Music has been a major part of humans lives since the beginning of time. Of our time there is none as relevant as Rock and Roll, which has branched off and given life to many different tastes in music. The types of Rock and Roll are born with a new name then change the era, slowly begin to die, then reincarnated as a new type of music and repeat the cycle. With these many cycles we can see where Rock and Roll trickle down into different pools of songs and albums, taking influences from the earlier years and providing a twist to call it their own. There are multiple cycles that can be listed how artists fit into the age and how they impacted their world for the better.
The Blues were an emotional period originating in the deep south at the end of the 19th century. It spoke of thick country accents from the slaves that were recently freed, containing hearty and music that spoke directly to the soul. One artist to perfect the pouring his emotions into his songs was Muddy Waters. McKinley Morganfield was born in Issaquena County, Mississippi, a rural town on the Mississippi River.
He was given the gained the name “Muddy Waters” because he played in the swampy puddles of the Mississippi River as a boy. He had the emotional influences from his family and the blues from the time before him. Muddy Waters created new twists to his music when he travelled to Chicago in 1943, him, his electric guitar, and the emotional voice of the Blues gave Muddy Waters the national spotlight with songs like “Got My Mojo Working” and “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”. Every person knows who the King of Rock and Roll is without even speaking his name. Elvis skyrocketed the success of Rock and Roll in when it was still very young. Being born in the South with the African American population still very large and Blues the largest music genre at the time influenced Elvis to the extreme.
He created songs that pushed boundaries along with his “graphic” movements he made during performances. The King molded how Rock and Roll will form into, an intense way to directly connect to the listeners soul. Elvis swept the nation with ease, even in theaters the people couldn’t get enough of Elvis. Folk Rock being inspired by Blues held onto the meaningful lyrics and included the sounds of acoustic songs and not much electric or erratic sounds. The great artist of this cycle was Bob Dylan. Dylan has always been known for his poetic songs and his performances that left the people in awe. It had always been hard to determine which is more famous, Dylan’s lyrics or his music.
Either way Robert Allen Zimmerman took the world by storm being called “Bob Dylan” at an early age when he was in college. His influences came from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and other well known folk singers while he was growing up. A song that took him to stardom was “Like a Rolling Stone” which was awarded into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He created many influences onto the next cycle of music when at Newport folk festival, Bob Dylan broke out the electric guitar and went on to be booed by the crowd and trickle down into the next wave of music. Hard Rock/Heavy Metal had a large foothold where Early Rock and Roll was beginning to slow down. The more intense version of Rock and Roll consisted of electric guitars, loud music, and pushing the boundaries of society. A very popular Hard Rock band is AC/DC and they are known for being loud and extreme.
AC/DC spoke directly to the young rebellious generation that didn’t want to be controlled by the rest of society. Originating in Australia and gaining many influences from old rock and roll with blues as well the band created their first album “High Voltage”. The band has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is on the list of the highest-certified music artists in the United States and the list of best-selling music artists. The age of Funk came with a sound that made the people want to get up and move. A melting pot of Blues, Jazz, and soul music that spoke directly to the people that wanted to bust out and dance. The band Earth, Wind, and Fire were major contributors to this movement. The bandleader Maurice White drove the band to success with his creativity in music, providing a rhythmic sound that his band produced so well they were internationally known. Winning the Grammy Lifetime achievement award and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The songs “September,” “Let’s Groove Tonight,” and “Boogie Wonderland” sealed the life of Earth, Wind, and Fire as a band that will outlast the test of time and will be remembered forever. Disco directly lead from Funk, Blues, and Jazz and it was specificity for letting it all out on the dance floor. During this cycle every club had a big disco ball hanging low in the center of the dance floor with bands like the Bees Gees playing loud. Coming from Australia the Bees Gees and gaining success from their 12th single “Spicks and Specks” they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and becoming one of the best selling record artists of all time. The band amplified the music scene with the sounds that makes the partiers want to get out and move into the night. Coming back to the theme of teen rebellion, Punk came next cycle of Rock and Roll. Coming from the garage bands that were being formed in the Punk scene, Green Day emerged. In California, Green Day began to start becoming a hit for the teens that felt they could not be controlled.
They had influences from bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, Hard Rock bands that they grew up with in their life. With their breakout album “Dookie” Green Day sold over 10 million copies nationwide jumping them into fame. They earned the Grammy for Best Rock and Roll Album and are often one of the top names when a person thinks of Punk Rock. New Wave was next on the scene when moving away from Punk and other heavier rock sounds, instead focusing on the Disco and Funk sounds. A popular New Wave band were called Blondie who had several hit singles such as “Rapture,” “Call Me,” and “Heart of Glass” which won the Juno Award for International Single of the Year. The were the pioneer for the New Wave sound that swept the world, they were extremely successful in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Not recognized in the United States until the breakout hit album that was called “Parallel Lines” which sold them 20 million copies. Originating in Seattle, Washington with the consistent dreariness and the highest suicide rate in the United States, Grunge was born. The success of Grunge was due to one of the most famous bands of all time, Nirvana. With the incredible talent from the lead singer Kurt Cobain the band is still popular to this day. The release of the album “Nevermind” and the hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” brought the band to fame. They earned awards like Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, and NME Award for Best Single Ever. Even with the suicide of the lead singer the band is still respectively remembered for leading the Grunge age of Rock and Roll.
Hip/Hop and Rap had strong origin from R&B, funk, soul, jazz music. But the songs had deeper meaning especially from the rap group N.W.A. The songs spoke of gang violence and police brutality. The hardships that lower class had to live though in everyday life. Forming and growing in Compton, California there was so much violence and death in the city. The band brought these events to the international spotlight and became very famous for it.
Legendary names such as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and The D.O.C. changed the lives of the minorities in low income cities by writing of real life events. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their hits and will be remembered as the voices of the people for years to come. There are many ways that the art of Rock and Roll may change in its next cycle. But it is already being shown what direction the future is leaning towards.
With the more popular songs having very catchy lyrics and rhythmic instrumental sounds in the background it seems that Rap will be the next branch off. Less intense lyrics with lesser meaning, more focused on one’s self and not on the hardships in the world today. Something that sounds good to the ear that makes the people want to listen to it, not focusing all that much on the lyrics within the song. Catchy words and phrases will be the focus point around the instrumental parts but sounds that go directly to the listeners soul will be the next step of Rock and Roll.
Then the cycle will continue, proving that Rock and Roll will never die.