Shake, Rattle and Roll©Averyell A. KesslerThe sky was still December dark when my alarm clock rattled loud enough to shake teeth out of a corpse. Daylight was a long way off but I had an early class in Allen Hall, an ancient building facing the quadrangle at LSU. I rolled out of bed, stepping quietly to avoid waking my roommate and padded downstairs to the kitchen of my sorority house searching for coffee. When I entered the kitchen, our cook, Alma, was crying. She was an interesting lady and music lover who’d won a skinny legs contest at a Jimmy Hendrix/ Joe Tex concert.“What’s wrong,” I asked.“The king is dead,” Alma sniveled, dabbling her eyes with a tissue.“Elvis?”“Otis Redding,” she answered. “Plane crash last night.”“Oh, no,” I said. “His music is great.” We spent thirty minutes drinking coffee and talking about These Arms of Mine and Try a Little Tenderness.I remembered Otis this week when a strange item popped up on my laptop. It read “Wondering why young people are so angry these days? It’s because their music is $%#%!” Many folks don’t agree, but old time rock and roll still soothes my soul. Our music magic began with a revolution organized by Elvis and Buddy Holly, blessed by the doo-wop guys, and honed to a fine art by Mick Jagger, The Beach Boys, and James Brown. If you want to talk country music, I’ll toss in Charlie Pride’s Kiss an Angel Good Morning and Patsy Cline Walkin’ after Midnight.My music addiction started early when I realized something new was bubbling on the horizon. Big band swing and The Hit Parade were fading because no one cared what was behind The Green Door, or how much That Doggy in the Window cost. Daddy had already refused to listen the Rock Around the Clock, and snapped off Elvis singing Hound Dog on The Ed Sullivan Show. Even though Ed had only shown the upper half of Elvis’ body, rumors of his undulating hips caused community outrage. Suddenly, Joey Dee and the Starlighters burst into view with the Peppermint Twist. Anyone who’d hula hooped in childhood intuitively knew how to twist. Chubby Checker had a hand in it too – Come on baby, let’s do the twist. This was the ideal ice breaker for young teenagers wading into the frightening waters of a boy/girl parties. It was a perfect sing-along, required no body contact, and wore us out in short order – a chaperone’s dream come true. I made a short -lived effort to teach my mother the twist, but she was accustomed to Glen Miller’s big band and never got the hang of it.Then Murrah High School – a joyous mix of blossoming hormones, semi adulthood, the prom, and a sweaty cheek slow dance. We were lulled into romance by Ray Charles, I Can’t Stop Loving You, Percy Sledge crooning When a Man Loves Woman, and the ultimate snuggle up song, Nat King Coles’ When I fall in Love. Whew! If things got too intense, Hey You Get Off My Cloud or Wooly Bully took over. Somehow, we survived.I attended college in South Carolina for one desperate year, just long enough to hear the mellow sound of The Platters, learn to dance the shag, and sing With This Ring in the shower. Although I Can’t Get No Satisfaction was not popular at a women’s college, the Everly Brothers’ When will I Be Loved was well received. The only high point was our Christmas concert and dance when the scheduled performer canceled and the college was forced to hire an unknown substitute. Her name was Dionne Warwick.The next year I arrived at LSU. Party time! I discovered several college hangouts within 5 minutes of campus, all spotlight attractions making it hard to study for exams, compose term papers or arrive bright eyed for a 7:30 AM Botany class on Saturday morning. I learned that fancy heels don’t work well with Soul Man and that cutoff overalls (we called them hog washers) were far more fun. Anything by the Supremes was an instant dance event even if I was in my pajamas at midnight. I tried hard to figure out the mystery lyrics to Louie, Louie, but when that failed, I’d tune my radio to a station featuring Brown Eyed Girl and Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. Somehow, I survived those years too.With little prodding, I’ll say that the music of my generation was terrific. My folks will not be listening to somnolent elevator music in a senior residence or popping Geritol laced Champagne bubbles with Lawrence Welk. We won’t be singing along with Mitch either. We’ll be moving to Honky Tonk Women, Mustang Sally, and listening to Aretha with the volume set to earthquake level. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Maybe I’ll work in a little Elton John too because I really like Honky Cat. I know that it is possible to hum Proud Mary, as well as Mr. Redding’s greatest Dock on the Bay. I can still dance The Shag, but I’m a little rusty with the Watusi. Perhaps I’ll summon up Sixty Minute Man and see if I’ve still got it.My story is not unique. Most folks can summon up a list of favorites from their growing up years. But we all know when Billy Joe McAllister met the grim reaper, and how to open up our hearts and Let the Sunshine In. So, I’m making plans. Maybe I’ll borrow a T-Bird, blast the radio and cruise to the Hamburger stand. Perhaps Maybelline will drive up in her Coupe de Ville and take me for a ride. Maybe aliens will land at Graceland and return Elvis. One thing’s for sure, while we live, let us live. Sock it to me and shama lama ding doing.

