and 50’s, this music had roots. In the songs of HanknWilliams, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, we arenskipping over a hundred years of commercialization andnreturning to the Anglo-Celtic roots of American music, tonthe violence and authenticity of the old Border ballads, to anconfrontation of real life — take it or leave it—as it is livednby passionate men and women who are sorry for their sinsnbut will not lie to you about them.nIt is no coincidence that the most depraved of the earlynrock and rollers, Jerry Lee (“the Killer”), with his countlessnwives, including one who died under mysterious circumstances,nand the transvestite/bisexual Little Richard Penniman,nhave both gone on periodic religious binges.nCinNothing gold can stay” and nothing authentic cannsurvive commercialization. Commercial pop songsncontinued to do well throughout the 50’s and 60’s. In 1956,nElvis had shared the spotlight with Gogi Grant (“ThenWayward Wind”), Kay Starr (“Rock and Roll Waltz”!), andnPerry Como (“Hot Diggity”). In 1957 Elvis, Sonny James,nBuddy Knox, Buddy Holly, and Sam Gooke all reachednnumber one, but so did Andy Williams and Tab Hunter,nand in the top ten there were still such veteran pop stars asnJimmy Dorsey, Patti Paige, the Hilltoppers, the AmesnBrothers, Teresa Brewer, Tony Bennett, and Frankie Laine.nBy 1958 —the year of “At the Hop,” “It’s Only MakenBelieve,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Sweet Little Sixteen”n— they still had to compete with Perez Prado, Perry Como,nAndy Williams, and Billy Vaughan, among the many popnartists who made it into the top five. And even in 1966, thentop hits of the year were the Monkees’ soft-rock, “I’m anBeliever,” the imitation Mariachi “Spanish Flea,” and thenpseudo-vaudeville “Winchester Cathedral.”nUnder the circumstances, it was hardly difficult for TinnPan Alley to make a comeback in the guise of rock and roll.nMany songwriters, notably the team of Jerry Leiber andnMike StoUer, were just as happy working with Peggy Lee asnwith Elvis. The Brill Building on Broadway became homento a song factory in the early 60’s that included suchnassembly line writers as Carole King, Barry Mann, CynthianWeill, and Neil Sedaka. Sedaka became a singing star in hisnown right in the early 60’s, although his career was cut shortnby the British Invasion.nIn a way, the commercialization of rock was inevitable.nThe music industry, as much as the car business, dependsnupon quantity, minimum standards, and brand identity.nHow could you get that from irresponsible rednecks andnghetto blacks? Some rock and rollers were wise enough tonjoin the enemy: Elvis put himself in the hands of Col. TomnParker and became rich making sentimental movies andnsinging saccharine ballads with strings. Even Buddy Hollynwas turning pop in the year before his death — he dumpednthe Crickets and started recording with an orchestra.nThe best of the white musicians went back to countrynmusic, a process that is still going on today, but was initiatednby Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Brenda Lee. Thenchoice, then and now, was between Nashville and NewnYork. In a recent interview, Phil Everiy summed up thenconflict: “New York was a joke to us. . . . It was a joke to allnof rock. Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, EddienCochran, you name them; they were all country, born andnbred. Tin Pan Alley was jive and we knew it.”nIn retrospect, 1958 was the beginning of the end. InnDecember of that year, a doleful piece of sentimentalityntided “To Know Him Is to Love Him” hit number one. Thensong was written by Phil Spector, who took the title from hisnsuicide father’s tombstone and formed a group called thenTeddybears to record it. In the years to come, Spector wouldnmake and unmake groups, release records under the wrongnartists’ names, and swamp studios with rhythm players whilenhe overdubbed, cut, and pasted the vocal tracks until he hadncreated the massive “wall of sound” he was looking for.nWhile he claimed to be the pop music Wagner, Phil Spectornis to rock and roll what Ray Kroc was to restaurants.nThe original rock era was a brief flicker of rebellionnagainst security, coinciding with the rise of the TV Western.nWhat the real Jerry Lee and Elvis shared with the TVncowboys was not only restlessness and a willingness to takenrisks, both represented an old-fashioned form of Americannpatriotism that goes back to the Whiskey Rebellion: mennwho were loyal to their country, even while they werensuspicious of authority. So-called scholars who look back onnthe Western, however, see only the evils of bigotry. Thenauthor of Who Shot the Sheriff!’ characterizes the TVnWestern as a compound of “sexism, racism, violence,nimperialism, and historical distortion” — the qualities attributednto America by liberal historians.nConservatives worry over whethernbusinessmen are selhng the rope by gettingninvolved in pop culture. The truth of thenmatter is the other way around: rock musicnis not corrupting business, but business andncommercialization have always corruptednrock and roll.nEven as rock lapsed back into pop, the networks turnednthe Western into soap operas like Bonanza and The BignValley. By 1960, the fires had gone out of rock and roll.nEven before going into the Army, Elvis had sold out tonHollywood; Jerry Lee Lewis was in disgrace, when it camenout that he had probably committed both bigamy and incestnby marrying his cousin; Buddy Holly and Richie Valensnwere dead in the Clear Lake plane crash that is one of thenfew enduring legends of postwar history.nFor nearly five years, the music business would bendominated by the new Tin Pan Alley in the Brill Building,nand by Phil Spector, whom friends describe as very liberalneven in high school, and by arguably the worst influence onnAmerican popular taste since Irving Berlin, Dick Clark. Itnwas Clark who gave the American Wagner his first bignbreak.nWhen the Beatles and the Stones arrived in 1964, theynrepresented a return to a more authentic Anglo-nCeltic music — traditional songs as well as the new songsnwritten by the musicians themselves. It is simply no accidentnthat the only real rock and roll produced outside of NorthnAmerica comes from our cousins in Britain and Australia.nnnAUGUST 1989/11n