as a result of career pressure from both parties. There have been rumors of a secret third marriage. Shortly after this news the supposed husband was also convicted of criminal activity like the first. This song may be considered a statement on Ella’s lament of her love life.

Ella’s performance of “Misty” carries a similar feeling to “Someone to Watch Over Me” with the idea of struggles in love. This video of her live performance further reinforces the raw, inflicted emotion Ella provides in her singing (did she give you goosebumps too?). The power of her interpretation of this song is intensified by her use of melisma and vibrato.

Several other of her performances could be used, but I have chosen these three to represent Ella’s contribution to the history of popular culture. These three song selections highlight her strong, everlasting influence on the future of jazz/pop singing through her deep, personal song interpretation of jazz standards and her singing talents as a skillful vocalist.

Sources:

“Biography.” The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald. http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/about/index.html. (accessed Oct. 7, 2016).

Cocomoonlight(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – Misty”. YouTube video, 2:53. Posted [May 7, 2006]. https://youtu.be/mQouJdvB80U. (accessed October 7, 2016).

“Ella Fitzgerald Biography.” Ella Fitzgerald – Singer – Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/people/ella-fitzgerald-9296210. (accessed October 7, 2016).

Overjazz Records(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – It’s Only A Paper Moon (1961)”. YouTube video, 2:35. Posted [Oct 2, 2015]. https://youtu.be/fvShqJqyk14. (accessed October 7, 2016).

Seniors Jazz(Uploader). “Ella Fitzgerald – Someone to Watch Over Me (HD) Official Seniors Jazz”. YouTube video, 3:13. Posted [May 28, 2015]. https://youtu.be/1ggh6BAG4cs. (accessed October 7, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Ella Fitzgerald,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ella_Fitzgerald&oldid=742624835 (accessed October 4, 2016).