Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Two B's
What a weekend! First, we read that Chuck Berry has passed away. Granted, he lived to be 90, a life that featured many high points, some serious low ones, and, arguably, was the real "King of Rock 'n' Roll."  He paved the way for so many "rockers", from The Beatles to The Beach Boys to Bruce Springsteen to The Rolling Stones to The Yardbirds to Randy Newman - I include the last person because Berry was the first great lyricist of Rock, a literate storyteller who make you laugh at his audacity  and chortle at his rhymes.  There was no better, or few bigger, artists between 1956 and 1964 with hit after hit on the charts at a time when the charts were awash in pablum. Black groups such as The Drifters and The Coasters, the early Motown successes, the "Philly" sound of the Cameo-Parkway label (Chubby Checker, The Orlons), and the emergence of Phil Spector, were just beginning to "cross over" to AM radio.  Chuck Berry paved the way for all that plus the English Invasion of 1964-67.

His brushes with the law became quite famous; when he went "on the road", he insisted on being  paid in cash before he would go onstage and always work with local bands.  He had charisma as big as his ego, ignored the press, and rarely sat for autographs, yet his music spoke to so many. The music he created for Chess Records was a true "fusion" of country, rhythm 'n' blues, "jump" blues, and more.

There are lots of appreciations on line. Check them out. Some have links to songs such as "Maybelline", "Living In The USA", "Promised Land", "You Can't Catch Me", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Sweet Little Sixteen", and "Johnny B. Goode."  You can find them on Youtube and elsewhere.  That's American Music at its best!

For more, go to or
Sunday brought the news of the passing of Jimmy Breslin, a newspaper writer, novelist, and raconteur.  I first read Mr. Breslin when he wrote about my favorite baseball team, The New York Mets, in its first season of ineptitude. "Can Anybody Here Play This Game" was as uproarious as the team was atrocious.  He went to write about the Mafia, the "Son of Sam", the AIDs epidemic, and the plight of poor people not only in New York City but around the country, He ran for office in the Big Apple on a ticket with Norman Mailer, has numerous personal tragedies in his life but it was his columns in the newspaper (most notably for The New York Herald Tribune, the New York Daily News, and Long Island's Newsday) that stood out.  His stories about "real people" never made you feel as if Breslin was faking his sympathy while his diatribes against politicians, gangsters, and others were often filled with vitriol.  This man could write, had an ego the size of the Empire State Building, and you always knew how he felt because he rarely, if ever, held back. Best of all, Jimmy Breslin was a newspaper man and understood the power of the printed word.

Follow these links to learn more - and to, and to

No comments:

Post a Comment