Week 2: Carl Perkins (#99)

This week’s artist is Carl Perkins. You may never have heard of him, but without doubt you have heard his songs and his influence on the evolution of rock & roll.  (Blue Suede Shoes?  Move over, Elvis… that was Carl Perkins’ song, though Elvis rode it to fame.) He’s wrapped up in the sounds of Elvis, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, to name a few.

It’s hard to hear fifties rock and not be aware of where it came from and where it went.  He grew up soaking in the sounds of Gospel music at church and in the fields, where he and his sharecropping family picked cotton alongside African-American field workers.  He learned blues guitar from John Westerbrook, who taught him how to play and how to feel the music.  He took the old I-IV-V chord progression and made it something new, his own.  That’s the sound we hear from the big names of the day. (Check this out – all-stars playing together like kids, so joyful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_T8mRnqCwE&list=RDEMFHaU2rmS26ELemBafRsCMA&index=4)

You can read Tom Petty’s reflections on Carl Perkins, the man and the music:  https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/100-greatest-artists-147446/carl-perkins-2-86720/

If you’ve never heard music like this before, what does it remind you of?  Is there contemporary popular music that holds these sounds?  What’s the same? What’s different?

If this is music you grew up with, or of which you’re an enthusiast, what bubbled up for you?  Do you have a vivid sense memory?  How does the music hold up over time?

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