Labor Day has come and gone. For many people I know, this is really New Year’s Day. The summer is a wind-down from teaching and the campus is quiet; there are even available parking spaces. Then, all of a sudden, the place is full of people, mostly milling about in dazed confusion.
I have begun looking at a new topic along Highway 20. The topic I just finished for my next volume is about Rockefeller and the creation of national companies in the United States. The first Rockefeller oil refinery was on the Cuyahoga River, just a couple miles upstream from Lake Erie. So, now I’m going downstream to the lakefront and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Now what does this place have to tell us about Yankees?
Well, if you have read some of my book, you’d have seen that Yankees were all about democratizing things, products, communication, transportation and the like. Go down-market to where the people are. I use a quip that I forget the origin of, that goes like this. “One day in 1937, Adolf Hitler called together the German auto manufacturers and told them he wanted a car for the people (‘volkswagen’) to be designed and made. When President Roosevelt heard about this meeting, he called the American auto manufacturers together and urged them to do likewise. Half of this statement is true and half false. Which is false?“
Back to rock and roll. There was no way I’d pass the Museum by. I could have written Yankee stories about lot of topics from Boston west that I have skipped for lack of space and time, but not this one. If you think about it, rock and roll emerged in the 1950s out of a stew of different genres like rhythm and blues, jazz, folk and the like. It was the next iteration of popular music. So, I’m looking into the history of American popular music to trace it from its origins to say 1970 or so.
Dig, dig—off I go.