Saturday, November 11, 2017

RACE, CLASS, REGION AND CULTURE IN AMERICAN POPULAR MUSIC. Part 7:Riding Out the Last Wave of the Cold War


PART SEVEN: RIDING OUT THE LAST WAVE OF THE COLD WAR

Southern Rockers
o   Steve Earle, “Copperhead Road”  1986  [“They draft white trash first, around here anyway.”] 
o   Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “You Got Lucky” 1982 
o   Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” 1986  

Working Class Country
o   Merle Haggard, “Are the Good Times Really Over” 1981 
o   Alabama, “Forty Hour Week” 1985 
o   Hank Williams, Jr, “A Country Boy Can Survive”  1982 
o   Charlie Daniels, “Simple Man”  1989 

Still Outlaws
o   The Highwaymen, “Highwayman” 1985 [outlaw country super-group: Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoffersen, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson] 
o   Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, “Pancho & Lefty”  1983  [written by Townes Van Zandt]  

Bruce Springsteen: Working Class Boss
·         “The River”  1980  
·         “My Hometown”  1985 
·         "The Ghost of Tom Joad"    1995

John Mellencamp: Midwest working class
o   “Small Town” 1985  
o   “Rain on the Scarecrow”  1986  

Vietnam Revisited 
                  o   Vietnam was primarily a working class war. It was also a wound to the American   psyche, and was rarely addressed directly by American pop culture in the years right after it ended. It would be at the end of the 1970s that the wartime experience would be explored in major films, and 1982 before the average soldier's life during and after the war would appear on rock and country singles on the radio.
                  "Front Line" by Stevie Wonder   1982  [They had me standing on the front line; now I stand at the back of the line when it comes to getting ahead]
                  "Goodnight, Saigon" by Billy Joel, 1982 [We were sharp, as sharp as knives. And we were so gung-ho to lay down our lives.]
                                    o     "Still in Saigon" by Charlie Daniels  1982  [My younger brother calls me a killer and my daddy calls me a vet.]
                  o   "Walking on a Thin Line" by Huey Lewis and the News, 1983 [Don't you know me, I'm the boy next door -the one you find so easy to ignore. Is that what I was fighting for?]
                   o    "19" by Paul Hardcastle,  1985  [Almost 800,000 men are still fighting the Vietnam War.]
                  o      And of course, Springsteen's 1984  "Born in the USA"  [Ten years burning down the road, I've still got nowhere to run, nowhere to go.]

Athens, Georgia Rock
·         REM, “Finest Worksong” 1988  
·         B-52s, “Roam”  1989  
·         Pylons, “Danger” 1980 

Nashville, TN Rock
o   Jason & the Scorchers, “Absolutely Sweet Marie”  1985   cowpunk
o   Government Cheese “Mammaw Drives the Bus”  1989  
o   Webb Wilder, “Tough It Out”   1991  
          

1980s R&B superstars
o   Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”  1982   
o   Prince, “When Doves Cry”  1984    
o   Whitney Houston, “How Will I Know”  1985  

New School Hip Hop
              Rap moves from disco-inspired dance music to a vehicle for social commentary
o   Precursor (to the social commentary part): Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” 1982 
o   Drum machines, some rock elements; more aggressive and self-assertive. Still centered in NYC.
o   Run-DMC, “King of Rock”  1985  
o   LL Cool J, “I’m Bad”  1987 
o   Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” 1989  
o   From Punk to Rap/Rock: The Beastie Boys, “Fight for the Right (to Party)”  1986  

Gangsta Rap
o   Precursors: Blaxploitation films of the ‘70s; Rudy Ray More’s ‘70s character “Dolemite”
o   Schoolly D   from Philadelphia     first gangsta rapper     (remember at the beginning of the outline- Schoolly D did a gangsta rap version of Rudy Ray Moore’s “Signifying Monkey”) Possibly first rapper to use the term “n***a” on a record
§  “P.S.K. –What Does It Mean?”   1985    (it means “Parkside Killas”, a Philly gang he belonged to)    
o   Ice-T     from Newark, NJ, moved to Los Angeles as a teen
§  “I’m Your Pusher”    1988    
o   N.W.A. (N***az wit Attitudes) from Straight Outta Compton (Los Angeles)
§  Easy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince
§  “Fuck tha Police”   1988  

East Coast vs. West Coast
o   Rap developed in NYC, and virtually all the elements (including the accent) associated with the form did as well; for the first several years, East Coast Rap WAS rap. In the late ‘80s, gangsta rap (though it had East Coast origins) flourished in L.A., with Ice-T and NWA. The West Coast sound was more aggressive and toughened; in the early ‘90s NWA co-founder Dr. Dre introduced the G-Funk (gangsta funk) sound. At around the same time, there was a renaissance in East Coast Rap. Coastal rivalry turned into violent vendetta between Death Row Records (West Coast) and Bad Boy Records (East Coast)
§  West Coast
·         Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dog, “Nuthin' but a G Thang”  1992  G-Funk
·         Tupac Shakur and Thug Life, “Cradle to the Grave”  1994   
§  East Coast Renaissance
·         Wu-Tang Clan, “Bring the Ruckus” 1993   
·         The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls), “Big Poppa”  1994   

·         Nas, “Memory Lane”  1994  

Southern Rap & Hip Hop
o   Geto Boys (Houston) “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me”  1991  
o   2 Live Crew (Miami)  “Banned in the USA”  1990 
o   Kris Kross (Atlanta) “Jump”  1992
o   Arrested Development (Atlanta), “Tennessee”  1992  

The Alternative Years:

Alt-Country
o   Uncle Tupelo, “Moonshiner”  1992 
o   Wilco, “Passenger Side”  1995 
o   Son Volt, “Tear-Stained Eye”  1995
o   Bottle Rockets, “Waitin’on a Train,” 1997  
o   Old 97s, “Salome” 1997 

Outside the Box
o   Lyle Lovett
o   Robert Earl Keen
o   Iris DeMent
§  “Our Town”  1992 
o   Lucinda Williams
§  “Lonely Girls”  2001 
o   Gillian Welch
§  “Red Clay Halo”  2001 
o   Slobberbone

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