I heard a song on the radio this morning, played because it related to a current media scandal: Chuck Berry’s “Anthony Boy.” You should be able to listen to it here:
When I heard it, I marveled at A.) how simple and goofy the song is; B.) the idea that this song was dropped onto the culture by one of the true founders of rock n’ roll.
What’s the lesson for us? That this groundbreaking musician was engaged in—having fun?
When rock n’ roll appeared, played by low-rent characters like Chuck Berry and Bill Haley, the American musical scene was dominated, on the one hand, by a great period of classical music in this country, represented by the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Mario Lanza, Van Cliburn and company. On the other hand, by extremely skilled pop and big band singers and musicians like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and the like.
Into this refined world came—the simplest music possible. Which only captured the market, pushed all else to the sidelines, and grew the market for music many times over.
Is there anything to learn in this tale for those who wish to revive the American short story?