The Year 1962: Signaling Significant Changes in American Music, Part One

Posted in: Genres by Gary Davis on July 11th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Music reflects our country’s history in many ways. The year 1962 is one of those years where we can find musical change that ultimately would have a lot of impact on our society.

The year is 1962 and I enter seventh grade. In our school system seventh grade was the first grade in junior high school. I had “arrived.” In addition, for some reason, with the girls, I was a “catch.” It didn’t last long.

I came from a musical family and besides playing the trumpet in the school band had taught myself piano. I loved music and this was the first year I had become acquainted with “pop music.” It happened for two reasons: I was given a transistor radio for my birthday and all my friends had staring listening to the radio.

Little did I know what was going to happen in 1963 with the advent of The Beatles. Also, because I was in the middle of it and not yet aware of different musical styles, I didn’t know that 1962 was signaling a major change in music; not to mention the major change in society.

There were many types of music in 1962 but there was a breakthrough happening spearheaded by African-American artists.

While the year still hosted ballads like “Roses are Red” and “Johnny Angel,” a couple of songs kicked American kids in the head.

Chubby Checker released a song called “The Twist.” This dance involved movement back-and-forth as seen here. This dance initiated dancing without holding one another. Each partner went their own way.

Something else was happening. Chubby Checker’s Twist remained typical rock-and-roll. Little Eva and The Isley Brothers released songs that were forerunners of “Soul Music.”

Little Eva’s song, “Locomotion”, spawned the iconic dance, “The Locomotion”, however what kids didn’t realize was that the song, unlike stereotypical rock-and-roll, presented a “beat” that brought an emphasis on the second part of the note combination. If you listen to the song you will feel the desire to “hit” on the second beat.

Along with Little Eva The Isley Brothers presented “Twist and Shout.;” This song was faster than “Locomotion” but also had that “second beat emphasis.”

What no one could know was that The Beatles were listening to these songs and would, in fact, put their own spin on “Twist and Shout.”

It will take more than one article to evaluate what happened musically in 1962.

I am hoping to a number of articles on the history of music. I believe music does a great job of explaining our country’s history. I find it fascinating.

Hopefully you will too.

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