Thursday, August 18, 2016


Back when we were kids, before our record buying started to eat up every cent of our paper route and lawn mowing money, my brothers and I listened to the radio, a lot. We listened to top forty like every other kid, but we also listened to the oldies station, back when there were oldies stations. They played early rock 'n' roll and soul, doo wop, shit like that. To this day I can't remember what drew us to oldies, but in the overall scheme of things, it was incredible fortuitous. We didn't have to figure out where "Johnny B. Goode" came from when we eventually heard a cover, we already knew. Ditto "Summertime Blues", "Whole Lotta Shakin'" and other early rockers. But why we listened, I'm not sure. We weren't discerning, that much I know. It might be the Coasters one minute, and then with a flip of the dial, Neil Diamond or Mountain. Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" might as well have been "Tutti Frutti" for all we cared. We just ate it up, all of it.

When we finally did start buying records, we just bought anything and everything. Among my younger brother's early LP purchases, right about the time he bought Black Sabbath Vol 4, and Who's Next, were a couple two record sets of greatest hits, one of Bill Haley and his Comets, and one by Eddie Cochran. Not bad for a twelve year old. Having only heard "Summertime Blues" by Cochran, and "Rock Around the Clock" by Haley, there was a lot of unfamiliar rock 'n' roll to be heard, and it was. Over and over and over. Here are two that were in constant rotation in the boys room, particularly "Thirteen Women". Imagine wrapping your young brain around that.

Eddie Cochran - Nervous Breakdown mp3 at Internet Archive
Bill Halley and His Comets - Thirteen Women mp3 at Internet Archive


Anonymous said...

I too was drawn to the oldies at an early age. A good friend of mine got the American Graffiti soundtrack, and we ate that up. Then I started listening to the radio, in 1976. We didn't have an oldies station, but there was a Sunday night oldies show on one of the regular pop stations. It was just obviously better than what I was hearing on the radio the rest of the week -- given that I was 11 and too young for either punk or hard rock. I mean, there was no way that the Carpenters and the Captain & Tenille could match up to the Beatles and Beach Boys and Motown; or Elvis and Chuck Berry. Like you, we listened to everything -- doo wop, Phil Spector, the girl groups. And when I got a little older and started listening to current music, I was drawn to Blondie and the Ramones and Dave Edmunds, who obviously loved the early rock as much as I did. Even nowadays, although I listen to jazz and country and classical, I still go back to '50s and '60s rock, and still love it.


Tom G. said...

Ohhh, man, Marc, that American Grafitti soundtrack was potent, wasn't it. Something like 40 songs spanning 57-62, all grade A shit. I went off on it a while back: