When I have a lot of time to myself, my mind wanders all over the known and unknown universe. I didn’t have to wander very far, however, to wind up reading the article titled “Rock and Roll” in Wikipedia. I actually had a purpose, as well. I was trying to understand why I have often felt that I really dislike the blues but I have always loved rock and roll. Of course, knowledgeable folks immediately let me know that rock and roll has roots in the blues. No question, some of the rock I love best has been blues sung just a bit differently.
Some people might say that it is just a matter of a white guy wanting to hear white guys sing. But then it is hard to explain Jimi Hendrix as one of my all time favorites.
Articles on the history of Rock and Roll have a hard time saying whether it started with black singers or white. Little Richard or Buddy Holly. Elvis or Chuck Berry. Hey, I listened to all those guys. I was born in 1950. Rock and Roll’s birth was virtually coincidental with my own. I know the roots may reach back to the days when it was black music or “race” music. I think it sprouted and grew based on the idea that it was time to stop thinking like that. Rock grew up and blurred color lines at the same time that I was being raised to strictly observe them. (see http://kentslife.blogspot.com/2005/10/do-i-look-like-racist-in-picture-below.html )
Rock blurred a bunch of other lines that had been such a big deal in our culture and my life (hair styles, clothing, proper and improper speech, legal vs. illegal drugs, licit and illicit sex).
A whole lot of the lines that had been drawn by the 1950’s were genuinely in need of not just being blurred, but erased. I came to a point in the late 60’s where I began to wonder whether lines ever need be drawn. Now it seems easy to show that lines are still a good thing. Pride vs. humility. Justice vs. Injustice. Love vs. Hate. Greed vs. Giving. Our vision is rarely clear enough to allow us to put the lines in just the right place, even in our own lives. It is harder still to draw those lines for others. That is why Jesus told us to take the plank out of our own eye before attempting to extract a speck from our neighbor’s eye. Nonetheless, it is a kindness to undergo radical surgery on the plank so that one might become humble and capable of helping to remove the speck.