Saturday, January 06, 2007


While people may know me as a writer and educator, one other of my many passions is popular music. I'm talking the kind of music that put the "boom" in babyboomer. I'm talking hard driving rock and roll and lean, mean R&B.

WAIT!!! Stop the music! R&B? You mean like Snoop Dog? Mary Blige? Ciara? You talking Toni Braxton? What about Usher?

What? Stop. {doing my best James Brown spin and shuffle cross the stage.} Snoop? Mary who? Good God, Y'all. I'm talking 'bout Edwin Starr, Wilson Pickett, Bo Didley, and THE GODFATHER hisself, the hardest working man in show business--James Brown. Don't ever put Snoop Dog and Aretha in the same category.

Now, I'm not sure when we allowed the term Rhythm and Blues to be co-opted, but it has to stop. Shall I tell you where the term came from? According to sources, Jerry Wexler coined the term in 1947. It replaced the label: race music. What is R&B? Listen up you misguided lovers of hip-hop and you might learn something.

Rhythm and Blues is a twelve bar blues format that combines boogie woogie with a backbeat. Amen. Rhythm and Blues would form the foundation of good old fashioned twelve bar rock and roll.

So give me some Chuck Berry. I want to hear that guitar, I want to hear the sax. I want to dance with Sam and Dave, clap my hands with Little Richard, and hang with Ray Charles. You wanna boogie with Snoop? Head on down the hall.


Anonymous said...

Love your taste in music, Stewart. Love R&B, funk, soul. I may have been the only white girl in Berks County, PA, to watch Soul Train on a weekly basis. Fun post.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I went to bed every night as a teen with a small radio under my pillow, listening to a NY dj named Moondog play Rhythm & Blues until he went off the air at 2:30.

It made it hard to get up for school a few hours later, but I never regretted a single minute of lost sleep.

Those were the days.

DesLily said...

i loved Bo Didley and James Brown and the likes...and you are sooo right.. they put the boom in babyboomers lol..

makes me feel sorry for the youth of today.. not having those people to admire and enjoy

Stewart Sternberg said... Detroit we had WKNR, and the Canadian CKLW. And if you liked your soul cooked well and spiced there was the soul station: WCHB. Yeah, I remember then that the radios didn't broadcast all night when I was a kid. They went off the air around midnight in the early sixties.

lee said...

The old stuff I like, the new stuff is just spewsic, isn't it? :).

Kiyotoe said...

even at my tender age of 30, I also recognize that music just "ain't" what it used to be.

I have to give credit where it's due, a good friend I met in college (Paz from The Path) opened my eyes to all new kinds of music. REAL music.

As opposed to the simple, unoriginal, uncreative stuff I was used to in high school.

molly said...

Pffft, who would put Snoop and Aretha in the same category?
She can sing like nobody's business
and he can barely rap.

I don't listen to much R&B, a little Otis Redding and some Temptations

JR's Thumbprints said...

Would it be okay to put George Thorogood & the Destroyers in this category? I remember someone from the media asking George why he played so many Chuck Berry tunes and he replied, "Because he wrote so many damned good songs."

Aisby said...

great songs. I don't mind listening to a little "newfangled music" but I'm more than aware that it lacks the creativity and soul of the older and much better music.

Crazy Eddie said...

Growing up in a hispanic family, not only was I influenced by my grandmother's classis salsa albums, but I was also fortunate enough to also be exposed to some of the best Classic R&B albums ever. From the Temptations to Gladys Night (and her wonderful pips)to Stevie Wonder, my penchant for everything old was fed by my loving and musicly inclined family.

I really enjoyed this post Stewart. It's nice to know that you too can appreciate such classic artists. Rock on brotha!!

Pythia3 said...

Hey Stewart - hope you're feeling better . . . I was thinking about you.
I love music. I mean I REALLY LOVE music - can't live without it!(I was a professional dancer for years - and no, not that profession!)
I saw Dreamgirls last night. It was fantastic! I am especially proud of the music that has come out of Detroit over the years . . . Motown, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder . . . to name a very few . . . Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Eminem, even Techno has its roots here. (Madonna is OFF my list - hope she stays away and never mentions Detroit again.)
Anyway - thanks for this posting as I am so in the Motown mood after Dreamgirls!
And as for CKLW - I grew up with that station. I saw a documentary on PBS about CKLW (in December)and I ordered the DVD. The program was great and brought back so many memories - plus I learned some behind the scenes things that were pretty interesting.
Take care.
Peace, Lindy

Sheila said...

I love aretha franklin and I always find myself singing along to Johnny B. Good. It also brings flashbacks of Michael J. Fox playing guitar in Back to the Future. If it wasn't for music, the world just wouldn't be as interesting. Music is very expressive, much like literature. I love it!

Turnbaby said...

Adore your taste in music. And you might want to check out Taylor Hicks--forget about the American Idol schmaltz they made him sing. He's the real deal.

Stewart Sternberg said...

JR...George worth my hard earned cash anytime.

Lindy..see you Thursday. And JR..feel free to join us there.

Sheila..I LOVED Michael J Fox in that role. And the music for the film provided by Huey Lewis and the News, how good was that?

Folks, please don't discount some wonderful new music coming from wonderful new talent. I am not one of those who sits and says they stopped making good music thirty years ago.

turnbaby, based on your recommendation, I shall give him a listen.

Turnbaby said...

Oh and I forgot----you would also like Randall Bramblett---you can hear some tunes at