Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Monday, May 15, 2017

How Jimi Hendrix Set Black Music Artists Stone Free

“I get a kick out of playing. It’s the best part of this whole thing, and recording too. I wrote a song called ‘I Don’t Live Today,’ and we got the music together in the studio. It’s a freak-out tune. I might as well say that, ’cause everyone else is going to anyway…” – Jimi Hendrix
“Freak out” is an apt way to describe how the world reacted to Jimi Hendrix. In 1966, the rock legend arrived in London an unknown guitarist from New York City looking to establish himself as a star. 
In September, former Animals bassist-turned-music manager Chas Chandler began taking Hendrix around The Smoke, and actively recruited a band to support him, nabbing drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding. That same month, at a Cream show at Regent Street Polytechnic, Hendrix took the stage alongside that power trio to play a kinetic version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” After a short tour of France, The Jimi Hendrix Experience were signed to Track Records by Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, managers of The Who.
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Saturday, May 13, 2017

50 Years Ago: We First Get to Experience Jimi Hendrix

Released in May 1967 in the U.K. and three months later in the U.S., the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Are You Experienced was a game changer. After hearing the album for the first time, what guitarist doesn’t think, “Oh s—, what do I do now?”

There’s more than just standard Chuck Berry riffing going on here and more than Dave Davies-style power chords. Hendrix developed a whole new language for the electric guitar, a language that, all these years later, is still being translated by generation after generation of hopeful guitar heroes.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

It Was 40 Years Ago Today: Recording 'Exile on Main Street'

"You don't get a take till Keith starts looking at Charlie and moving nearer to him, and then Bill gets up out of his chair and stands up. Then it transforms into the Rolling Stones," says Andy Johns, the engineer who recorded much of the Stones' Exile on Main Street almost four decades ago. 

"The rest of the time, it's just rubbish. But if Bill gets out of his chair, and Keith's looking at Charlie, you know you're getting pretty close. And it goes from 'What the hell is this?' to 'Fucking hell!' It's an off-planet experience." 

Though Johns' résumé as engineer and producer includes more than 200 projects, with Number One albums stretching all the way from Led Zeppelin IV to Godsmack's IV, he has never quite escaped that sweltering basement in the South of France, with Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — still young and lithe, shirtless and sweating — grinding out limping, out-of-tune versions of songs in progress over and over and over again, until the Rolling Stones suddenly materialized. 

Then again, the Stones have never quite escaped it either.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Led Zeppelin Albums Ranked

Led Zeppelin, the original hammer-swinging band of rock gods, is back—and all it took was Chris Hemsworth to pull it off. (Or is that Liam?) The English supergroup of the 1970s is now the supergroup for the 21st-century superhero set, with its stomping 1970 classic “Immigrant Song” powering the Thor: Ragnarok trailer to record downloads and entering the Billboard charts for the first time since its release. (There’s also a rumor swirling that Zeppelin may reunite for this summer’s Desert Trip Festival.)
Before it soundtracked a Marvel movie trailer, of course, “Immigrant Song” was the opening track from Led Zeppelin’s 1970 monument, Led Zeppelin III, with Robert Plant’s banshee wail heralding a new era of hard rock and metal. 
For all its innovation and impact, though, few fans rank Led Zeppelin III as the band’s finest hour. But now that it’s back on the air and seducing a new generation of listeners, perhaps it’s the perfect time to revisit the group’s catalogue and sort it out for an audience eager to explore Zeppelin’s legendary 11-year recording career.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sgt. Pepper to Be Celebrated

PBS will join the 50th anniversary celebration surrounding the Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band next month by airing a BBC documentary offering a look behind the scenes of the album’s creation and cultural legacy.

Titled Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution and scheduled for a June 3 debut, the hour-long special promises “material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road Studios, including recordings of studio chat between band members and isolated instrumental and vocal tracks” while revealing “the nuts and bolts of how the album came together” and offering “insights into the choices made by the Beatles and George Martin.”

