I was truly an Anglo-file back in the 60′s. When the Beatles hit our shores, there was no other sound I wanted to hear. However, there was a lot of great music coming out of the good ole USA!
The lyrics and music of the time were bound together with the Cold War, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights. Moreover, all of the music was just “out there.” There were no distinctions between styles like you have today with R & B, Hip Hop, Rap, AOR, MOR etc.
Folk music was quite popular with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, all unaffected musicians whose straightforward delivery of a repertoire that included traditional songs and new compositions after traditional models attracted a large, appreciative audience.
Soul music was driven by Motown a record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan,USA, on April 14, 1960 Motown, James Brown, the Impressions, Stax/Volt, a record label that was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and blues recordings and Atlantic Records a powerhouse label featuring some of the best music, period!
The East Coast, centered around the Brill Building, (built 1931), an office building located at 1619 Broadway in the New York City just north of Times Square. The Brill Building (named after the Brill Brothers, who owned a clothing store on the street level and who later bought the entire building from its developer, A.E. Lefcourt) was intended as a financial office space for brokers and bankers. In the midst of the Depression, the timing couldn’t have been worse, and the owners resorted to renting space to music publishers, as there were few other takers. It became a center of activity for the popular music industry, especially music publishing and songwriting. Once songs had been published, the publishers sent song pluggers to the popular white bands and radio stations. These song pluggers would sing and/or play the song for the band leaders to encourage bands to play their music. Brill Building songs were constantly at the top of the Hit Parade and played by the leading bands of the day. The Brill Building’s name has been widely adopted as a shorthand term for a broad and influential stream of American mainstream popular song (strongly influenced by Latin music and rhythm and blues) which enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Many significant American and international publishing companies, music agencies and recording labels were based in New York, and although these ventures were naturally spread across many locations, the Brill Building was regarded as probably the most prestigious address in New York for music business professionals. Many of the best works in this diverse category were written by a loosely affiliated group of songwriter-producer teams — mostly duos — that enjoyed immense success and who collectively wrote some of the biggest hits of the period. Many in this group were close friends, as well as being creative and business associates — and both individually and as a duo, they often worked with each other and with other writers in a wide variety of combinations. One of the finest songwriters of the time was the late Ellie Greenwich. Here are just a few of her many hits:
Then came the British Invasion! These bands had been listening to all of the great American music and brought it back to our shores in a new way.
At that point it became obvious that something new was about to happen. Tune in next week and we will begin to look at the “Post Beatle” reaction in America.
Until then, have a Happy and Healthy New Year and I look forward to posting in 2010!