"Preface – The Countdown Survey" (from Top Ten - A True Life Rock and Roll Adventure)
According to R. Meltzer, the first Top Ten appeared in the pages of Ring magazine, ranking the boxing contenders. To most of us, however, it is inextricably associated with the Hit Parade of Rock and Roll as born in the ‘50s, the cavalcade of popular music. That sublime suspense, waiting each week to find out which songs had moved up or down the chart.
Although the radio was always the prime source of this activity, there was a specialness to the video version as featured on American Bandstand, where the results were displayed on a deluxe decorated easel board which mysteriously had the chart-topping tune titles hidden by little sliding panels. At the appropriate moment, Dick Clark would reveal to us ardent and anxious fans across the nation, one by one, each of our fave-rave songs for that week by slipping out the concealing panels. Hoaky, perhaps, but despite its obvious theatricality, it was a highly effective and elevating process. Ah, the anticipation and revelation as we rooted for our particular favorites to move up. It was a full ritual of the Rock and Roll experience.
So, then, in the same archetypal manner of counting down we are herein treated to ten chapters of one American boy’s particular life lived with Rock and Roll; the story of a constant spirit in a changing world; the story of a dream born in youth and lived out in adulthood; the story of the passion that is Rock and Roll, with the power to direct a life; the story of a changing relationship with the music that was born at the same time as he: living, growing up, and growing old with Rock and Roll.
It is a story of perseverance and of dreams that really do come true.
It is more, though… a tale interwoven with the fabric of its time, those tumultuous and legendary years roughly between 1956 and 1978, when we lived an innocence 99 44/100% pure as Ivory Snow, an involvement stronger than dirt, and a magic more real than a movie.
Like a mighty mixpot, time and fate had come together; in the explosion of technology, the booming economy of the post war years, and the greening of the baby boom generation; giving birth to the era of mass culture, the democratic popularization of all forms of art and entertainment by the new electronic mass media. It was radio, of course, but moreso the coming of 45s and 33 1/3 LPs, and their accompanying Hi-Fi’s, jukeboxes, and later, stereos. And more sinisterly there was that new controversial contraption called Television – (“God only knows how T.V. will warp these young minds!”) this was the first generation to truly be living in the future.
…And popular music, that ever-changing barometer of current styles and attitudes, it met the modern age by giving birth to the bastard son of white/pop Country and Western music, with black gospel and rhythm and blues – the child called Rock and Roll; an electronic baby which was to mirror and illuminate its age, more clearly and completely than any artistic expression ever had before…
This, then, is a true life Rock and Roll adventure, the Top Ten countdown survey of a life lived with and lived in the music.
Play it loud!
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