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Monday, May 8, 2017

It's Only Rock and Roll: Ranking All 374 Stones Songs

Time doesn’t apply to the Rolling Stones quite like it does to other rock bands. Their longevity is staggering — this band has been around for 55 years. Fifty-five years! 
Founding members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts have been hitched to each other for far longer than the vast majority of marriages last — longer than a lot of lives last, too.
That staying power is an incredible achievement, and it also has a distorting effect. If you’re a fan of the Stones, it’s hard not to always compare them with their glorious 1968 to 1972 peak, when they fully assimilated all their blues, rock-and-roll, R&B, and country influences and turned it into something decadent, dark, ironic, sexy, and wholly their own. 
That leaves 45 ensuing years of gradually declining cultural relevance and, if we’re being honest, more mediocre music than good, and a seemingly ceaseless parade of product — compilation albums, concert films, live albums, and, recently, the traveling “Exhibitionism” display of band memorabilia. In 2017, it seems equally reasonable to think of the Rolling Stones as rock gods or greedy dinosaurs. Either characterization, though, is inadequate.
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Friday, May 5, 2017

10 Great Power Pop Songs

Sure, classic rock fans love pop music – but they prefer it with a little extra punch. So, we’ve created the Top 10 ‘Power Pop’ Rock Songs, in honor of the 35th anniversary of a significant year in the subgenre: 1978. 

This was the year that Cheap Trick released the masterpiece ‘Heaven Tonight’ and played their legendary shows at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan (although the resulting live album wouldn’t hit the U.S. until ’79). It was the year that the Cars released their classic, self-titled debut, along with its three hit singles. And 1978 marked the founding of the Knack, who would land a power pop blockbuster the following year.

Although the phrase “power pop” had been coined in the ’60s (thank you, Pete Townshend) and the style would remain strong for decades to come (hello Fountains of Wayne and Matthew Sweet), the period between the early-’70s and early-’80s contains power pop’s strongest tunes. Here are 10 gems from that era.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The History Behind CSN&Y's 'Ohio'

On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen squared off against anti-war demonstrators on the campus of Ohio’s Kent State University.

The student protest was sparked by President Richard Nixon’s announcement on April 30 that U.S. troops would invade Cambodia, escalating the already unpopular war in Vietnam.

The deadly confrontation that followed would become known as the Kent State Massacre, and was immortalized in one of rock’s greatest protest songs, “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

60s/70s Song for Sunday: 'Aqualung' by Jethro Tull

I was never a big fan of Ian Anderson or Jethro Tull.

But I loved this song, especially the guitar solo and the energy it generates. It was on heavy play rotation during my college years at Villanova University and I did see the band once live in concert.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Little Steven, Springsteen Reverse Roles

On the day Little Steven Van Zandt chose to discuss “Soulfire,” his first solo album in 18 years, longtime pal and E Street leader Bruce Springsteen released the furiously anti-Trump rocker, “That’s What Makes Us Great,” a song more scathing than any in the Boss’ catalog.
“You’re making news with me,” says Van Zandt, chuckling as he confesses to not having heard the version (the song was written by Joe Grushecky) or even that his friend was up to such harsh political rhetoric. “It’s funny and ironic considering that he and I have pretty much switched places from where we both started — him being the more moderate socially concerned one and me being the more direct, specifically political one back then. We have definitely reversed roles.”
The Boston-born, honorary New Jersey-an (as much for his time acting on HBO’s “The Sopranos” as Springsteen’s de facto bandleader and occasional co-producer) spent the 1980s making some of rock’s most furiously and politically charged music with 1982’s Men Without Women and 1984’s Voice of America, both precursors to Van Zandt’s 1985 creation of the music-industry activist group Artists United Against Apartheid (U2, Pete Townshend, and Bob Dylan were but three of its members) and the battle cry “Sun City” with the South African Sun City resort as its primary target.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The United States of Piano Man Billy Joel

For those of you who wondering, this is what happens at a Billy Joel concert: 

A mother tries to cajole her reluctant young son to twist with her to “Only the Good Die Young.” A 45-year-old man in a Billy Joel-themed softball jersey, sitting third row and visible to all, hoists aloft a New Jersey vanity license plate that reads “Joel FN” and uses it to air-drum to “Pressure.” Three 20-somethings on a ladies’ night out shoot a Boomerang of themselves swaying to “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” A sexagenarian in business attire uses a lull during Joel’s Perestroika-era ditty “Leningrad” to crush some work emails on his BlackBerry Priv. A 19,000-strong congregation—carpenter jeans and Cartier watches, Yankee caps and yarmulkes, generationally diffuse and racially homogenous—all dance, terribly and euphorically, to “Uptown Girl.”

For more than two years now, Joel has held a “residency” at Madison Square Garden, performing monthly gigs that are slated to last, in Joel’s words, “as long as there is demand.” 

