2nd Class Results! Which 1956 Song is in the Hall of Songs?

After our second round of voting, we have a new song in the Hall of Songs? Which one got in?

Inductee No. 2 is “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. Congratulations!

And here are the full results:

Heartbreak Hotel / Elvis Presley – 67.74%

Continuing to the next round of voting

Don’t Be Cruel / Elvis Presley – 61.29% (2nd round)
Hound Dog / Elvis Presley – 56.45% (2nd round)
Roll Over Beethoven / Chuck Berry – 51.61% (2nd round)
I Walk the Line / Johnny Cash – 50% (2nd round)
Blueberry Hill / Fats Domino – 48.38% (2nd round)
The Great Pretender / The Platters – 43.54% (3rd round)
That’s All Right / Elvis Presley – 41.93% (3rd round)
Tutti Frutti / Little Richard – 41.93% (3rd round)
Maybellene / Chuck Berry – 41.93% (3rd round)
Your Cheatin’ Heart / Hank Williams – 40.32% (3rd round)
Ain’t That a Shame / Fats Domino – 40.32% (3rd round)
Blue Suede Shoes / Carl Perkins – 38.70% (2nd round)
In the Still of the Night / The Five Satins – 35.48% (2nd round)

Eliminated from the ballot

Shake, Rattle and Roll / Big Joe Turner – 33.87%
Long Tall Sally / Little Richard – 24.19%
I Put a Spell on You – ‘Screamin’ Jay’ Hawkins – 22.58%
Why Do Fools Fall in Love – Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers – 20.96%
Earth Angel – The Penguins – 17.74%
Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes – 17.74%
Hey, Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams – 14.51%
Hound Dog – Big Mama Thornton – 14.51%
Be-Bop-a-Lula – Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps – 14.51%
Cold, Cold Heart – Hank Williams – 12.90%
Mess Around – Ray Charles – 12.90%
Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley – 12.90%
Sh’Boom – The Chords – 11.29%
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man – Muddy Waters – 11.29%
Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters – 11.29%
How High the Moon – Les Paul and Mary Ford – 3.22%

1956: Our Nominees for the Hall of Songs

For the first time, a year produces a full slate of 12 nominees for the Hall of Songs. Some of these are among the more ubiquitous tunes of the 1950s.

Of course, 1956 is when Elvis Presley becomes a massive star, the first star of the rock ‘n’ roll era. He registers five No. 1 hits this year, among them “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.” The third of those turns Elvis into a national talking point, his gyrations and sexualized image considered a threat by prudish Americans.

But it wasn’t just Elvis. Rock ‘n’ roll itself was considered a threat to those who claimed to be in great moral standing, and reactions from those folks throughout 1956 demonstrated a need to control the direction of the country. It’s the year “In God we Trust” becomes a national motto, the year when God is inserted in the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Will these moves defeat a style of music giving us such gems as “Long Tall Sally” and “Roll Over Beethoven”?

That’s 1956. Songs that define early rock ‘n’ roll in a climate of change. In the middle is Elvis, the eye of a hurricane who seemingly can’t be stopped.

Our nominees are below. Listen to our newest episode and vote (scroll down on this page) for up to 10 songs to win induction in the Hall of Songs.

Our 1956 nominees:

  • “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” as performed by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
    • Written by Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant; recorded November 1955; released January 1956
  • “Heartbreak Hotel” as performed by Elvis Presley
    • Written by Mae Boren Axton, Thomas Durden and Elvis Presley; recorded January 1956; released January 1956
  • “Blue Suede Shoes” as performed by Carl Perkins
    • Written by Carl Perkins; recorded December 1955; released February 1956
  • “Long Tall Sally” as performed by Little Richard
    • Written by Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell and Richard Penniman; recorded February 1956; released March 1956
  • “In the Still of the Night” as performed by The Five Satins
    • Written by Fred Parris; recorded February 1956; released spring 1956
  • “I Walk the Line” as performed by Johnny Cash
    • Written by Johnny Cash; recorded April 1956; released May 1956
  • “Roll Over Beethoven” as performed by Chuck Berry
    • Written by Chuck Berry; recorded April 1956; released May 1956
  • “Be-Bop-a-Lula” as performed by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
    • Written by Gene Vincent, Donald Graves and Bill Davis; recorded May 1956; released June 1956
  • “Don’t Be Cruel” as performed by Elvis Presley
    • Written by Otis Blackwell; recorded July 1956; released July 1956
  • “Hound Dog” as performed by Elvis Presley
    • Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; recorded July 1956; released July 1956
  • “Blueberry Hill” as performed by Fats Domino
    • Written by Vincent Rose, Larry Stock and Al Lewis; recorded summer 1956; released September 1956
  • “I Put a Spell on You” as performed by “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins
    • Written by Jalacy Hawkins and Herb Slotkin; recorded September 1956; released November 1956

