Some folks never liked Rock and Roll.
It was too loud, too pagan, too young, too black, too sexy, too shameless, too crude, just too, too, too!
But, if you got it – you got it! It was the sound; of an ice age thawing, of continental plates shifting, of blood singing in the veins, of a door being thrown open so wide that nothing could ever close it.
It was the sound of today and the sound of a million better tomorrows. It was the sound you had been waiting for all your life. It was the sound of destiny.
And it was heard loud and clear in Detroit and Delhi, in Louisville and Liverpool, in Hibbing and Harrow, in Memphis and Manchester, in Newcastle and New Orleans, in Sydney and Singapore, in Paris and Paros, in Zeebrugge and Zurich.
It was heard loud and clear in Norfolk Virginia where Norman ‘General Johnson’, Milton, ‘Smokes’ Bates, Dorsey ‘Chops’ Knight, Gene ‘Cheater’ Knight and Leslie ‘Fat Boy’ Felton formed a group which came to be known as The Showmen.
In 1961 in New Orleans under the tutelage of the great Alan Toussaint (RIP) they cut a record for Minit Records which with sashaying charm really says it all (and you can dance close, really, really close to your true love while you’re listening)
‘ It will be here for ever, Ain’t gonna fade, Never no never … Rock and Roll forever will stand’.
It Will Stand was a top 100 hit in 1961 and 1964 and a radio and Jukebox hit always and everywhere. It’s irresistible good humour is bound to lift every heart and bring a smile to every face.
Who can stand against heartbeats and drum beats, finger popping and stomping feet, saxes blowin’ sharp as lightnin’, voices lifted in harmonious joy and celebration?
Some artists have a ragged but right, rough and ready, rock and roll heart. Think Keith Richard, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Westerberg and Ray Davies.
Think Jonathan Richman who has always had the keys to the secret heart of Rock and Roll.
Jonathan knows in his very bones that Rock and Roll will stand. And I’ m here to tell you he’s 100% right.
Rock and Roll will stand.
Rock and roll will stand because of Chuck Berry’s cruising Cadillac way with words.
Rock and roll will stand because of Jerry Lee Lewis’ backwoods testifying and hotter than hellfire piano.
Rock and roll will stand because of the you can feel it in the pit of your stomach and centre of your soul Bo Diddley beat.
Rock and roll will stand because of the tenderly tough crooning of Gene Vincent.
Rock and Roll will stand because you can still hear the sonic boom that followed the entry of the quasar – Little Richard, into our universe.
Rock and roll will stand because Elvis Aron Presley’s stance and singing tilted the axis of the earth.
Rock and roll will stand because Don and Phil Everly sang sweeter than any nightingale choir.
Rock and Roll will stand because Dion and The Belmonts sang Homeric tales of street corner life.
Rock and Roll will stand because Antoine Fats Domino made everyone’s day brighter every time he sat down at the piano to sing!
Rock and Roll will stand because that mist you see high above in the dawn sky is the vapour trail of The Moonglows, The Orioles, The Penguins and The Five Satins.
Rock and roll will stand because Lowman Pauling, Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Lonnie Mack made their strings rumble and flash like thunder and lightning.
Rock and Roll will stand because of Buddy Holly’s heartening and heartbreaking songs.
Rock and Roll will stand because Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Charlie Watts and Ringo Starr laid down a beat that can never die.
Rock and roll will stand because Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, Greenwich, and Barry. Pomus and Shuman and Bumps Blackwell told us the story of our lives and made us dance and fall in love at the same time.
Rock and Roll will stand because The Shangri Las, led by the great dramatic actress Mary Weiss, found grand opera in the lives of teenage girls.
Rock and roll will stand because John Lennon and Paul McCartney sagged off school and learned to write songs that made you feel that to be alive was a very fine thing indeed.
Rock and roll will stand because one of the great American pathfinders Bob Dylan refused to recognise the bounds of the maps he inherited while brilliantly and brazenly opening up a whole new territory for song.
Rock and roll will stand because Jimi Hendrix unleashed a cosmic orchestra of sound from the electric guitar.
Rock and Roll will stand because true artists like Patti Smith keep reinventing it!
Rock and roll will stand because Brian Wilson, a chubby kid from Hawthorn California, heard a celestial blend of voices and instruments in his head and had the genius to make that blend come alive in pop symphonies.
Rock and Roll will stand because even though Amy Winehouse drew a losing hand in love and life she left a lasting legacy of songs that will always wring our hearts.
Rock and Roll will never die because though Pete Townsend grows old, ‘My Generation’ never will.
Rock and Roll will stand because Lucinda Williams knows what a sweet old world we live in and can make us cry as we realise that.
Rock and Roll will never die because that’s what you listen to, full blast with the top down, as you leave a town full of losers – pulling out to win.
Rock and roll will stand because somewhere right now a teenage singer is thrusting out his hip, leaning into the mike and counting the band in:
.. ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’
Rock and roll will stand because somewhere right now a teenage guitarist is windmilling his arm and about to hit that magic, magic note.
Rock and Roll will stand because somewhere right now in a back bedroom while her parents are asleep a teenage songwriter has found a way to express the inexpressible thrill of falling in love.
Rock and Roll will stand because in a basement across the tracks a band are vamping for all their worth as they chant in unison,
‘And her name is G L O R I A!’.
Rock and Roll will stand because you KNOW exactly what; Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding, Awop Bop a Loo Bop a Lop Bam Boom and Great Googly Moo really, really, mean.
Rock and Roll will stand.
This is Christmas Cracker 4 and the 100th post on The Immortal Jukebox – an opportunity for me to thank everyone who has read, commented and shared these missives from my own Rock and Roll heart. I hope you will stick with me for the next 100!