What drew me out to a recent MSG show is the staggering breadth of the current demand for Billy Joel. Since launching the residency in 2014, The Piano Man has sold out the Garden 40 times with performances already scheduled into July.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Little Stevie, Springsteen Jam at the Jersey Shore

They did it again.
Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen, friends since their teenage years, rocked the stage of the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park for the second night on a row on Saturday, April 22 in the city’s Asbury Park Music and Film Festival.
On Friday, April 21, Springsteen and  Van Zandt participated in a jam celebrating the former Upstage Club of Asbury Park. On Saturday, Springsteen joined Van Zandt’s newly reconfigured Disciples of Soul for two songs, Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny,” and “It’s Been a Long Time,” a track Van Zandt originally wrote for Southside Johnny, to close the show,
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Top-20 Song List for Earth Day (And Let's Make Every Day Earth Day)

Way back on April 22, 1970, the first-ever Earth Day was celebrated – something we’re honoring with the Top 20 Earth Day Songs.

Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day is acknowledged around the world, especially in schools where students are taught about environmental conservation and what everyone can do to support it.

Of course, students of rock and roll have been schooled in “green” ideology for decades, with prominent classic rock artists expressing their observations on the need to protect the planet we share. Below are some of the best Earth Day Songs.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Donald Trump May Make Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young Great Again

Musician Graham Nash has been very vocal in the last two years about his anger with bandmate David Crosby over a series of personal clashes, so much so that fans of 1960s supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had all but given up hope of a reunion. However, Nash now says that an even greater disdain for President Donald Trump and the current administration could change that.
“Here’s how I feel about it: I believe that the issues that are keeping us apart pale in comparison to the good that we can do if we get out there and start talking about what’s happening,” Nash says of a possible CSNY reunion. “So I’d be totally up for it even though I’m not talking to David and neither is Neil. But I think that we’re smart people in the end and I think we realize the good that we can do.”
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Friday, April 21, 2017

45 Years Ago, Dr. John Returns to His New Orleans Roots

This was no accident for Dr. John

The former Mac Rebennack purposely discarded his initial Night Tripper persona for a rootsy homecoming on Dr. John’s Gumbo, drawing a newfound group of psychedelic rock fans deeper into the culture – rather than the often-outlandish voodoo-related gimmickry – of his hometown of New Orleans.

Released on April 20, 1972, Dr. John’s Gumbo included rambunctious covers of local fare like “Iko Iko,” “Stack-A-Lee” and “Junko Partner” – songs that had already defined the Crescent City sound. They finally broke a Mardi Gras-themed fever for Dr. John, providing a platform for a more funk-focused breakthrough the following year.
Part of it was a desire to connect the musical dots, and part of it was about the money.

Dr. John’s Gumbo, he said in the album’s liner notes, was “like a picture of the music New Orleans people listen to – a combination of Dixieland, rock ‘n’ roll and funk. … This album could very well be called More Gumbo, Less Gris Gris. There isn’t any what you might call voodoo rock or ‘gris-gris,’ because my producers and I thought that the people might enjoy hearing the root music from New Orleans, which was maybe the chief ingredient in what we know today as rock ‘n’ roll.”

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Top 10 Classic Rock Songs About Pot

Judging from the lyrics of these famous pot songs, marijuana has been part of the lifestyle and creative processes for some of rock’s most famous stars for a long time now. 

It seems pretty clear that artists like Tom PettyBob Dylan and Aerosmith didn’t wait for the recent wave of reefer-friendly legalization in states across America to take effect before drawing inspiration from lighting up. 

Come to think of it, legalization may ironically wind up diminishing some of the romantic appeal of writing songs about pot, so before that prospect turns into a real downer, why don’t you join us as we celebrate the Top 10 Pot Songs.

To keep reading, click here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Some Songs That Defined Our History

Music has the uncanny ability to freeze a moment in time, to boil an era down to its essence. 

To celebrate the upcoming premiere of CNN’s Soundtracks: Songs That Defined History, we took a moment to look back on some of history’s defining events – both the triumphant and the tragic – and the mirroring songs that became anthems for a movement, or embodied a sentiment. 

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Warren Zevon Belongs in the Rock Hall of Fame, David Letterman Says

David Letterman’s speech for Pearl Jam when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this month was one of the night’s funniest and most moving moments.

In addition to remarking on the band’s rotating lineup of drummers and recalling a note singer Eddie Vedder gave Letterman’s young son, the former late-night host made a simple, but not at all surprising, request: “One day I hope to come back here for the induction for my friend Warren Zevon,” he said.

