Is Rock and Roll Here to Stay?
Danny and the Juniors once insisted in song that rock-and-roll was here to stay, it would never die, that it was meant to be that way, though they didn't know why. After folk rock, mellow rock, disco, punk rock, and new wave, is there anything today that can really be called rock-and-roll? Twenty-five years after Danny's brash prophecy, does even a tenuous connection exist between Bill Haley and the Comets and the B-52s?
People like the music they like, generally the songs and sounds they grew up with. My parents and their peers are big-band fans. After about five minutes of Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis blasting out of the family car radio, my mother would exclaim in desperation, ''Shut that vile noise off!'' If she could have understood some of the words she would have issued her ultimatum much sooner.
Today the shoe is on the other foot, for me anyway. At parties where younger heads prevail, my requests for a change of pace from the Killer B's or Def Leppard (endangered groups, I hope) inevitably fall on uncomprehending ears. Dion and the Belmonts? The Drifters? The Beach Boys? No one's interested.
Sulking, I then wander toward the pile of albums by the stereo, to search (against staggering odds) for something familiar. On top is Def Leppard (that phonetic feline again), followed by The Dregs (so soon?), The Cretons (at least they're honest), Haircut One Hundred (your guess is as good as mine), and on and on. Some of the names have a simplicity that you have to admire: The Cars, Bread , Brick, Air Supply, The Police. What a great timesaving idea, naming your rock group after the first thing that comes into your line of vision. But my favorite ensemble is Doug and the Slugs and their hit album ''Music for the Hard of Thinking.'' I almost give that platter a spin.
After a time, however, I throw in the towel and meander toward the fridge, back through the throng that is hopping up and down as if the flooring were plutonium rather than linoleum. Suddenly a frenzied young dancer screams, ''Put on the Bow Wow Wow.'' In another second I would have hollered back, ''Don't make fun of the poor dog''; but then the music stops and I realize he must be referring to another singing group. Could this Bow Wow Wow hail from New Haven? An offshoot of the Whiffenpoofs, perhaps?
I am sadly mistaken. The Bow Wow Wow lives up to its title in the most literal fashion imaginable. I make plans to stick them in a closet with Def Leppard.
On my way home, in the quiet of my car, I grow increasingly ashamed of myself. Who do I think I am? The Rex Reed of rock-and-roll? What was the point of rock-and-roll if it didn't drive older folks right up the wall? If our parents had said to us, ''Mommy and Daddy-o dig Elvis the most,'' he probably would have been as popular as the Edsel.
Rock-and-roll may be here to stay, but Danny and the Juniors are not. Danny passed away this year. I wonder what he would have thought of today's music. I know what the late Bill Haley would have said: ''See you later, alligator.''