music

Are You Letting the World Hear YOUR Rock and Roll Music?

If you look up the word ‘influence’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Chuck Berry.

While he did not ‘invent’ rock and roll, he most definitely stomped through the music of the early-to-mid 50s with both feet, leaving his prints in the fertile wet cement of rock’s early days.

Drawing on the raw energy of the blues and the rhythmic swing of the big bands, (replacing the soaring horn section riffs with the strings of his guitar), Berry took what he heard around him and ‘brought it somewhere else’.

In the process, he became the man who launched a thousand bands and millions of fans.  

ChuckBerry

You’ve heard of the Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, right?

You probably wouldn’t have, if Chuck Berry hadn’t plugged in and let it rip.

His style, his lyrics, his duck walk and his attitude all set him apart and inspired thousands of guitar players, the most successful of whom took his music and ‘brought it somewhere else’…just as he had with his influences.

If this was an article designed to simply praise this artist for his achievements, it could go on forever.

Instead, I will ask these simple questions:

Who were your influences?

What have they inspired you to do/create/share with the world?

How have you ‘brought it somewhere else’ with your own voice and style?

I hope you know your song and sing it to the world every day, just because someone needs to hear it…and because you love to sing it.

Will you make a difference?

You never can tell.

Sing and play anyway.

Hail, hail, rock and roll.

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The Beatles Nailed It (in the Third Verse)!

At the dawn of the Summer of Love (June 1967), The Beatles appeared on ‘Our World’ before a televised audience of 400 million people in 25 countries to share their new song ‘All You Need is Love’.

To some it was a hippie anthem, to others a staunch protest against the war raging in Vietnam.

Although I would not be born for another eight months (I was a tiny bun in the oven at this point), that song has always been special. My dear radio friend Lisa Garvey once shared with me her love of a line from the 3rdverse:

“Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is love.”

Every time the song comes on the radio, I wait for that line…and it makes me smile.

No matter how our lives are going, we can share love. We don’t even have to call it love. Some people aren’t cool with using that word.

We can be kind, thoughtful, caring, generous…or we can just say “for that one moment, I gave a crap”.

During a recent audition on ‘The Voice’, a young man shared his story. He’d been a first-year student at Berklee College of Music…until his father chose to stop funding his education. What did he do? He hit the streets with his guitar and a sign saying that he needed to pay for college. One day, a producer for The Voice happened to be walking down that street, heard him, and suggested he try out for the show. While he did not ultimately turn a chair, ushering an early exit from the competition, he got some great advice from the stars of the show.

Some people will see this as failure. To me, it is a huge success. This young man just got to share his story, and his voice, with a national audience.

“Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”

Last night, I got to help a good friend by sharing one of my presentations at the Public Speaking class he teaches at a local community college. This particular campus is across the street from the building which once housed the radio station at which I launched my career in the Fall of 1992. It’s a run-down building in a run-down area. There are a lot of people and businesses struggling here. Every time I see that building, I remember that a conversation with a DJ (Cindy Brooks, I still love you for this) from my home town who ‘suggested’ I reach out to her cousin at that radio station to see if she needed an intern.

Apparently I was ‘meant to be’ there. That suggestion led to a decade long career in radio. Thank you, Cindy.

As I slowed to a stop at the red light in the darkness near that old radio building last night, a young man approached me, asking for a couple dollars so he could get a burger.

I love to give, I truly do…but there are too many stories of scammers out there. I apologized, telling him that I did not have any cash, and wished him the best. He offered a kind thank and moved on to the car behind me.

Knowing there is a McDonald’s on the next block, I hoped that it was truly a meal that he needed as I hit the drive through to supersize a simple gift. Five minutes later I circled the block, and didn’t see him. In case he was tucked around the corner, I pulled over. A shadowy figure rose from the sidewalk. It was him, trying to stay warm.

“Hey man, I’m sorry I didn’t have any cash…would a couple burgers, fries and a soda help?”

“Seriously? Thank you brother, thank you.”

He held out his hand.

“My name’s JD. Bless you man, bless you.”

Taking his hand, I replied “My name is Steve. Please take care of yourself. Stay warm tonight, okay?”

My light was green and, JD was already sitting on the cold concrete, hungrily devouring his meal.

Could JD have tossed the food, saying he just wanted money? Yup.

Could he have robbed me? Yes, there was nobody else around.

Could he have just been a good person whose life had fallen apart, who just needed to know that someone cared? That’s the answer I’m going with.

“Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy.”

The Beatles nailed it, right there in the third verse.

Yes they did.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.