Thursday, July 26, 2007

The 50th Anniversary Music Project (Status Report)

As previously reported, I've spent much of the year compiling a collection of popular (and semi-popular) music released over the past fifty years, as a gift for my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. It's been a ton of work, but it's also been a ton of fun - figuring out what to put on, what to leave off, searching for songs on CD that I previously owned only on vinyl, and finding songs that I've never owned, but ones that played a key role in various parts of family history.

Music has always been one of my obsessions, and my brothers and I listened to a lot of different stuff as we were growing up. Some of it was great, and some of it was dreck. The goal of the project was to create a compilation that was true to that history, but also true to the history of rock and roll itself - in other words, good stuff.

The anniversary is now less than a month away, and now I'm in the process of putting liner notes together, including my own thoughts on many of the songs, as well as classic writing about them from such critical luminaries as Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Robert Christgau, Paul Nelson, Lester Bangs, and others.

In the meantime, over the next few weeks I'll write a bit about each of the sections within the compilation. Without further ado...

I. Have You Heard The News? There’s Good Rockin’ Tonight

Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley
Whole Lotta ShakinGoin’ On, Jerry Lee Lewis
School Day, Chuck Berry
That’ll Be The Day, Buddy Holly
Wake Up Little Susie, The Everly Brothers
At The Hop, Danny and the Juniors
Summertime Blues, Eddie Cochran
Chantilly Lace, The Big Bopper
Peggy Sue, Buddy Holly
Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry
Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis
All Shook Up, Elvis Presley
Good Golly Miss Molly, Little Richard
Do Ya Wanna Dance, Bobby Freeman
Ain’t That A Shame, Fats Domino
The Girl Can’t Help It, Little Richard
I Only Have Eyes For You, The Flamingos
Rave On, Buddy Holly
Tequila, The Champs

The most difficult part of this section was keeping it to a manageable size; in an early draft it was nearly twice as long. Most of the songs here are fairly obvious choices, but obviously any collection of this type has to include the titans: Elvis, Buddy, Jerry Lee, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. The other songs are classics in their own right, with several of them appearing on the soundtrack of one of my parents' favorite movies, American Graffiti.

When looking for some of the songs to put this section together, I was lucky enough to find a 5-year collection of Billboard #1 hits covering 1957-61, and a used copy of the soundtrack from the aforementioned American Graffiti. As it was on many other occasions, the used section of Dimple Records in Elk Grove was a Godsend.


Larry Lehmer said...

What a great idea! Your project combines two of my passions -- music and family history. As Dick Clark is fond of saying, "Music is the soundtrack of our lives." Your list brings back many memories. Thank you.

Jeff said...

Thank you, and you're welcome! It was definitely one of the most fun things I've ever done. Stay tuned for further chapters.