Listen to the full episode to learn more about these songs. Then, vote for the songs you think should be inducted in the Hall of Songs. Scroll down or click here. Finally, come back on May 2, 2021, for our discussion on 1957.

1st Class Results! Which 1955 Song Is in the Hall of Songs?

After our first round of voting, we’re proud to announce our first inductee of the Hall of Songs!

Congratulations to “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets!

Here are the full results of the first round of voting:

  1. Rock Around the Clock / Bill Haley & His Comets – 67.56%

Continuing to second round of voting

  1. Tutti Frutti / Little Richard – 54.05%
  2. Shake, Rattle and Roll / Big Joe Turner – 48.64%
  3. Your Cheatin’ Heart / Hank Williams – 40.54%
  4. Mr. Sandman / The Chordettes – 40.54%
  5. The Great Pretender / The Platters – 40.54%
  6. Ain’t That a Shame / Fats Domino – 37.83%
  7. Sh’Boom / The Chords – 35.13%
  8. Earth Angel / The Penguins – 35.13%
  9. Maybellene / Chuck Berry – 32.43%
  10. Hey, Good Lookin’ / Hank Williams – 27.02%
  11. That’s All Right / Elvis Presley – 27.02%
  12. Hound Dog / Big Mama Thornton – 24.32%
  13. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man / Muddy Waters – 24.32%
  14. Bo Diddley / Bo Diddley – 24.32%
  15. Cold, Cold Heart / Hank Williams – 18.91%
  16. How High the Moon / Les Paul and Mary Ford – 18.91%
  17. Mess Around / Ray Charles – 18.91%
  18. Mannish Boy / Muddy Waters – 16.21%

Eliminated from the ballot

  • Rocket 88 / Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats – 10.81%
  • Lawdy Miss Clawdy / Lloyd Price – 10.81%
  • Dust My Broom / Elmore James – 8.10%
  • It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels – 8.10%
  • Crazy Man, Crazy / Bill Haley & His Comets – 8.10%
  • I’m a Man / Bo Diddley – 8.10%
  • Sixty Minute Man / Billy Ward and the Dominoes – 5.40%
  • Rock and Roll Blues / Anita O’Day – 5.40%
  • Have Mercy Baby / Billy Ward and the Dominoes – 5.40%
  • The Things That I Used to Do / Guitar Slim – 5.40%
  • Mystery Train / Elvis Presley – 5.40%
  • I’m in the Mood / John Lee Hooker – 2.70%
  • Mean Old World / Little Walter – 2.70%
  • Gee / The Crows – 2.70%
  • Money Honey / Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters – 2.70%
  • Shake a Hand / Faye Adams – 2.70%
  • (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean / Ruth Brown – 2.70%
  • Night Train / Jimmy Forrest – 0%
  • Work With Me, Annie / Hank Ballard and the Midnighters – 0%
  • Hearts of Stone / The Charms – 0%
  • Rock Island Line / Lonnie Donegan – 0%

1955: Our Nominees for the Hall of Songs

A massive year with some big songs. We add 10 nominees to the Hall of Songs pool. Now, it’s your turn to vote.

The film Blackboard Jungle signals that rock ‘n’ roll has arrived. About unruly high school students and the teacher who attempts to save them from destruction, the movie did well in the box office but was more popular for the song that accompanied its opening title card.

“Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets plays at the very beginning of the film. It’s a propulsive way to introduce Americans to the world of mid 1950s youth. This wild sound was what the kids were listening to, and thanks to “Rock Around the Clock” it would become much more popular.

Of course, that’s one narrative. Rock ‘n’ roll had been building and shifting already by 1955. What we hear throughout this episode are songs that seem to perfect their individual genres. Little Richard gives New Orleans R&B some sheen with “Tutti Frutti” while Elvis Presley continues to rule rockabilly with “Mystery Train.” Over in blues, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters trade slaps and get better from it. All the while, Chuck Berry seemingly creates the first great post-“Rock Around the Clock” song.

This is 1955. Listen, then click here to vote for who you think should make the Hall of Songs.

Our 1955 nominees:

  • Bo Diddley” as performed by Bo Diddley
    • Written by Ellas McDaniel (as Bo Diddley), recorded March 1955, released April 1955
  • I’m a Man” as performed by Bo Diddley
    • Written by Ellas McDaniel (as Bo Diddley), recorded March 1955, released April 1955
  • Ain’t That a Shame” as performed by Fats Domino
    • Written by Antoine Domino (as Fats Domino), Dave Bartholomew, recorded March 1955, released April 1955
  • Rock Around the Clock” as performed by Bill Haley & His Comets
    • Written by Max C. Freedman, recorded April 1954, released May 1954 and May 1955
  • Mannish Boy” as performed by Muddy Waters
    • Written by McKinley Morganfield (as Muddy Waters), Mel London, Ellas McDaniel (as Bo Diddley), recorded May 1955, released June 1955
  • Maybellene” as performed by Chuck Berry
    • Written by Chuck Berry, Russ Fratto, Alan Freed, recorded May 1955, released July 1955
  • Mystery Train” as performed by Elvis Presley
    • Written by Junior Parker, recorded July 1955, released August 1955
  • Tutti Frutti” as performed by Little Richard
    • Written by Little Richard, Dorothy LaBostrie, recorded September 1955, released October 1955
  • The Great Pretender” as performed by The Platters
    • Written by Buck Ram, recorded fall 1955, released November 1955
  • Rock Island Line” as performed by Lonnie Donegan
    • Traditional song, recorded fall 1955, released late 1955

Check out the full episode to learn more about these songs and why they’re so great, vote now by clicking here, and come back on April 18, 2021, when we discuss our nominees from 1956.

The Very 1950s Music of ‘Back to the Future’

One of the best moments in cinema is when Marty McFly turns the corner and finds himself face to face with Main Street, Hill Valley, in November of 1955. In this classic scene setter in Back to the Future, Marty reads a poster promoting showings of the 1954 film Cattle Queen of Montana, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan. That information comes into play later in the film – just about everything in Back to the Future has purpose.

At that same moment, “Mr. Sandman” by the Four Aces begins.

It’s the inferior “Mr. Sandman,” as we’ve discussed previously – the Chordettes perform the definitive, sprite and superbly produced version. The record store advertises new singles: “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Fess Parker and “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Other record covers: “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole, Patti Page’s In the Land of Hi-Fi, and Eydie Gorme’s Eydie in Dixieland. There is an issue here, however: Both the Page and Gorme albums were released after 1955; in fact, Gorme’s came out in 1959.

Nevertheless, the scene is set: This is a different time.

Music plays a critical role in Back to the Future, helping to set scenes and even draw attention to the characters. For example, there’s Marty’s big moment on stage at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, where he helps Marvin Berry and the Starlighters finish a performance so Lorraine Bates and George McFly can kiss. The group plays “Earth Angel” by the Penguins when the big kiss occurs (one of the most satisfying moments in film history), and afterward, Marty breaks into the “new” sound of 1958: “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.

“Earth Angel” is one of the two current Hall of Songs nominees that shows up in the movie. The Starlighters also play “Night Train” by Jimmy Forrest as teenagers twirl about on the dance floor. We also get some nominee-adjacent tunes, such as the Four Aces’ version of “Mr. Sandman” and “The Wallflower” by Etta James, an answer song to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ “Work With Me Annie.”

