Unit 2

American Bandstand: Music and Popular Culture

The title of this unit comes from a popular television music and dance show for teens that began airing in the 1950s and was hosted for decades by Dick Clark (here’s an early example, showing its very young and white demographic). In this unit we explore American pop culture in the 1950s, especially teen music and early rock ‘n’ roll, television, the Beats, and modern art.

Mon 9/25 The Age of Television. Reading: Dunar Ch 8, pp. 232-249 only

Some links we will view in class (no need to screen them beforehand):
Milton Berle, an early 1949 show
Camel News Caravan nightly newscast from 1952
Murrow on McCarthy, March 1954
Queen for a Day
Mickey Mouse Club – original cast
Twenty One (this is the episode with Herbert Stemple and Charles Van Doren that Dunar talks about on p. 249)
See the USA with Dinah Shore
Brylcreem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6F4GtyRfto
Lucky Strike https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUYsAgcPtqU
Twinkies on Howdy Doody https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyfCxrKW3XY
Spic & Span https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrOeRAPJazY

Wed 9/27 School of Rock/ The King. Reading: Dunar Ch 9, pp. 265-277 and Halberstam Ch 31a (posted on Blackboard)

Jimmy Preston “Rock This Joint” 1949
Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats “Rocket 88” (1951)
Alan Freed, Cleveland DJ “Moondog” Saturday Night Rock and Roll Party from 1953

3 Versions of One Song
Blues Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog
Freddie Bell & the Bellboys (1955)
Elvis’s version (1956) on the Milton Berle Show

In the Movies
Blackboard Jungle trailer (1955)
Rock Around the Clock trailer (1956)

On Ed Sullivan
Don’t be Cruel
Ready Teddy
Hound Dog*
and on Milton Berle, Heartbreak Hotel
And in the movies
Jailhouse Rock, 1957
In a duet with Frank Sinatra, prob 1960

* originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton

Fri 9/29 Inventing the DJ / Song Workshop. Bring laptops to class; headphones would also be useful if you have them.

An intro to Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry’s Maybellene (1955)
Birth of Rock & Roll
NME’s Best 100 Songs of the 1950s
Exhibit A in white folks claiming credit for black artistry: Back to the Future
Side-by-Side Song Covers (use #1-3 only)

A Couple of Song Analysis Tutorials
American Pie (1971)
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah
and a cartoon

Billboard Charts
Billboard Magazine Archive here and here

Mon 10/2 The Beats. Reading: Dunar Ch 9. pp. 257-265 + “Beats: Intro” (on Blackboard)
… in Paris

Wed 10/4 Modern Art. Visit this website (Rebels: Poets and Painters of the 1950s, from the National Portrait Gallery) and read both columns + also read Penick “Design” (on Blackboard)

Fri 10/6 Song Sharing Day. Come prepared to share/discuss your findings from the H-Lab #2 due in class this day.