Friday, March 25, 2016

Re/Again: The Twist

purchase [The Twist]
or maybe [Hank Ballard's version]

Last post I referenced my age. There's a lot good in age: I more or less remember the birth of mainstream rock: we used to watch American Bandstand and its ilk -the precursors to American Idol? Is the "intro" the pre-cursor to Rap?

Classic/elemental in my mind to the definition of rock music is Chubby Checker's "The Twist". You would probably agree. While there is no "Re/Again" in the title, the timeless lyrics most certainly include " ... let's twist again... like we did last summer".

Actually, I must admit that I came across this song as a Re/Again selection via a website that shares/discusses song facts - including re-issues ( And there, the point is made that Chubby Checker's "classic" is actually a re-issue of a Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' 1959 song - which caught on in the Baltimore area, but had to wait for Chubby Checker's release to hit the bigtime. It gets stranger yet: Lawson Smith (aka Abdul Bin-Asad) lays down a bunch of claims about the origins of the song and that Hank Ballard usurped some of the credits. Whatever. Yet, what does seem clear to me is that a bunch of (white) businessmen took advantage of some rather naïve African-American musicians to produce/commercialize rock music as we know it.

Usurped or not, the song we all know as "The Twist" was re-worked several times, certainly between the time Chubby Checker made it a hit and apparently even before the time the Midnighters released their version a few years before.

What is indisputable is that they all helped shape what we call rock and roll: the 4/4 beat and the I-IV-V progression.

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