One of the arguments I continually make on this blog (and one of the main reasons this blog exists is to make this particular argument!) is that the notion of early rock and roll–so often propounded by detractors and defenders alike–as a specifically “teen” music is and always has been ridiculous.
I don’t live in an area that hosts many festival-style films in a theater or even turns up many of them in the few remaining video stores, so I haven’t seen the film Sheila O’Malley is reviewing here. But it will probably be hard for me to find stronger evidence for my case than a film about the practical and spiritual struggles of a married gay man in Taiwan being named after–and incorporating into its action–a song co-written in 1960 by 21-year-old Gerry Goffin and 18-year-old Carole King and taken to the top of the charts by the Shirelles, lead-voiced by 19-year-old Shirley Owens.
For leaping out of the traces of time, space and all other purely illusory constructs this might not be on a par with Shakespeare just yet.
But it’s already half a century down the line so it’s gettin’ there….
(By the way this is the sort of record that is often described as “simple.” And I suppose it is, in that way that a lyric by a twenty-one-year old married Jewish kid from New York that happens to define a moment that everyone can relate to but sounds most authentic in the voice of a first-crush teen-age girl, accompanied by a melody written by his eighteen-year-old wife that came to life in the studio when, dissatisfied with the session musicians, she stepped in to play the kettle drums herself and only got as far the studio in the first place because the nineteen-year-old urban African-American lead singer of the group designated to record it, after having first resisted it for being “too country,” decided it might be okay if they put strings on it can be, well…simple.)