May 17, 1957
The other day, as I listened to a local radio station, I heard a song entitled “School Dats.” A better title might have been “Reform School Daze.”
This little rock-‘n-roll ditty paints school as drudgery from the time the candidate for the “Blackboard Jungle” gets up in the morning until the time he “lays down his burden” when the dismissal bell rings. It seems the moral of this song is summed up in the final refrain- “long live rock ‘n roll.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no fanatic. I think anyone who knows me will vouch for that. But I do think songs with lyrics like this are detrimental to our society.
The popular music of the United States is an old and established tradition among other countries of the world. For many years the people of Europe have been great fans of American popular music. I have tried to think that American popular music paints a picture of the people of the United States to the rest of the world.
Right now I’m fed up with this music that paints a picture of the feelings of a minority group of our society. I hope that my children never feel school is a drag and only tolerate it because they can go down to the corner drug store and listen to the stuff which I loosely refer to as music.
I know I never thought school was a drudgery and I never looked forward to hearing this bop on rock-‘n-roll or rhythm and blues or whatever you prefer to call it.
Neither am I a long hair, friend who would subject everyone to Bach or Beethoven, though they certainly have their merits.
All I want to know is what happened to the songs like Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hammerstein and others used to write? Have we become so blinded by the dollars that we have overlooked beauty?
Don’t get me wrong. There are still a few pretty, good, clean songs coming, from some tune-smiths pens. Some will say, “There have always been some silly bad songs around.”
I’ll admit that, but I defy anyone to say that there have ever been so many bad songs suggesting so much to so many.
I hope others feel the same way I do. If you do please let me know by writing to me in care of the Optimist. If you want to take the other side, I’d like to hear that too.
Editor’s Note: This letter was re-published in the October 24, 2003 edition of the Optimist.