Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pure Boomer Pop: "Wouldn't It Be Nice"


It's not like there wasn't joyous popular music before the post-war baby boom. Louis Armstrong took the sound of New Orleans "second line" music global, and there's no music that feels better than that. The pop R & B of Louis Jordan, a precursor to rock and roll, was all about the fun; not any angst there. But the joy of the post-war sound was different: It was technicolor. It was optimistic. It was more youth oriented, too, and it was all set in motion by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and of course, Elvis. Not every piece of art needs to balance light and dark motifs. No, sometimes, as with Brian Wilson's "Wouldn't It Be Nice," as in so much of what we call pop music, it can be all light, like when you perceive the love that constitutes the beating heart of the universe. Sometimes when things look bleak or life feels like it's in a rut, you just need to emphasize, or re-emphasize, that "there is something good in feeling good," as John Trudell put it in his tribute to Elvis called "Baby Boom Che." The drum hit at 0:06 of "Wouldn't It Be Nice," is like an ecstatic, innocent cannon shot proclaiming the revolution Trudell described at the end of his poem-song:
It’s like we were the Baby Boom because
Life needed a fresher start
I mean two World Wars in a row is
Really crazy man
And Elvis even though
He didn’t know he said it
He showed it to us anyway
And even though
We didn’t know we heard it
We heard it anyway

Man like he woke us up
And now they’re trying to put us
Back to sleep
So we’ll see how it goes

Anyway look at the record man
Rock ’N Roll is based on revolution
Going way past 33⅓
You gotta understand man he was
America’s Baby Boom Ché
I oughta know, I was in his army
It's often observed that the Beach Boys' music reflected the optimism of Southern California. But how then do you account for the equally joyous music of the Beatles, which emanated from soot-stained Liverpool? No it wasn't geographical, it was spiritual, like Trudell suggests.

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