Essay About Rock n Roll

Despite the fact that the 1950s in America were a difficult era in the history of the nation, the rise in popularity of Rock n' Roll music during that time managed to bring about a lot of social change. Even in the twenty-first century, the shifts are still noticeable. In contrast to earlier years when they were restricted to the same old culture, rock and roll enabled teenagers to express themselves freely. It also inspired many people to close the gap that existed between races. Additionally, it addressed societal conflicts related to women, politics, socioeconomic class, and generational differences. This paper discusses this issues are going to be addressed in this paper clearly through the help of several books that include Last Train to Memphis by Guralnick, Buried Alive by Friedman, Bruce Springsteen by Dolan, and Can’t buy me Love by Gould.

One of the biggest contributions that Rock music has had on the American culture was its immense impact on racial equity especially on the onset of the 1950s. This was achieved majorly by Elvis Presley who managed to fuse western, and country music with blues and rhythm among other types of music thus came to be popularly referred to as Rock n Roll, which played a huge role in breaking the racial barriers. In Guralnick book “Last Train to Memphis,” he explains how Elvis Presley used to listen to all the types of music played on the radio without choosing his favorites. Thus on Sundays when they would have gone to the church together with his parents, he would sneak out of church without his parents noticing and rush to Reverend Herbert Brewster’s church whereby he would manage to listen to the best black music, which he enjoyed very much (Guralnick 38). At 18 years old, he went to Sun Records with the aim of recording a birthday song to his mom. However, Sam Philips who was the owner of the record label managed to see that he had a bright future in singing ballad music thus decided to talk him into recording more songs. After doing several ballad songs that flopped, he decided to fuse blues into his new signature style thus recording “That’s Alright,” which became his breakthrough song. At first, the type of music was called “nig-grah music” and later on renamed Rock and Roll. The components and sound were new with the tone being flat-out insolent, and to some individuals, the new sound posed a significant threat to desegregation and communism. Elvis infusion of African American style and white type of music in the Rock n Roll managed to deal with the racial discrimination since both sides could listen to the music without preferences thus shaping our current 21st universal musical language. As a result of this rising music, it became possible for all the races to mix too and some uprising involvement of black artists in the popular mainstream movement. It was final; Rock n Roll became a common ground for both races as they all enjoyed dancing the tunes. The new music also allowed the youths to start expressing themselves to their parents freely, which was not done before. Today, Elvis Presley music is being enjoyed in the dance floors; however, during his first experiment on the genre, his movements were scandalous and mostly disgruntled by many parents.

In Gould’s book “Can’t buy me, Love,” Rock and Roll influence in dealing with the socio-economic class barriers in the society is widely explained. The mop-tops’ frolics were set against cultural influences like John Osborne’s, especially in the 1963 Profumo scandal. The author illustrates how the northerners’ inferiority sense that stemmed from Liverpool’s port decline and the high privileged snobs from South of England. Gould deconstructs the Mods and the Teddy boys (Gould 178). Nonetheless, by the time of the real 60s hippies, the author explains how the Beatles came with their new wave in personifying a collective nonconformity ethic, which took the loneliness out the rebellion thus linked the hedonist wings and the activists of the counterculture through their songs. In recalling the postwar United Kingdom’s fascination with U.S.A, Gould provides such gems almost exactly as the Beatles would have known Cochran’s notable anthem “Twenty Flight Rock.”

Of course, Rock n Roll had managed to deal with several issues in the society; however, when the war broke out in the 1960s, rock became the voice of the youths in opposing the event. Protest music became their source of strength in championing their views and unifying voice in denouncing the Vietnam War and oppression. Artists like Bruce Springsteen was a dominant force in paving the way for a peace wanting and freethinking activists. The 70s was a decade that was full of narcissism and complacency, which gave rise to political, cultural, and social debates built during the era of King and Kennedy. Some issues like the sexual revolution, the Vietnam, and the civil rights belonged much to the 1970s as to the 1960s. After several songs that flopped, Springsteen penned down “Born to Run,” which became his first hit since it touched the lives of many working class Americans and was full of cultural references. In Dolan’s book, politics does not usually loom as great as Springsteen’s informer social conscience as social unrest instigated by racism. Dolan’s points out mini history lessons regarding Amadou Diallo shooting in New York provoked the artist to pen down the song “American Skin”. Also, Bruce Springsteen involvement in caring for his country especially the Vietnam War made him pen “Born in The USA”, which is a protest song against Vietnam War, which left many American soldier wives widows and children orphans as many soldiers were killed in the war. The state failed to take care of the veterans who came back to the country (Dolan 216). Dolan even notes that even Barack Obama made a joking remark to his wife that if he can not be the Bruce Springsteen, the next best thing that he would need is to become the president. Dolan opines that Obama thought like a rock star and particularly Bruce Springsteen. The social and political impacts of rock music can still be seen in our current society. The freethinking activists, who were once scrutinized by people, are the ones who have managed to change the social and political culture of our today’s American culture.

