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Style vs. Tone in the 60’s

I’d like to continue the discussion I began in my previous blog about style, and dive more into the music history lesson on the last half century I started. To do a style vs. substance comparison of this decade with the good ole days, look no further than the greats: The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley…to name a few folks you’ve maybe heard of 😉

These are not only some of my favorites but literally the most popular of the era that you can find. And by the way, I’m barely scratching the surface…I could talk about CCR, Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and countless others…
From the first list, I’d be willing to bet you can name you favorite songs by all of them in an instant, and also be able to hear their iconic sound in your head simultaneously! Why? Because they were the frontrunners and torch bearers of “alternative” music. Before The Beatles, girls didn’t scream uncontrollably for music artists. We’ve almost grown used to that sort of thing today with artists like Justin Bieber. But they were singing recklessly and edgy for their time and didn’t hold back. If you compare what they were doing to what you hear today, it’s important to note that The Beatles weren’t trying to be weird, they were trying to simply communicate in a manner that matched their voice. This is so key people! Your style should match you! You don’t need to change you to sing quirky!

Elvis Presley was even more controversial with his shockingly (at the time) seductive dance moves. Now, you can say the same about Madonna or Lady Gaga or whoever really, but Elvis had such a smooth tonal quality about his voice that made it always more about the music. His style was very charismatic… but so was Elvis! His style matched his sultry voice, not the other way around.

Franklin was the matriarch of soul. Her voice was brassy, smooth, released, velvety, and raw all at the same time. While her talent was organic, don’t think for a minute that she didn’t care about her tone. She was, however, MORE caring about her communication. That’s why she was reckless. It wasn’t about sounding good, but about sounding real. That’s where true style comes from. I guarantee you she wasn’t so concerned with sounding “different” as much as simply being real. As a result her style supported her voice because being real was all about letting the “real” Aretha out!!!

Style IS tone….when it’s in its most real and authentic delivery. Go chew on that.

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Shelby Rollins

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