Somewhere, somehow, sometime between now and about 1967 something terrible happened to the Music of America. I can tell you exactly what happened.
Up until 1967, music, for the most part, existed for fun, entertainment, dancing, or simply to help pass the time. Granted, there were exceptions, but for the most part music, up until that time was fun. Pick an era. I don't care when. Big Bands. Fun! Jazz of the 1920"s. A Blast! Even the classical musicians, in their time, were expressing their emotions in a positive way.
For the sake of discussion, I will limit my examples to music from about 1939 - 1996, as this is the music with which I am most familiar, but you'll see the theory follows for previous years as well. By the late 30's Big Band music was all the rage. Selling like hotcakes. Even as American moved into World War Two, the music still was fun. Lets look at some music titles from this era. Chattanooga Choo Choo, Sleepy Lagoon, Swinging on a Star, Rum and Coca-Cola, To Each His Own, The Old Lamplighter, I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, Cruising Down the River. Not a bummer on the list. When the Big One came, musically, America rallied behind her troops. Witness all the great USO tours. Spike Jones came to our rescue with "Der Fuehrer's Face". There was Rosie the Riveter (yup, she had a song). There were literally hundreds of tunes either supporting the boys overseas, or poking fun at the enemy. Other than that, most songs were about boys, girls, dancing, and sex.
Enter the 1950's. The crooners crooned about, well, basically love, sex, and good times. The music was raucous, but, yet, basically unoffensive, and fun. You could dance to it. You could steal hubcaps to it. The songs, really, had no serious meaning. Entertainment was still the main idea. Dance, Have some fun, forget about the troubles of the day. Get lost in a great Elvis tune, rock out with Buddy Holly & the Crickets. Tap your toes to Bill Haley. Fun was still the rule. And, the main ingredient. Sex. I believe that in 99.9% of all cases (up to 1967) most music was, basically, about sex. Getting the girl, missing the boy, losing the girl, winning her back, etc... Even if we include country music (and we should), the songs were less "fun" but still, nothing earth shattering. Sure, you lost the girl (or guy) more often. There were a lot of train and truck songs (still are today),but they were usually driving the truck, or ridin' the train, to some girls house.
As we moved into the 1960's the music was still fun. The Beatles were coming into their own, originally doing covers of great 50's rock tunes, then, writing their very own "She Loves You" you love her, I wanna love her, she's gonna love me, and, by the way, we're gonna rock while loving type tunes.
OK, here comes the big bomb. I blame the Beatles for our music going down the toilet.There are statistics that will back my theory. By 1967, hippies, and carry over beatniks were moving to take over the music scene. The Beatles discovered (or, more accurately, made greater use of) drugs. They met with Mahareshi Yogi (no one knows what happened to Boo Boo). They came down off the mountain, and decided that rock and roll should have a meaning. A deep meaning. A political statement. A statement on the state of the world. This attempt at meaning, clouded by the hippie and drug scene, helped them make lots of really awful music. Think I'm kidding? Just check your Beatles two LP sets, (commonly known as the blue and red albums) The Red set, from the beginning to 1966 includes great rock and roll tunes. Classics. Great girl meets boy, girl loses boy, boy finds new girl, new girl leaves, boy goes back to first girl, type sex theme songs. Examples? She loves You. I Want to Hold Your Hand. i Wanna Be Your Man. Long Tall Sally. I Saw Her Standing There...et al. Then, by 1967 it all went down the tubes. Examples? I am the Walrus. Octopuses Garden. . et.al. Sure, there were a couple exceptions in this period, but even then, the traditional sounding theme songs tried to have a message. Lady Madonna. Ballad of John & Yoko. The romantic songs were obviously penned in a drugged stupor...Don't Let Me Down, Hey Jude, All You Need is Love. Add to this the Viet Nam war. A war that was very unpopular. Make me a list of "rally behind the troops" Viet Nam era war songs. Nope, I can't think of one either. Along with our loss of fun music, came our lack of patriotism.
America did not want songs with meaning. Didn't want songs with complicated, hidden meanings. Songs you had to think about. America wanted songs about SEX! Check the stats: 1964-66 (three years) the Beatles had 31 top 40 hits. 1966-82 (this includes got to Get You Into My Life, charting in '76, and the movie Medley from 82, neither of which I should count, but just to give them the benefit of the doubt,) they only managed 17 top 40 tunes. Only 15 if you don't count the two after they broke up. So, withdrawing those, in 4 years ( 66 - 70) one year more than pre 67, they only managed 15 top 40's. Further proof. Check the records. The 1964-66 set, when released, sold almost 50% more copies than the blue (1967-70) set. Even today, the two Anthology sets which were recently released, the first set outsold the second by 55%. The second, naturally, had all the weird stuff on it. Rest my case.
Enough about the Beatles. What happened then? Everyone else decided songs had to have a meaning. A political statement. Had to save the whales. Feed the Hungry. Build housing for the homeless. Fight Crime in the streets. etc.. Don't get me wrong, these are nearly all great causes. But, you're not gonna do it with music, 'cause very few are going to buy that crap. We had a brief reprieve in the mid 70's, with "hard rock" and disco, but, in those cases, you either got a headache, or a slipped disc(o).