We totally agree.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

60s/70s Song for Sunday: 'I Got a Line on You' by Spirit

I first heard the song in drummer Eddie Supernavage's living room in my South Jersey hometown of Bridgeton performed live by Eddie, Rob Champion and Tim Melnick in 1969.

It was love at first listen.

Since then, it has remained on my list of Top 10 favorite songs of all-time and was a staple on the setlist of classic rock bands I played in from Frog Ocean Road to Final Vinyl.

Hope you enjoy ...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

These 10 Songs Won't 'Tax" Your Ears

Let’s face it. Tax Day forces money even more than usual on our collective brains. 

Well, with that in mind, since music can be a great soother and mood elevator, today seems like a really good day to sift through the playlist of our lives for some money-based tracks to add a little lift to our step. 

Whether it is a serenade of the cold hard cash’s material perks or the commiserating misery that comes from hearing of someone else doing without, songs about the almighty dollar may be a dime a dozen but the following ten are golden.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

The 12 Best Songs by Carole King

Carole King’s contributions to pop music songwriting and rock ’n’ roll history can’t be overstated. 
Her work, both as a composer and performer, continues to be the gold standard of fine form matched to pop melody. In fact, other canonic musicians ranging from Aretha Franklin to The Animals and The Drifters to Dusty Springfield have performed her music, partially to honor the legend and partially to make her work their own hits.
With dozens of pop standards to her name, it’s a challenge to narrow down even King’s greatest hits much less her deep cuts, overlooked gems and standout tracks from less popular and later albums. But to name her 12 best songs, calls for an emphasis on her golden years of partnership with Gerry Goffin, their work at the Brill Building and her 1971 masterpiece album Tapestry.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Inside Unheard Outtakes from 'Sgt. Pepper's'

There's something magical about hearing Sgt. Pepper outtakes in Studio Two of Abbey Road — the same room where the Beatles made the album. The studio looks the same as it did in 1967 — even the same baffles hang on the wall. "Abbey Road is a bit like a salad bowl or a teapot," producer Giles Martin, son and heir to George Martin, tells Rolling Stone. "The walls absorb music."

There's no better place for Rolling Stone to experience an exclusive tour of the Pepper vaults, as Martin spends a hard day's afternoon giving us a one-on-one preview: the previously unheard and unreleased treasures on the new 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The box has alternate takes of each song — in some cases drastically different and all offering revelatory insights into the most legendary of rock masterpieces. It's the first time the Beatles have opened their vaults and released new recordings since Anthology.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guitarist J. Geils Dies

John Warren Geils Jr., better known as J. Geils, the guitarist of the the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his home in Groton, Massachusetts Tuesday. He was 71.

Rolling Stone has confirmed Geils' death. According to Groton Police, "a preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes."

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Back in the Day: A Look at the Rock Trios of 1967

It is only natural that as part of the overall experimentation going on in pop, attempts at using new combinations of instruments would be tried. The earlier pop groups of the new wave, starting with the Beatles, the Animals, the Stones, and the Beach Boys, were all four-instrument groups, and tended to influence others in that direction. But from the beginning some American groups have attempted to enlarge this concept.
Over two years ago Paul Butterfield was touring with six instrumentalists, and soon after that the Blues Project emerged with five.
The result has been a certain denseness in the music of these expanded ensembles, with the West Coast in particular developing an ornamental sound, emphasizing lots of embellishment, and lots of interaction among soloists.
Oddly, in England the trend has been in the other direction. The Who, the current Yardbirds, the Cream, and Jimi Hendrix are all three-instrument groups. They represent attempts to tighten the music, to eliminate the superfluous, and to get closer to the mythical nitty-gritty. In some cases they are going so far as to eliminate the distinction between background and foreground sounds.
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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The 10 Best Tunes Turning 50 This Year

When The Beatles first celebrated the founding of their fictional Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band “20 years ago today,” little did they know that the world would still be celebrating that milestone half a century later.
It’s little surprise, though. The year of that album’s birth, 1967, still resonates as one of the most significant twelve months in music history. In fact, it’s a renaissance period that resonates even today, for the innovation, invention and exploration that rock music experienced that year has rarely been duplicated, before or since.
For many bands, including Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, Traffic, Buffalo Springfield and the Jefferson Airplane, it meant the first breakout from the underground to the mainstream, with significant songs that defined them and a new era changed rock from pop to progressive. Psychedelic sounds came to the fore, as new arrangements, instrumentation and attitudes inspired changes in underground radio, popular culture and political opinion.
Indeed, 1967 was a year that changed everything and made rock an art form all its own. Here are the 10 best songs turning 50 this year.
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Friday, April 7, 2017

Beatles' Prepping Massive Sgt. Pepper's 50th Anniversary Release

The Beatles will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with several reissue packages arriving May 26th.

