STREET CORNER AMERICA (Segue of the Day: 5/13/15)


A few years back there was a meme/thread going around among film bloggers who listed something like “Ten Movies that Explain America.” I missed it.

I’ve thought since, about assembling a “Ten Albums that Explain America.” Given how few movies that aren’t westerns (and by no means all of them), or “concert films” from the sixties, have had anything to do with “America” as either an idea or an actual country with a specific history that marks if off from the general run of nation-hoods humans have assembled through the ages, I think this would make a least a little more sense.

And I might still get around to it…in the meantime, just having the idea buzz around in my head is keeping me alive to the possibilities of what I might include. This week the buzzing lit on my latest acquisition from the Bear Family’s exhaustive series on doo wop, Street Corner Symphonies.

As of now, I’m up to 1954, which was the consolidation year after the quantum leap of 1953. 1953 had the Drifters doing “Money Honey,” the Orioles’ “Crying in the Chapel,” the Harp-Tones’ “Sunday Kind of Love,” the Prisonaires’ “Just Walking in the Rain,” the Crows’ “Gee” and the Clovers’ “Good Lovin’,” just for starters. With the music trying that hard to keep up with itself (and the world starting to take notice), 1954 was bound to find everybody catching their breath.

And, at least the way the Bear Family disc is sequenced, that’s pretty much what happens, even on sides as luminous and epochal as “Earth Angel” and “Sh-Boom.”

Then, without warning, out of the foggy night of long ago, the final three tracks emerge and they are this…

and this…

and this…

I mean, who needs albums (or movies) to explain America?

And who needs ten?

The mystery, the warning, the sweetest possible epitaph.

How much further could you go, really?

And remember, it’s fine to disagree with me…But, if you click over, failing to listen to the end is a crime that can’t be punished except by itself.

7 thoughts on “STREET CORNER AMERICA (Segue of the Day: 5/13/15)

  1. DJ

    I was puttering around with the listings of the records I am putting up on eBay and listening to Coltrane’s DAKAR album when your post came in. So OF COURSE I stopped what I was doing and clicked on over here to read the piece.

    And OF COURSE I had to interrupt Trane to listen to the Medallions, Robins, and Spaniels

    Are there ANY young people today discovering this music?

    Outside of a few East Coast cities and L.A., is it even possible to discover this music today?

    What a loss . . .


    PS: Life could be a dream:

  2. Funny I was just thinking “wow…it sure is a lot easier to access this stuff than it was when I was growing up in the seventies!” Just a few clicks of the mouse away….But of course there’s no continuation of tradition per se. More opportunity than ever, less context than ever. Hello YouTube…Goodbye actual history.

    BTW; It’s gonna be a long time, if ever, before I get a compliment on par with having one of my posts interrupt Coltrane! (lol)

  3. No joke. I did notice the “coincidence” of the year. The songs by the Medallions and the Robins were not known to me, but oh so familiar. I love this stuff!

  4. One thing I keep finding after a lifetime of obsessive listening….Not only is rock and roll bottomless, just about every “phase” or “genre” is bottomless! And to think, when I started this blog, I wondered if there would be enough to write about (lol)!

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