Here in the 90's, we have rap. What the hell is this stuff? I just happened to hear parts of a CD by a group called "Bone" Maybe it's "Bone Thugs in Harmony" I'm not sure, that's either the name of the band, or the CD. In their effort to help save the world from itself, they have found the need to use every profane word in the language. Then, when they ran out of words, they made up new, disgusting words. You can't listen for more than 30 seconds without being bombarded with trash. They are not the only group doing this. The music of today seems to thrive on the troubles of the land. Gansta Rap makes me want to puke. I don't care if inner city ghetto life sucks. I'm not going to do anything about it after hearing this trash music. They sing about selling crack, sex (not polite I love you lets plan a life together sex, like in the good old days, but raunchy disgusting do it in the street while I rape you and shoot you, and slice you with my knife sex...then again...the Beatles sang .."why don't we do it in the road"...see what I mean). They sing about killing, and mutilating, and stealing, and this is entertainment? I think not!
This music is helping corrupt the few remaining decent kids we have. Naturally, some are able to avoid it, but many do not. It's such an easy group to fall into, because it doesn't take any intellectual ability to deal with the trash music of today.
Naturally, there are other music forms thriving today. There's lots of great jazz. There's an upswing in big band popularity. There are some great rock a billy, and retro rockers out there, and, there's always country. yup, i checked...they're still singing about trucks, beer, trains, leavin', finding her with him, and growing up on the front porch. Kinda pathetic, but at least it's still got the roots of sex! (Decent, fall in love sex, by the way, there IS a difference). Unfortunately, the record companies, movie moguls, and other executives, just take what sells, and run with it. What if, tomorrow morning, we woke up, and the only new music being produced was rockabilly recorded live with drums, bass and guitar. or maybe only Big Band swing. nothing else. That's it. MTV had Harry Connick Jr. in heavy rotation. or maybe doing a special on the Rock and Roll Trio? If that's all they made, in less than a year, decent, respectable music would make a comeback. Big business has groomed and trained our youth to think that disgusting is cool! Somewhere there is an executive, with a Rolls Royce, and a big penthouse office, convincing our kids that good songs say "motherf**ker" in them. That singing about selling crack, doing drugs, raping women and killing police is all a cool idea.
What America needs right now... What can save us from this musical wasteland... What can turn the tide, and make America proud again, is someone who can make us laugh at ourselves. Someone who can get the point across with a smile, a cowbell, an old brake drum, and a rubber chicken.Yup, what America needs most right now is a good Spike Jones Record. How about it, Spike Jr.
Just to you don't think I'm the ONLY one who thinks this way, for MORE information, facts and insights about how the Beatles STOLE good music and RUINED it, visit "How the Beatles Ruined Everything" penned by Johnny Whiteside.
UPDATE: There is unprecedented proof that the Beatles not only ruined America AND music, but also that Beatles fans have damaged brains. This determined by the comments I receive in their defense from really smart people, like the ones who wrote these replies: (noter censorship added by me..seems most Beatles supporters can't express themselves with using the F word)
Janis Joplin was good yea, but The Beatles were and are still the best band ever. They put more soul into their music then anybody. How the f*ck can you sit there and say they ruined music?? 50 Cent and those gangstas ruined music, boy bands, and Britteny Spears ruined music. What do you listen to? The Eagles? You are a f*ckin idiot and you need to shut the f*ck up! Oh, and have fun beatin off to a few PlayGirls...........
That was a clever response, wasn't it? But..there's MORE! Read on....
"i don't know who you are but i do know you an idiot, the beatles did
nothing but help music. The u go off and say gansta rap is junk. you
obviously don't know the first thing about music. quit posting shit like
this on the net you idiot"
Or this one
" why do u assume the beatles ruined everything. jim morrison.jimi hendrix,
janis joplin they all suck they ruined everything. the beatles r the best
Ohh..Ohh..another one from a well spoken, intelligent Beatles fan (Please note--the original e-mail was NOT censored--I just figured there may be sensitive people reading, hence the ** in the naughty words):
"Hi, nice webpage, f*cker
Hello, I'm writing you to voice my opinion on your stupidity. I'm sorry that you can't appreciate music that isn't all about sex and the boy getting the girl and all that shit. You are a very narrow-minded and materialistic person, that obviously doesn't care about he world around you. So go and listen to your music that is all about sex and the boy getting the girl, and that country sh*t about trucks. have a nice day, a**hole."
Quoted exactly as received. Brilliant. Comments welcome, brilliant or otherwise. In response (after all it's my web page I can respond if I want to) Jim Morrison was a wacko genius, as was Hendrix. Janis put more soul into her music than any of the Beatles ever could, or could ever hope to. Intelligent thought out replies welcomed as are all others. Just so far, haven't got any intelligent well thought out replies.
And it seems most respondents assume I know nothing about music. So, I thought I'd add *some* of my credentials. Music Major, Concordia College. 31 years on the air as a radio broadcaster in varying music formats, the last 19 years playing oldies/rock and roll. Feature article author for 4 music magazines, music reviewer for two magazines. I have played in several bands over the past 30+ y ears, presently in an oldies band for the last 14. I have spent many years in radio programming and management, making decisions about what gets played and what dosen't, and reported airplay to major magazines where the charts are determined including Billboard and Radio & Records. I own a music publishing company, a small record label, my 18 year old son fronts his own blues band, and we have a recording studio in our home. These are not the ramblings of someone with no clue. I would be interested in the scope of knowledge and experience backing many of the statements above. Although, I do give full credit for anyone's emotional response to music because when you get right down to it, that's what it's all about.