A new stereo mix of the album will be available as a single CD and as part of every other package. An expanded deluxe edition will be released digitally, as a two-CD set or two-LP vinyl package. A super deluxe six-disc box set will also be available.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Modern Artists Make Haunting Early 60s Covers Album

Danger Mouse and Brooklyn singer-producer Sam Cohen didn't set out to make a political album when Amazon asked them last November to create a pseudo-soundtrack for dystopian political drama The Man in the High Castle.
"It was just a couple of dudes that wanted to make some cool music and that's what we tried to do," Danger Mouse, whose real name is Brian Burton, tells Rolling Stone. "But everything turned into that. Every conversation that has to do with anything of the time or artistically winds up going in that direction."
It's been nearly five months – 148 days since November 8th, 2016, to be exact – since The Man in the High Castle went, for some, from niche alternative-history show to a prescient totalitarian reality series. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel, it envisions a world in which the Allies lose WWII and the United States is divided into the Greater Nazi Reich and Japanese Pacific States, forcing its inhabitants into total government control with a massive curtailment of human rights.
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Happened to Canned Heat?

In 1968, psychedelia was exploding and even blues-loving avatars of the era like Cream and Jimi Hendrix were increasingly eschewing their roots in favor of paisley pastures.

But one band was perfectly positioned to keep the blue on board for the turned-on generation.

And that band was Canned Heat.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

15 Priceless Warren Zevon Stories

The first time I saw Warren Zevon on stage, I was a young rock critic and he was drunk.

It was May, 1978 and he was performing in Boston, riding high with the improbable hit, Werewolves of London. The concert was something of a shambles.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hall of Fame Keyboardist Talks Santana, Journey

How many musicians can say they’ve co-founded not one—but two—classic rock bands with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame credentials? 

And of those musicians, how many can claim status as a longstanding member of a former Beatle’s backing band? 

With the December announcement of Journey’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—which becomes official on April 7 at the induction ceremony being held in Brooklyn—Gregg Rolie now occupies that rarefied position.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Altamont: The Chilling End of the 60s Spirit

On December 6th, 1969, The Rolling Stones hosted what proved to be one of the most tragic concerts ever at the Altamont Speedway, effectively silencing the rising counterculture movement and, in a sense, the 60’s themselves.
As the turbulent decade went on, what started as a utopian dream of free love and grinning madness born of sunshine and an infectious, enthusiastic hope sadly faded into screams in the dark at Altamont. The Stones front man Mick Jagger beseeched the crowd for a return to sanity, but the wave of heady change that had gone out years before had finally came crashing back in, drowning a dream.
The sixties ended in more ways than one, near the epicenter of the cultural revolution’s birthplace, San Francisco, CA. The spirit that had permeated the heart of any nation, it’s youth, was one of yearning. Yearning for change in social and racial views, an end to the decade long wars in southern Asia and an abandonment of the outdated roles gender inequality. People wanted America to live up to its slogan and truly be “The Land Of The Free.” It had been almost two hundred years since our founding, and after almost two centuries of living a lie, the drive for true freedom was gaining steam.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Some Final Words About the Life, Legacy, and Legend of Chuck Berry

The greatest artists offer a reflection for a nation to see itself and its time, and Chuck Berry, a beautician by trade, knew a thing or two about holding up a mirror for a customer. 

His most famous song, “Johnny B. Goode,” is a classic story of the American dream: A poor, uneducated boy from the sticks uses his ability to make a guitar ring like a bell to make good—or so the listener is left to assume, though Berry left the ending notably ambiguous.

But Berry, unlike his protagonist, didn’t grow up in log-cabin rural squalor—he was a middle-class African American from segregated urban St. Louis. It is another of his compositions, using nearly the same opening riff—and when you write a lick that good, why not reuse it?—that demonstrates Berry’s ability to depict post-war America so convincingly.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chuck Berry: The 20 Essential Songs

Elvis Presley will forever be known as the king of rock & roll in name, but few would dispute Chuck Berry's status as the genre's true godfather – the one most directly responsible for its endlessly adaptable blueprint. 

"Chuck had the swing," Keith Richards told RS. "There's rock, but it's the roll that counts." Here, in the wake of Berry's passing, we survey a selection of the songs that helped make him immortal.

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