I have previously stated (or in other words: screamed, fan-girled, jumped with excitement, cried with awe-filled tears) my extreme love for British music, artist, and bands. But today might have trumped Christmas day when Spotify added the Beatles to their songs chart, as I was given the extreme privilege of re-living British music when we took our London Rock Walk today in Western London.
At the beginning of our tour starting at Tottenham Court, our tour guide Adam (although personally I think he looks more like a “Jim”) told us the tour we were about to embark on is not a tour of sights and places, but rather of people. He sure did stick to his word. We traveled down streets and around buildings made iconic by future, world-wide stars, where bands such as the The Who, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones played, and where Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, and John Lennon all began.
Ever since the British Invasion, starting with the Beatles, citizens of America have been in love with British music. I personally believe that this is the biggest influence that British music has on American music: competition. One American boy band is always trying to be more drooled over than the competing British boy band.
As we walked down streets, and passed local cafes, “Jim” talked a lot about each of the big names that we now know, started out at coffee shops and small recording studios (including many we walked past). Each background started small, these musicians had to actually work for what they wanted and work to be heard, whereas today, all you need is an app and a social media account.
However, because of this competition between British and American musicians, I believe British music is keeping American music as original and authentic as music can be in the twenty-first century. The only difference is the coverage that the musicians get.
In a reading called “The British Invasion at 50: A byproduct of American music that changed the world” Chuck Yarborough mentions when the British Invasion began, the New York Times controlled what did and didn’t happen, “If it wasn’t in the Times, it didn’t really happen. Or worse, wasn’t worth noting.”
I think this is a big influence for British musicians to want and get involved in the States. American’s idolize musicians and celebrities to a sinful extent, where fame is easily achieved. However, there were hardly even plaques outside the shops we visited today, and most shops were no longer what they were 50 years ago when these bands were around. Whereas in America, we’ve preserved Graceland.
Most fascinating to me, was the amount of rejection each world-wide known musician was given before they decided to stop listening and just do it. My particular favorite is when “Jim” told us that Elton John was told that his fingers were too fat and he would never be a good piano player. Maybe Elton John would still grow up to be famous, but can you imagine him without the piano?
Speaking of “imagine,” I love John Lennon. (That’s all really, just wanted to add that).
If I were to “walk the Rock” again, the only thing I would do differently is have my headphones in and listen to the musicians that I can picture walking down the same streets, just 50 years earlier. There are three songs I would be sure to include in my playlist.
The first is “London, Bye, Ta Ta” by David Bowie. This might seem like an odd choice, but this song helps me to relate to these artists. In the song Bowie says “London bye ta-ta, Strange young town, London bye ta-ta, brought me down.” Although I do not agree with saying goodbye to London, I have also not been rejected (or told my fingers are too fat).
The second is “Come Together” by the Beatles. Although this is one of my all time favorite songs, I choose this one because one single band cannot perform its own invasion. A lot of British musicians had to “come together” to invade America. And I am sure glad they did!
My third is “Viva la Vida” by Colplay. This title literally means “Live life” in Spanish, and it perfectly sums up what these incredible artists were trying to do. Fame did come with it, however they all were doing what the love and living the life they wanted to live. Although this song talks about once being high up and now being low, it still has a positive beat and uplifting message to go and live your life. All of these musicians have had their highs and their lows, but they continue to strive for what they love.
Needless to say, today brought me near to the British Rock-and-Roll history (but even nearer to tears).
You really out-did yourself today, London. Let’s see if you can top this one tomorrow!