After attending a doo-wop concert featuring artists of the 50’s and 60’s. I was reminded of a caller to Michael Savage's radio show who took issue with his playing of some classic “songs of the 50s” because he thought they represented an era of repression and segregation.
I was a student at the High School of Music and Art in the late 50s. Each morning as I entered the auditorium to wait for classes to begin, I could here the strains of doo-wop in every corner. It was here that the “new sounds” were created and experimented with by students both black and white.
One of my classmates wrote several hits for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and had a successful career of his own. It was during that era that the musical creativity of many blacks was recognized, rewarded and provided myriad opportunities for both blacks and whites.
The doo-wop sounds couldn’t be categorized or easily identified as “black” or “white”. It was poetry celebrating the joys of love and life accompanied by lyrical melodies and sung by harmonious voices full of hope and aspirations.
By contrast, the pop culture of today features “rap music”, an oxymoron by any standards, which almost exclusively celebrates the “black” experience and is often full of expressions of hate and depictions of violence, not to mention dirty words.
If anything can be said about the music of the 50s, it is that it did not oppress but offered freedom of expression, created opportunities, and most importantly, uplifted and celebrated the simple joys of life that bind us together as human beings.
If author William Congreve’s proclamation that “music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak” is correct, then it would behoove us all to attend more doo-wop concerts.