Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rock and Roll History I and II

Leave it to the University of Oregon to have a legitimate class on rock history.  My sister and I were roommates my Freshman year, and took the class together, both parts one and two.

Part one focused on the musical precursors to what would be called Rock&Roll, such as blues, jazz and country. The legends were all covered, like Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. One could walk into the class, and hear Berry singing

Sweet Little Sixteen
she just gotta have
about half a million
famed autographs

When it came time to talk Elvis, the teacher explained the importance of the 2/4 back beat to any rock song. To demonstrate, he played us Hound Dog, and of course, Elvis's Sun Records sessions.  Why would or should there be a class in rock history?  It was the teacher's contention that rock music has a big enough impact on our culture in terms of style, language, and even economy, that it merited a class in the Music Department.  Like any class,  students took mid-term and final tests.  The teacher would grant "a half a grade on the mid-term" for correctly answering trivia questions.  I think I got one for knowing that country singer Hoyt Axton's mother wrote Heartbreak Hotel.

Part Two covered The British Invasion, the Psychedelic era, and punk:  The Beatles, Stones, and The Who. This time, for half a grade on the mid-term, the teacher played The Who's Can't Explain, and asked us to name the famous guitarist who sat in on the session.

A quiet young man in the back quietly answered, "Jimmy Page".  Fun factoid, members of The Who helped give the band Led Zeppelin it's name, joking the Page's band would go down like one.
The final test for Rock History II consisted of us listening to three songs:   Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit, Talking Heads' Life During Wartime, and the Sex Pistol's God Save the Queen. In an essay were to articulate the similarities of the three songs. I think I babbled something about protest songs and/or anti-government.

My sister and I threw a party at our apartment after "finals".

And this is how I became so annoying about trivia.

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