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!)
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).