But it ain’t all 1950s tunes in Back to the Future. Of course, Huey Lewis and the News pops in, but so does Eddie Van Halen. And that one, like just about everything in the film, has a purpose.

1951-54 Veterans Committee Meeting

Our current list of nominees for the Hall of Songs is at 28 songs. In this bonus episode, we add another.

The “veterans committee” meets, and we discuss “Dust My Broom” by Elmore James (1951) as we add it to the pool. Then we go deep into the list itself, picking out trends we’ve seen between 1951 and ’54, highlighting some of the bigger stories we’ve talked about, and handicapping listener picks for the Hall of Songs.

Here’s the current list of nominees:

Our next episode, unveiling the nominees from 1955, drops on April 4, 2021.

1954: Our Nominees for the Hall of Songs

We continue to fill up the pool of nominees as we reach 1954. Here is our next set of nominees for the Hall of Songs.

Smack in the middle of 1954, a young man from Memphis records his first single late at night during a session at Sun Records. That single, a cover of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right,” causes a fervor in Memphis and makes a name of its singer, Elvis Presley.

While Elvis’ origin story casts a large shadow over 1954, it’s not just him making noise. In fact, 1954 is the year doo-wop really steps up and becomes a force in pop music. Two hits specifically – “Sh’Boom” and “Mr. Sandman” – prove mightiest as massive hits on the pop charts.

With all this shifting on the charts, that means the era of the big-selling, old-school pop vocalist is beginning to end. The most popular names in pop heading into 1954 are Tony Bennett, Perry Como, and Eddie Fisher, and their fortunes are soon to change. Meanwhile another major vocalist of the last 15 years, Frank Sinatra, is about to see his career take a major shift in a good way.

We talk about all of that and more in our 1954 episode of Hall of Songs.

Our 1954 nominees:

  • I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” as performed by Muddy Waters
    • Written by Willie Dixon, recorded January 1954, released January 1954
  • Work With Me Annie” as performed by Hank Ballard & His Midnighters
    • Written by Hank Ballard, recorded January 1954, released February 1954
  • Sh’Boom” as performed by The Chords
    • Written by James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, recorded March 1954, released spring 1954
  • Shake, Rattle and Roll” as performed by Big Joe Turner
    • Written by Jesse Stone (as Charles F. Calhoun), recorded February 1954, released April 1954
  • That’s All Right” as performed by Elvis Presley
    • Written by Arthur Crudup, recorded July 1954, released July 1954
  • Earth Angel” as performed by The Penguins
    • Written by Curtis Williams, Jesse Belvin, Gaynel Hodge, recorded August 1954, released October 1954
  • Hearts of Stone” as performed by The Charms
    • Written by Eddie Ray and Rudy Jackson, recorded fall 1954, released fall 1954
  • Mr. Sandman” as performed by The Chordettes
    • Written by Pat Ballard, recorded fall 1954, released November 1954

Check out the full episode to learn more about these songs and why they’re so great, and come back on April 4, 2021, when we discuss our nominees from 1955.

So, This is Music Before Elvis

On July 8, 1954, Elvis Presley’s cover of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right” first hit the airwaves in Memphis, Tennessee. While the full weight of Elvis wasn’t felt across America for another two years, you can draw a clear line in the middle of ’54. After this is a music world with Elvis, whose pull was as strong as a deadly tornado, while before it is a vast landscape untouched by ferocious winds. It’s a place where sounds could sprout and grow on their own terms. It’s a time of innocence and wildness – really anything could happen.

What we’ve heard during the first three episodes of Hall of Songs is a whole range of sounds, from plaintive and searing country by way of Hank Williams to gashouse rhythm and blues by way of Billy Ward and His Dominoes, and from rousing blues by way of Big Mama Thornton to doo-wop by way of the Crows. This is practically everything in the Anglo West outside of jazz and the traditional pop laid down by the likes of Nat King Cole, Patti Page, and Tony Bennett, but it exists in pockets. There’s rhythm and blues in the Deep South, Blues in Chicago, country music in between, and something a bit more polished on either coast. Soon everything will converge, and to many, it does so through Elvis.

