The sound of music and subversion

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Down on the coast I like to ask folks that I meet “where are you from?”
They reply and, courteously, ask where I am from.
Then I say “here” and watch the envy in their eyes.
I have a mean streak.The other day I asked a guy who was loading his car for the trip home. He replied, “Gallatin, Tennessee. Near Nashville.  You probably never heard of it.”
Of course I had.  As had just about everybody of my generation who grew up a teenager in the Lower South.
“Gallatin, Tennessee,” I replied.  “Randy’s Record Mart.”
The name recalled the era.
As the Civil Rights Movement bubbled up in the lower South, a subversive radio station shook one of the pillars on which white supremacy rested and may have even cracked it a little.
WLAC, Nashville, Tennessee, transmitted 50,000 watts of music down to us.  It was not like the music our parents listened to.  It set their teeth on edge.  Randy and his Record Mart were right in the middle of it.
It all began innocently enough.
After World War II, a DJ at WLAC began playing songs that were requested by students at two local colleges – Fisk University and Tennessee State Agricultural & Industrial College (now Tennessee State University).
Students at Fisk and TSA&I were black.
The music they requested reflected that.
Meanwhile down deep in Dixie, teenagers riding around in cars, at night, listening to the radio, had a problem. Most small town stations shut down at sunset. And the few that stayed played music for the grownups – big band, Dixieland, or “smooth” country music.
Spinning the dial to find something else, teenagers discovered WLAC.
Rock n’ Roll was abroad on the land, but small town, daytime stations didn’t play much of it.  An occasional Elvis, maybe the Everly Brothers, more rockabilly than rock, and precious little of that.
What they certainly didn’t play was “race music” – a polite way to avoid calling it what impolite people called it.
While black singers who sounded white were popular with all but the most virulent racists, black singers who sounded black weren’t.
(I recall being at a party when someone put Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” on the record player and immediately a parent/chaperone took it off.)
WLAC gave teenagers like me a taste of what was denied us.
In the evenings, when my friends and I were abroad on the land, along with the usual R&R , WLAC threw in R&B,  Rhythm-n-Blues –“Fats” Domino, Little Willie John, LaVern Baker, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Richard.
Not only that, we could buy them.
Sponsoring the show was Randy’s Record Mart of  Gallatin, Tennessee, which was on its way to becoming the largest mail order record store in the nation.
And here is the really subversive part. Randy’s sold records in a package.  Suppose you want a couple of records that were moving up on the charts.  You order the package and you got the ones you wanted plus 2 or 3 more by artists you never heard of — Ivory Joe Hunter, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Lloyd Price and others.
And when you heard them, you wanted more.
Some said it was a way for Randy to unload unsold inventory, but in my case it was a way for me to learn that there was more out there.
Parents and record producers tried to turn back the tide. They had Pat Boone “cover” Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” a misguided effort that produce one of the worst recordings in recording history.  Thanks to WLAC and Randy’s Record Mart, I would have none of it.
Later Little Richard told a reporter from the Washington Post that “the white kids would have Pat

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