The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

Depression
Julia Adams, Journalist • May 15, 2024

The Lost Genre of Rock and Roll

The Lost Genre of Rock and Roll
essence of genuine and true rock and roll appearsto be slipping away and many people think thegenre is already gone. As the years go on, thegenre continues to leave the early, rebellious, andtrue form and fades away into new genres. Hasrock and roll overstayed its welcome, or does thereneed to be a renewal of the once beloved genre?The history of Rock and Roll is a widelydebated subject and the topic of manycontroversial theories. In the late 1920s, thepopular genre of music called jazz music was sweeping the nation by storm. Jazz started inHarlem, New York and is the base genre of every popular genre. It was mainly performed byblack musicians with backgrounds of classical music. It used the same instruments as classicalinstruments, just in a swing pattern. The controversy begins with the birth of a man namedRobert Leroy Johnson.When Robert Johnson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi on or around May 8, 1911, hislife was set up for him by his family. His mother, Julia Dodds, had birthed ten children ahead ofhim – all with her sharecropper husband, Charles. But Robert was born out of wedlock; fatheredby a plantation worker named Noah Johnson. His family wanted him to work on the fields, all ofhis life, just like his ancestors before him. He wasn’t interested in farming though. After beingchased out of Mississippi by white landowners, a whole new world was opened up for Johnson.Here he learned things in school, played with other children, and most important of all, learnedabout music.At the young age of 19, Robert Johnson married one Virginia Travis. Sadly, just one yearafter their marriage, she died during the birth of their first child. Not long after, in 1931, Robertmarried his second wife, Colleta Craft. Sadly, she too would pass away too within a few years.These deaths shaped Johnson into the man he would grow up to be.One of the earliest accounts of Johnson as a musician comes from Delta bluespioneer Son House, who first encountered the young artist around 1930 in Robinsonville,Mississippi. House recalled that Johnson “blew a harmonica and he was pretty good with that,but he wanted to play guitar.” Johnson’s guitar skills, according to House, were less than stellar.In fact, the elder musician referred to his attempts as “such a racket you’d never heard! … ‘Getthat guitar away from that boy,’ people would say, ‘he’s running people crazy with it.’”After this, Johnson mysteriously disappeared for a little more than two years. When hewould eventually turn up in small clubs and bars in the deep south, his skill seemed to havemultiplied. People said this was the first they had ever seen these incredible skills. He would play

a small show, three or four songs at most, then disappear for another month or two, and repeat
this process until his untimely death in 1938.Those missing two years in his story are where the stories, while mostly rumors, start tocreep in. An old English concept of a crossroad, where men could freely meet with the devil toexchange worldly riches and skills, at the price of their soul. As evident in Johnsons 1937 hit,Crossroad blues, he had clearly gone to one, people claimed. Many started gossiping about thetruthfulness of Johnsons skill on the guitar. The way he played was more than the regular bluesmusician at the time. He played better. This made many people believe that in those two years,Robert Johnson, in exchange for unhuman like skill on the guitar, sold his soul to the devil.This man singlehandedly sparked what would become rock and roll for years to come andstarted the rebellion that so many people thought made up rock and roll. It wasn’t just the music;it was the lifestyle.The 50s and 60s polished Robert Johnsons work and make the genre what it is today.Artists like the Isley Brothers, Buddy Holly & His Comets, Brenda Lee, and obviously, ElvisPresley. Also, during this time arose the certain sub-genre of rock, soul music, mainly played insouthern and midwestern U.S. states. Artists such as the Supremes, Four Tops, Ray Charles, andAretha Franklin. These artists truly poured their heart and “soul” into the genre.Next came the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Many people claim this to bethe golden age of the genre. Lots of popular bands and artists came out of these decades andpopularized the genre, “Psychedelic rock”. These artists truly lived by the name. Artists duringthis time included The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix,Aerosmith, and Black Sabbath, just to name a few.The next large jump in music was the 1990s. The new styles grunge and punk started toshow up. These differed from other rock musicians because it seemed punk bands were outcasts,rouges, and they didn’t care what people thought of them. This shined new light and gave thegenre even more room to grow and progress. The biggest artists of this decades were Nirvana,Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Green Day, Descendants, The Smashing Pumpkins,Radiohead, and Sublime. These bands and artists were wild, unpredictable, and they were neverto scared to voice their opinions.Today, the genre of Rock has been reduced to a few small artists trying to keep the sparkburning of the once loved genre. Greta Van Fleet, an artist starting to make a name forthemselves is one of the only true rock bands alive right now. They popularized the genre ofPsychedelic rock and blues in their early years, and even took inspiration from Led Zeppelin. Butwith the release of their newest album Starcatcher, it is easy to tell that Greta Van Fleet is theirown genre and own style of rock.Some may argue that the ever growing “indie” wave of music is considered true rock.While it shares some of the same characteristics such as instruments, the music is highlydependent on vocals, while older rock is dependent on the instruments themselves. Though it ishard to deny the growth of indie music. Another positive about this style is that it is easier to play

and perform. This makes it the perfect choice for a small town or high-school band, as opposed
to regular rock and roll.Many popular artists have tried and failed at reviving the lost genre. Machine Gun Kelly,a controversial but undeniably talented artist has been the topic of debate for years. He started asa rapper but once that didn’t bring in the big bucks, he slowly transitioned into main-streampop/punk, drawing inspiration from artists like Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance. Thisgenre is highly hated upon because it doesn’t stay true to the old standard of punk which was andunderground genre with a certain lifestyle that came secondary to the music itself. Anotherrapper, Lil Yachty, came out with an album in 2022 titled Let’s Start Here, which sounds eerilysimilar to old psychedelic music from the 70s.It is an undeniably impressive journey that rock and roll has gone through. From itshumble blues beginnings in the 30s to the soul movement of the 50s and 60s, to the ever-popularpsychedelic movement of the 70s. In the 1990s, the poplar genre punk was introduced whichopened doors always thought to be closed. This has led to modern times where rock hasseemingly disappeared. Will the genre make a revival in years to come, or will it continue todecline in popularity? Only time will tell.

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About the Contributor
Tate Archibald
Tate Archibald, Journalist
My name is Tate Archibald, and this is my second year in journalism. I like to ski, mountain,bike, and rock climb. I am the drummer for the band, The Smog, and I like to hang out withfriends, and listen to music.