.....Lest we forget........
My concentration is pulled away from writing when one of those infamous info-mercials grabs my attention. I don't know if this one is by K-Tel or Time-Life recordings, but it is a series of "oldies" that you can buy. Early rock and roll, blues and a string of 'boy' and 'girl' groups, some a capella, others with that big Phil Spector 'wall of sound', Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and many other black singers and performers.
What caught my ear and jarred my nerves was hearing - faintly in the background - one of those performers who is still alive today..... and the script went something like "remember those wonderful, carefree days with its music you just had to dance to, sock hops and good clean fun? Remember those simple, memorable melodies and close-knit harmonies? Oh, I have many fond memories of those days".
The script she was prompted from could hardly have been written by this now middle-aged woman who still looked pretty 'hip'. Perhaps there were days when her journeys were wonderful and the whirlwind of fame for a 'colored girl' must have been pretty heady stuff.
Yet, lest we forget, those were NOT the 'good ole, carefree, simple times". The background themes of the times were addressed in a much more palatable manner in the initial film Hairspray (directed by John Waters) with Sonny Bono, Divine, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Debbie (Blondie) Harry, and famous vocalist Ruth Brown [who could have taught everyone the darker, hidden side of segregation which she had, during her own singing career been subjected to]. As you probably know that film made the transition to Broadway and is now being re-made.
I bring up this film becase the story line touches on some of the stigmas, integration, stereotypes, racism and discrimination of the day. Tracy Turnblad, a significantly obese young girl yearns to be on the local dance TV show out of Baltimore. She has learned some of her dance moves from her black friends. From there on in, you have to see what happens yourself.
Documentaries from that day show a far more sinister side: the white only seating, bathrooms, water fountains, diners. Testaments of entertainers who had to walk through the servants entrance to entertain white people. Unscrupulous record producers and companies who wrote contracts which denied appropriate compensation and royalty rights to black performers who were not counselled to read the fine print. individuals of many groups who had giantic "hits" in the 1950's have since died in poverty as a consequence of these dreadful practices.
Wonderful musicians, lyricists, performers went through a great deal behind the scenes before civil rights legislation was passed and enforced. Let's remember their work - and appreciate what they went through to bring it to us.
It is important for us to recall accurate history faithfully so that we may learn from it and it does not repeat itself under another name for another group of people.