Monday, October 15, 2007

"Since Rock N' Roll Went Clean"

Every so often I self-indulgently post song lyrics that I wrote and can't use anywhere else. (Not very often, though, so don't worry.) This is one I wrote for a spot in the One, Two, Three musical I wanted to write; since it took place in 1961, I thought it was worthwhile writing something about the music of 1961 -- the bland, post-'50s, pre-Beatles rock n' roll. The rhythm of this may be incomprehensible without a tune, but anyway I like some of the jokes about early '60s music, though it could use some more specific references.


Oh, tell us, Fraulein Scarlett,

What songs do you sing with your friends?
Won't you give us a list
Of the twists that you twist
And each new weave and bob
We have probably missed?
We're jealous, Fraulein Scarlett,
You know all the musical trends,
So, tell us, Fraulein Scarlett,
The rock-n'-roll music that sends.


American music, American music rocks!
American music is full of electric shocks!
We do all the dances we see on the TV box!
Hopping in socks!

We're zealous, Fraulein Scarlett,
We shake till it gives us the bends.

Rock n' roll has no shame
And it sets us aflame.

But today's rock n' roll
Is a whole different game.

Was ist das? Was ist los?


I'm explaining it badly.
Won't you gather in close
While I try again?



America two years ago
Was in the worst of binds,
'Cause rock n' roll had seized control
Of all the teenage minds.
In sixty-one, we still have fun,
But less offensive kinds.
The army came for Elvis,
Little Richard came to Jesus,
And so we looked around and found
A softer sound to please us.

Since rock n’ roll went clean,
Since rock n’ roll went clean,
Music is preachy
But bouncy and beachy,
So everything’s peachy keen.

Oh, yeah,
Everything’s peachy keen
Since rock n’ roll went clean.

Clean, clean, clean.
Keen, keen, keen.

Since rock n' roll broke through
To something bland and new,
Kids who were shameless
Are perfectly blameless,
‘Cause rhythm became less blue.
Oh, yeah,
Dancing is less obscene
Since Rock n’ Roll went clean.


Woo, woo, woo.

Doo, woo, woo.

All the hits of the week
Are so pretty and meek,
Just give your baby an
Album by Fabian,
Maybe she'll kiss your cheek.
We won’t hop to a song
If the message is wrong,
So baby, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on,
But don’t come on too strong.



Since every single teen
Is part of a machine,
Folks like Chuck Berry
Seem terribly scary,
And probably very mean.
Oh, yeah,
That new Frankie Valli
Is right up our alley,

Which means a finale
For tall girls named Sally,
Since rock n' roll
Got more heart, less soul,
And went clean.

What's become of the joys
Of your dangerous noise?

Rock that's not rock-like
With rhythm that's clock-like
Will never arouse the boys.

Did the law of your land
Cause hot bands to be banned?

What made this come on, come on, come on, come on, come on?


You just don't understand.
We're in a different key,
More fancy and less free,
Happily turning
To high-level learning
Or golfing at Burning Tree.
Oh, yeah!

You no longer back out
Of doing your duty,
You'll cast Wolfman Jack out
And squash Tutti Frutti.

Your dangerous hormones
Are starting to shrivel,
So singers, no more moans;
You want something civil.

Oh, yeah,

Everything's peachy keen,
The bopping and hopping
Is finally stopping,
And when we're not shopping,
We're mostly do-wopping,
America's future is brighter,
'Cause music is so much politer and whiter
Since rock n’ roll went clean.

1 comment:

VP81955 said...

Interesting observation, if not completely an accurate one. Rock 'n' roll circa '61 was perhaps not as raw and exciting as it was in '56 or '57, but its best music was becoming more sophisticated. Think of the "uptown rhythm 'b' blues" from the likes of the Drifters, the beginnings of Motown and soul, Gene Pitney's first records (with plenty of self-overdubbing), and Ray Charles at his commercial peak. Even some of the earlier acts, such as Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, were making fine Top 40 fare. Bruce Springsteen would tell you that music from that era was not the "dark ages" of rock some historians allege it was, and I would agree with him.