That makes this period, the years between 1951 and 54, intimately special. All of the songs we hear in the Hall of Songs nominee pool are held dear by the youth and by Black Americans, by the non-traditional musical tastemakers. They’re not pop hits because they’re not pop, or in other words, pop hasn’t shifted to these genres. That will happen with Bill Haley and especially with Elvis, and then there’ll be some pushback in the very late 1950s and early 1960s, just before the Beatles kick down the doors for good. But before all that push and pull there’s this small slice of music history, where pioneers like Les Paul and Lloyd Price advance music forward so that the more immortalized giants like Elvis can really thrive.

Once we get to 1954, everything begins to change. The sound that is generally accepted as early rock ‘n’ roll clarifies. The sound that is generally accepted as soul is born and quickly steps into its own lane. The truth is that these sounds are a lot closer than one thinks, that what we consider rock ‘n’ roll is actually a great combination of white and Black, of gee-tar and piani. But we’ve been told that this and that are different, and once 1954 hits, this and that truly start to become this and that.

But that’s for future conversations. For now, we can appreciate the experimentation and the raw sounds of hiccupping guitars, bouncy boogie-woogie piano lines, and suggestive vocals not yet ready for prime time.

The music of the very early 1950s is as much enlightening as it is exciting. It’s been a pleasure to fall in love with songs like “Sixty Minute Man” and “Night Train.” Once Elvis hits, things won’t ever be the same, but this small sample here proves that rock ‘n’ roll was always about underdogs, the overlooked, the underappreciated, and the viscerally adept.

1953: Our Nominees for the Hall of Songs

The journey to determine the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs in history continues as we name our 1953 nominees for Hall of Songs.

1953 is when the rock ‘n’ roll narratives that we’ve come to know begin to take shape. It’s when street-corner doo-wop makes its impact in record stores, when Hank Williams sets a template for the future of country music, and when Bill Haley first gets the kids dancing to his unique version of rockabilly swing. To many, these are the things that make rock ‘n’ roll.

But 1953 is also the year rhythm and blues, or rock ‘n’ roll-style music targeted to Black listeners, takes a giant leap forward with the help of young artists like Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, and Clyde McPhatter. These talents, all part of the fast-growing stable at Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records, will help create what we know of as soul music, though we feel that all of it is rock ‘n’ roll, a reframing of narratives.

Another icon of rock ‘n’ roll mythology, the Corvette, is first produced in 1953. This all-American sports car will become a symbol of freedom and discovery, perfectly paralleling rock ‘n’ roll’s impact on society. Yup, 1953 is a year when narratives are born; the following nine nominees help tell the story of this critical moment in popular Western music.

Our 1953 nominees:

  • Your Cheatin’ Heart” as performed by Hank Williams
    • Written by Hank Williams, recorded September 1952, released January 1953
  • Hound Dog” as performed by Big Mama Thornton
    • Written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, recorded August 1952, released February 1953
  • (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” as performed by Ruth Brown
    • Written by Johnny Wallace and Herbert J. Lance, recorded December 1952, released early 1953
  • Crazy Man, Crazy” as performed by Bill Haley & His Comets
    • Written by Bill Haley and Marshall Lytle, recorded April 1953, released April 1953
  • Gee” as performed by The Crows
    • Written by William Davis and Viola Watkins, recorded February 1953, released June 1953
  • Mess Around” as performed by Ray Charles
    • Written by Ahmet Ertegun, recorded May 1953, released June 1953
  • Shake a Hand” as performed by Faye Adams
    • Written by Joe Morris, recorded early 1953, released mid 1953
  • Money Honey” as performed by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters
    • Written by Jesse Stone, recorded August 1953, released September 1953
  • The Things That I Used to Do” as performed by Guitar Slim
    • Written by Eddie Jones (Guitar Slim), recorded October 1953, released late 1953

Check out the full episode to learn more about these songs and why they’re so great, and come back on March 21, 2021, when we discuss our nominees from 1954.

Cleveland, 1951: A Shot Heard ‘Round the World?

At age 30, on July 11, 1951, Alan Freed looked about 40. But everyone in those days looked 10 years older than their birth certificates. He played records during the late shift on WJW in Cleveland—late shift being 11:15 p.m. Who’s awake and listening to the radio at 11:15 p.m. in 1951? The hep teens. They’re listening.