Despite the rise in popularity of Rock n Roll music, the genre suffered the lack of gender balance as women were still discriminated. In the 1960s, feminism pushed by feminist started its mission it empowering women in all sectors across the United States even though at a slower rate. Male figures from the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and the rest continued to top the charts with fewer females getting involved in the new type of music. Nonetheless, one lady, Janis Joplin managed to bridge the gap by getting involved in the mainstream music thus proving that females can do better too. In 1965, Joplin moved from her hometown Port Arthur in Texas where he used to perform at Beaumont, Houston to Supercharged Concert Halls San Francisco in 1966 (Friedman 54, 78). Her unique voice and style of performance managed to secure her a top stop in the rock industry. Friedman explains how Joplin managed to establish herself as the Queen of Rock by working extra hard to compete with her male counterparts. Joplin was the rallying voice of all the females and to generation, which lost itself in Joplin’s music and found itself in her word. However, in an articulate introduction in the biography, Friedman explains how Joplin emerged from her difficult childhood to a woman who was indeed ahead of her time as a musician and a performer. She became an outrageous rebel and an artist whose authenticity was incomparable to other females thus becoming to the majority as a symbol of triumph over misfortunes (Friedman 254). The autobiography explains the effort that Joplin put in her work to establish herself as the Queen of Rock despite being in a male dominated field and known for her obscene acts; generally, it would not be a surprise to see current and future artists using her as an inspiration behind their art.

Essay Topic 2

United States of America First Amendment according to the constitution protects the right of every citizen to freedom of expression and freedom of religion from the state's interference entirely. It prohibits any instituted laws, which impedes the religious free exercise, establishes a national religion, infringes upon the freedom of the press, abridges any person’s freedom of speech, interferes with people's freedom of meeting, or forbids people from actually petitioning a states grievances redress. The act was adopted in 1971 into the Bill of Rights. The United States Supreme Court usually interprets the extent of protection embodied under these rights by making them applicable to the whole federal government though it has only been expressed as only applicable to the Congress. What’s more, the court in the U.S. has interpreted the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause as protecting the rights, which are under the 1st Amendment from government’s interference ("First Amendment").

Rock n Roll was used as a way that the youths could use to express their views especially during the 70s decade, which was filled with many issues from gender inequality, racial discrimination, and Vietnam War. Artists created anthems that could be used to protest against vices in the society that the government employs, which they do not fit their concerns. For example, Bruce Springsteen work “Born in The USA” was used as a protest song against the Vietnam War and how the state treated veterans from the war once they come back home. He performed the song in his concerts thus being used by activists. Springsteen artistic expression is protected under the first amendment. Of course, the song was written in 1984 after the act was instituted. The act allows individuals to gather for lawful and peaceful purposes thus within this right is the right to belief and association. The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that the right to freedom of association is implicit in the 1st, 5th, and 14th amendment. This right of implicit is limited to association right for the first act purposes. However, when people gather to promote illegal acts, then the government has the right to prohibit people from such gatherings. The right to petition the state in providing grievances guarantees citizens of America the right to question the state to offer relief for a wrongdoing through other states action or litigation. This works with the right of association by allowing individuals to come together in the process of seeking change from the state ("First Amendment").

The Freedom of speech also allows every citizen to express themselves without government t interference. The U.S. Supreme Court requires the state to offer ample justification for the interference with the right to free speech especially in scenarios where the content of speech is being regulated. An individual cannot be found guilty of going against the law especially when he or she expresses his or her opinion regarding an issue that is a fact. Thus, Springsteen’s penning down “American Skin,” which addressed the shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York and “Born in the U.S” to express his opinion regarding the Vietnam War that was a truthful matter has no single legal liability ("First Amendment").

Janis Joplin obscene behavior and utterance in her work during the 1960s and 1970s, which made her stand out against other female rock stars stands to be a debate even in the court. The Supreme Court protects the rights of every citizen America freedom of speech. However, with the issue of obscenity, several considerations were put in place whereby adults are allowed to possess obscene materials within their homes but when children are involved is when a crime will have taken place since child pornography is illegal. The first amendment was instituted in 1984 thus did not apply to Joplin’s works; however, current artists are the ones who fall under the Act ("First Amendment").

Parodies refer to imitating someone styles of writing or singing with a deliberate exaggeration of his or her art for a comical effect. Since they often include strong-worded criticisms aimed to the artists, they are usually followed by frequent litigations over libel and copyright issues. Thus, Rock n Roll artists who carried out parodies before the act was instituted in 1984 cannot face any legal battle in court as opposed to current artists who are often taken to court over litigation issues ("First Amendment").

Plagiarism refers to taking ones piece of original work without giving them credit and later on passing them as your own. Under the First Amendment, this is illegal thus any artist who uses other artists work without his or her consent faces a legal crime of copyright infringement, which could make him or her settle the damages inflicted on the owner ("First Amendment"). The amendments freedom of speech offers limits to copyright. The rock stars are considered legends in our current society thus whoever tries to copyright their work without their consent or their kin’s suddenly commits a crime against originality, copyright, and intellectual property.

Works Cited

Guralnick, Peter. Last Train To Memphis. London, Abacus, 2015.

Dolan, Marc. Bruce Springsteen And The Promise Of Rock 'N' Roll. WW Norton; Updated Edition, 2013.

Friedman, Myra. Buried Alive. New York, Three River Press, 1992.

Gould, Jonathan. Can't Buy Me, Love. Three Rivers Press; Reprint Edition, 2008.

"First Amendment." LII / Legal Information Institute,

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