Tag Archives: chuck berry

Halls of History—Small town America, abandoned

Halls of History

I spent two days in Barstow, California, in late July 2018. The population was 22,639 in the 2010 census, and the city covered 33 square miles. I’m pretty sure I drove all 33 square miles in the two days I was there.

Barstow is a major transportation hub. Five major highways converge in the city, including Interstate 15 and Interstate 40. Two major railroad systems, the Union Pacific and BNSF, have major classification yards in and around Barstow. The city is the midway point for car traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Before the Interstate highway system was built, Barstow was a major city on Route 66, “America’s Road” stretching from Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles, to Chicago. The Interstate highway system, particularly Interstate 40, replaced Route 66, bypassing many cities and their downtowns that originally serviced Route 66 traffic. You could get your kicks on Route 66.

There are many once-vibrant towns and cities on Route 66 that are now ghost towns. They didn’t survive construction of the Interstate highways. Even some major cities, such as Barstow, were affected significantly by the Interstates. Throughout Barstow, on every street, I found abandoned buildings—hotels, restaurants, businesses, houses. Sure, those exist in every city, but not to the extent that I found them in Barstow. Unfortunately, I believe this type of abandonment is ramping up again because of the Internet sales through the likes of Amazon, killing many small businesses. Note that Interstate and Internet are very similar words, and I believe their effects are similar, as well.

Following is a slide show of just some of the abandonment I found in Barstow. I found similar conditions in many other cities on my journey that had been circumvented by Interstate highways.

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Music on Mondays (3-20-17)—No particular place to go

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was born in 1955. In my youth, most historians agreed that the rock ‘n’ roll era began in 1955, so as late as 2003, I had a complete collection of all the Billboard #1 singles and #1 albums of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Then the vulgarity of rap and hip hop caused me finally to quit collecting music that I wasn’t going to listen to.

The Beatles have always been my favorites, but I have a great appreciation for the rock ‘n’ roll artists who preceded The Beatles, as did The Beatles themselves. One of my favorites is Charles Edwards Anderson Berry, who died Saturday at the age of 90. You might know him better as Chuck Berry. Here are my five favorite Chuck Berry songs:

“Maybellene,” 1955

“Roll Over Beethoven,” 1956

“Rock & Roll Music,” 1957

“Johnny B. Goode,” 1957

“No Particular Place To Go,” 1961

Interestingly, Chuck Berry only had one #1 single, a throwaway novelty song in my opinion.

“My Ding-a-ling” from 1972

When you’re a forerunner of something, people like to copy you, emulate you, try to be you. Here is my favorite cover version of a Chuck Berry song:

“Maybelline” [sic] by Foghat, 1972

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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