Record Rendezvous was located at 300 Prospect Avenue in Cleveland. It’s about two blocks from the city’s Public Square in one direction and two blocks in the other direction from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. That’s to say that Record Rendezvous was in the middle of Cleveland, at the center of the action with its human-sized window displays, its racks upon racks of 45s and long players, and its owner Leo Mintz. That’s a very 1951 name: Leo Mintz.

Sometime before 1951 when Freed was working as a disc jockey in nearby Akron, Freed met Mintz. The latter was peddling jumpy songs labeled as “rhythm and blues” because they were targeted to Black people, an improvement from the pre-World War II term of “race records.” Freed was noticing that white teenagers were buying the songs meant for Black people. That meant there must have been other teens out there who’d buy them, which meant there must have been more money out there to make.

It’s possible Mintz saw into the future, at the scores of white people who would gladly appropriate and revise this sound for millions of dollars. But he probably didn’t—he probably just saw short-term money.

In 1951 in Cleveland, a city north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Black people of course weren’t actually considered equal to white people. Pay wasn’t the same. Job opportunities weren’t the same. We were three years away from Brown v Board of Education and in the very early stages of white flight. Highways were being threaded right through Black neighborhoods. And we were 22 years from a lawsuit brought on by the NAACP against Cleveland schools and the State of Ohio aiming to integrate those schools. Cleveland was still very racist in 1951, but Mintz noticed that Black and white hep teens were coming into Record Rendezvous and buying rhythm and blues records. It’s 1951—small things had to happen as much as big things.

So once Freed got to WJW in Cleveland, Mintz started pushing those rhythm and blues records to Freed. And that’s a literal push—Mintz sat next to Freed in the studio and gave him the vinyl records he’d play. Billy Ward and His Dominoes. Paul Williams and His Hucklebuckers. Tiny Grimes, who played with Art Tatum, who influenced Les Paul. It wouldn’t all be rhythm and blues at 11:15 p.m., since Freed still had to ensure radio listeners were getting a full spectrum of songs, from hits of the day to showtunes and novelty fare, to occasional jazz and whatever else came about. But when rhythm and blues records came on, the white kids responded. Immediately.

By fall 1951, Freed had a large audience following him late at night. He called himself the Moondog, possibly after a song he may have used as his theme, or possibly after the man who performed the other song he may have used as his theme. The truth is blurred because it’s 1951, but the point is Freed became an overnight sensation on the radio. WJW’s reach gave Freed an audience that spanned the Midwestern United States. By the end of 1951 thousands of hep teens were jamming out to the Moondog and the rhythm and blues records fed to him by his small business owner friend.

At some point during all this, Freed is said to have used the term “rock ‘n’ roll.” He didn’t invent that— “rocking and rolling” had been used as a way to describe the activity in Black churches, and in some places it was used as a sexual term—but like the music that he played, Freed was the one who got it out to the white teens. The hep ones. Freed called himself a “hep” guy, too.

When we talk about rock ‘n’ roll, we start with 30-year-old 40-something Alan Freed and his buddy Leo Mintz because it’s the closest we get to a big bang, a shot heard ’round the world. They’re the guys who realized that the records made by Black performers and marketed to Black audiences by white executives could actually make a lot more money because the music was really good. Freed and Mintz deserve credit for seeing a trend, for believing in the music, and for I assume rightly thinking the music was really good. But they’re just two guys who steered something in another direction. If anything, rock ‘n’ roll was always there in the sounds of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Robert Johnson, and of Roy Brown and most certainly of the Dominoes and the Hucklebuckers.

Cleveland is where rock ‘n’ roll became an idea celebrated by the entire country. That’s no small feat. But we don’t need to continue lifting Freed up to an impossible plateau. We don’t need to continue crediting a city by building shrines designed to be the new center of the action. (Record Rendezvous is no longer inhabited, and WJW is now ESPN Cleveland.) The best way to honor the roots of rock ‘n’ roll is to play those songs as loud and as often as possible. Blast those Dominoes. Higher on the Hucklebuckers. That’s the idea.