Sunday, 24 February 2013

Are there stars in the sky? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright. I only have eyes for you...

“I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingoos (1959)
“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers  (1956)

Doo-Wop: The influence from the street corners

An original corner-stone of pop music that we cannot ignore is what we call ‘Doo-Wop’. It was an urban ghetto post-WWII phenomenon. My English teacher would have said that “Doo Wop” is an onomatopoeia I think – words that imitate sounds basically. Yes that was the magic of this genre – bom bom, doobie doobie, shaboom,  oowahoo, shangalang.  They were essentially trying to emulate the gospel/R&B sounds of groups such as the Ink Spots. In fact Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots is sometimes regarded as the ‘Father of Doo-Wop’.

Predominantly African- American vocal group harmony (paralleled somewhat by ‘barber shop quartet’ with its understandable lyrics) could happen anywhere and it did. Why you may ask?
Not everyone could afford to buy or even play instruments. You had your voice – it might be the only instrument you need. Get a bunch of voices together and voila – instant band – a cappella style. You also had hands and fingers, so why not clap and snap the fingers too. Hey it worked.