Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Rock, or Planet Rock

One fine day in 1957, my grandmother was headed out to the general store and she asked my wee mother if she'd like anything while she was out. Having just heard Chuck Berry for the first time, my mother asked for the single "Rock and Roll Music". Imagine her horror when my grandmother returned home and deposited into her hands a copy of the Royal Teens' "Short Shorts".

Now, "Short Shorts" was the hit song, but on the flip side there was an instrumental entitled "Planet Rock". The story goes that the little country store did not have any Chuck Berry, and the old folks, not being hip to the new fad that was sweeping the nation, opined that my pre-teen mom would be just as happy with the Royal Teens since there was a 'rock' in the name of one of the songs. Hell, she probably wouldn't even notice the difference.

As long as I can remember, there has never been a 45 of "Rock and Roll Music" in my mother's maroon box of seven inch little records with the big holes, but in addition to "Short Shorts" there are several Elvis records, the obligatory Beatles records, a couple of picture-sleeved Rolling Stones and Animals, and many more.

I'll be Frank. Some of these records stink. But this is a box of nostalgia, so that's not really important. When we were kids, my brother and I did so enjoy playing every record in the box, both sides, at all four speeds available on the 1970s Dual turntable we had. Let's not dwell too much on how bad that was for the needle- the turntable is long gone, anyway. And the records?

Well, what do you think the mail lady just dropped on my doorstep the other day, but a box of 45rpm little records. Their maroon box expired and my mother decided to ship them to me. Some of you might have heard me abusing your ears with them last Friday on Tight Pants. You can get a replay on that as soon as the archive of the show is posted. I can only wish WCBN had 16rpm turntables so I could play "Alvin's Harmonica" for you at that speed, but one thing I could never do as a child was play three of them at the same time. This, and many other reasons, is why I love college radio.

1 comment:

  1. Swell story! Kinda makes me envious - my mom, though born in '45 - seemingly the perfect time to catch all the splendid glory that rock n roll had to offer, was. . . A total square! I've been trying for years, through painstaking hours of attending shows, buying records, and drinking booze to counteract this family crime against American culture. It's not easy, but college radio helps, indeed and for that, I thank you, ol pal!