Music, the Art that Keeps Giving...

...even when the artists are gone...

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: October 15, 2006

Music, the Art that Keeps Giving...

As I sit down on this piece, I remember from my most earliest recollection that my life has always had music in it.

Be it good times, bad times, happy times, sad times, or just times....I always remember hearing the beautiful sounds of music, and watching the effect it had on people.

As a kid, I remember watching cartoons and comedy movies where there was an allusion to early rock & roll, and every American boy's fantasy (we're talking pre-Beatles, here) to perform rock & roll up on stage.

"Being cool" with music was alluring and almost decadent in the era of beatniks, neo-rock & roll, black & white TV, neo-hi-fi, and the draft. (The cartoon series "Beanie & Cecil" even had beatnik characters that coined the American term "man...don't bug me"...)

With few English language Latino~American rock & roll role models in the late '50's~early '60's, I can recall with vivid clarity as a kid in the early 1960's, a cartoon spoofing the "cool" of musicians with the "3 little pigs", in which the big bad wolf played trumpet & wanted to join the 3 little pig's rock & roll band, and I became enthralled with zoot suits and rock & roll bands.(To this day, I still remember the ending lyric of the closing song ..."Ya gotta get hot, if you're wanna be cool"..)

Then, in a brief flicker of Hollywood memorabilia, who remembers the scene in the 196o's Jerry Lewis movie "Cinderfella" in which Jerry Lewis's character takes on a part time job as a rock & roll singer-guitarist to make ends meet? Man, did he look cool in that blue metalflake suit or what? Didn't that band rock?

One of my earliest recollections of school in East Los Angeles, circa 1960, was that during naptime (just after our graham crackers & milk), the teacher would play some soothing classical music that I never heard at my house. Brahmm, Beethoven, Mozart, and symphony music just didn't mix with my Mom's jitterbug music, and my Dad's Ranchera, Mariachi, and Jose Alfredo Jimenez jams. Then, to top it off, my first teacher was a beautiful young, Japanese woman (there used to be a lot of them in East L.A. back then), who would every so often play some classical Japanese music. Didn't understand a word of it, but it sure was soothing and could put a bunch of 5 & 6 year olds to sleep for an hour.

Almost every kid back in the day who remembers Saturday morning TV with "Sky King", "the Cisco Kid" and "Roy Rogers", can pretty much sing the Roy Rogers~Dale Evans tune "Happy trails to you" ~ one of my first exposures to Country music.

How many kids remember the early "Amos & Andy" sepia tinted black & white series about Blacks in America? Every so often, they would have an artist or artists perform in a way that would simply hypnotize me. I remember watching a young Lena Horne perform the blues song "Easy street" that to me, represents the first music video I ever saw.

I remember staying up late one night watching TV and eating a half crate of oranges with my 3 brothers (our babysitter got drunk & passed out while our parents stepped out), and we saw a 1957 black & white movie called "shake, rattle, and rock", that opened up with a beautiful young couple dancing jitterbug (now called "swing"), and featured performances by Fats Domino & Big Joe Turner. I have been in love with the idea & concept of dancing with the ladies ever since, and to this day!

Ask anybody over 30 what "elevator or supermarket or dentist office music" is...I'll bet they can tell you. Some of us got our first exposure to music tagging along with Mom back in the day.

Then, around 1964....came the Beatles, a group of young guys from England that did stuff like grow long hair, wear some cool matching suits, play rock & roll in a modern fashion (only 4 guys), and piss off the then contemporary society & establishment with their "against the grain" mode of behavior and music...and it was on!

Rock & roll pretty much fast forwarded the post WW II generation into a clash with the 1960's generation, and a whole established American society changed into one where there was one universal bond and mutually accepted & palatable tonic: MUSIC.

As I've said many times before, ever since our ancestors picked up stones & sticks, and started rockin' out under the moon, music has been one of the most artistic accomplishments of humankind...rnrn rnrn...and despite all the crap we humans have to endure in this World...there ARE a few bennies to being human! I just wish the younger generation could appreciate music for what it is...an art!

....so let the music play!

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme is so cool cool, you'll catch a cold if you stand too close!rnwww.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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