2 thoughts on “Shake, Rattle and Roll©Averyell A. KesslerThe sky was still December dark when my alarm clock rattled loud enough to shake teeth out of a corpse. Daylight was a long way off but I had an early class in Allen Hall, an ancient building facing the quadrangle at LSU. I rolled out of bed, stepping quietly to avoid waking my roommate and padded downstairs to the kitchen of my sorority house searching for coffee. When I entered the kitchen, our cook, Alma, was crying. She was an interesting lady and music lover who’d won a skinny legs contest at a Jimmy Hendrix/ Joe Tex concert.“What’s wrong,” I asked.“The king is dead,” Alma sniveled, dabbling her eyes with a tissue.“Elvis?”“Otis Redding,” she answered. “Plane crash last night.”“Oh, no,” I said. “His music is great.” We spent thirty minutes drinking coffee and talking about These Arms of Mine and Try a Little Tenderness.I remembered Otis this week when a strange item popped up on my laptop. It read “Wondering why young people are so angry these days? It’s because their music is $%#%!” Many folks don’t agree, but old time rock and roll still soothes my soul. Our music magic began with a revolution organized by Elvis and Buddy Holly, blessed by the doo-wop guys, and honed to a fine art by Mick Jagger, The Beach Boys, and James Brown. If you want to talk country music, I’ll toss in Charlie Pride’s Kiss an Angel Good Morning and Patsy Cline Walkin’ after Midnight.My music addiction started early when I realized something new was bubbling on the horizon. Big band swing and The Hit Parade were fading because no one cared what was behind The Green Door, or how much That Doggy in the Window cost. Daddy had already refused to listen the Rock Around the Clock, and snapped off Elvis singing Hound Dog on The Ed Sullivan Show. Even though Ed had only shown the upper half of Elvis’ body, rumors of his undulating hips caused community outrage. Suddenly, Joey Dee and the Starlighters burst into view with the Peppermint Twist. Anyone who’d hula hooped in childhood intuitively knew how to twist. Chubby Checker had a hand in it too – Come on baby, let’s do the twist. This was the ideal ice breaker for young teenagers wading into the frightening waters of a boy/girl parties. It was a perfect sing-along, required no body contact, and wore us out in short order – a chaperone’s dream come true. I made a short -lived effort to teach my mother the twist, but she was accustomed to Glen Miller’s big band and never got the hang of it.Then Murrah High School – a joyous mix of blossoming hormones, semi adulthood, the prom, and a sweaty cheek slow dance. We were lulled into romance by Ray Charles, I Can’t Stop Loving You, Percy Sledge crooning When a Man Loves Woman, and the ultimate snuggle up song, Nat King Coles’ When I fall in Love. Whew! If things got too intense, Hey You Get Off My Cloud or Wooly Bully took over. Somehow, we survived.I attended college in South Carolina for one desperate year, just long enough to hear the mellow sound of The Platters, learn to dance the shag, and sing With This Ring in the shower. Although I Can’t Get No Satisfaction was not popular at a women’s college, the Everly Brothers’ When will I Be Loved was well received. The only high point was our Christmas concert and dance when the scheduled performer canceled and the college was forced to hire an unknown substitute. Her name was Dionne Warwick.The next year I arrived at LSU. Party time! I discovered several college hangouts within 5 minutes of campus, all spotlight attractions making it hard to study for exams, compose term papers or arrive bright eyed for a 7:30 AM Botany class on Saturday morning. I learned that fancy heels don’t work well with Soul Man and that cutoff overalls (we called them hog washers) were far more fun. Anything by the Supremes was an instant dance event even if I was in my pajamas at midnight. I tried hard to figure out the mystery lyrics to Louie, Louie, but when that failed, I’d tune my radio to a station featuring Brown Eyed Girl and Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. Somehow, I survived those years too.With little prodding, I’ll say that the music of my generation was terrific. My folks will not be listening to somnolent elevator music in a senior residence or popping Geritol laced Champagne bubbles with Lawrence Welk. We won’t be singing along with Mitch either. We’ll be moving to Honky Tonk Women, Mustang Sally, and listening to Aretha with the volume set to earthquake level. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Maybe I’ll work in a little Elton John too because I really like Honky Cat. I know that it is possible to hum Proud Mary, as well as Mr. Redding’s greatest Dock on the Bay. I can still dance The Shag, but I’m a little rusty with the Watusi. Perhaps I’ll summon up Sixty Minute Man and see if I’ve still got it.My story is not unique. Most folks can summon up a list of favorites from their growing up years. But we all know when Billy Joe McAllister met the grim reaper, and how to open up our hearts and Let the Sunshine In. So, I’m making plans. Maybe I’ll borrow a T-Bird, blast the radio and cruise to the Hamburger stand. Perhaps Maybelline will drive up in her Coupe de Ville and take me for a ride. Maybe aliens will land at Graceland and return Elvis. One thing’s for sure, while we live, let us live. Sock it to me and shama lama ding doing.

  1. You’ve done it AGAIN! What a wake-up call at 8:00 AM here in Alaska. My wife asked if I was crazy; wanting to dance in our sleepwear……but she gave in and loved it as much as I did. Thanks again.

    Like

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