Getting Wider Acceptance

Crossover music is that which was written, recorded, or performed for one genre, and then successfully brought over and presented in an another. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (online)-2003-- gives a oneliner on it (complete with awkward wording) thusly:

'Crossover Music' means music mixed other style musics. For example, Boston Pop Orchestra and S&M concert of Metallica.
Country and Classical music understand and recognize this phenomenon.

Country Music

In an essay on what defines country music, Rex Benson writes:

Another prevalent term in country music is "Crossover." And one of the things that country music has lost is the true crossover artist. We don't have a 1980s version of Kenny Rogers anymore, where he could release one song to pop-A/C radio and another, from the same album, to country radio. Due to the tremendous rigors of promoting a song to just one musical format (with a promotional blitz, marketing and interviews), crossing over an artist has become quite rare.


So, some well known country music might play with acceptance, (and commercial success) on another broadcast, e.g.-- pop music . Here are some examples of these audio chameleons: Patsy Cline's "Crazy", The Eagles' "Desperado"; and Lester Flats and Earl Scruggs' "Dueling Banjos." That's why country music is broken down in to categories of how 'true' it is. Shania Twain and LeeAnne Rimes being separated from George Jones and Randy Travis, (and I mean by more than gender) as well as others thought of as to the left or right of some mysterious center. And, where does Bluegrass fit in all this? Only sometimes does it crossover to a contemporary country format. It is more likely to be played on a special show.

Classical Music

But Aaron Copeland, and Leonard Bernstein understood it as well, with modern counterparts like the Boston Pops, Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church. These last two ladies (though one might add Michael Crawford, and even Pavarotti to some kind of list) are touted by Sony Music in a subheading of 'crossover'. One knows of influences in the Grand Canyon Suite and West Side Story by Copland and Bernstein respectively. The down home Western styled music in the first and urban jazz, rock and pop in the latter.


Miles Davis in the late sixties began to incorporate elements into his music derived from the psychedelic, rhythm and blues, and rock that was becoming so very big in the culture, especially the large concert-going crowd. Weather Report and the Marivishnu Orchestra branched out with eclectic approaches, too, and the result was [ rock.


Rock music is the definitive melting pot of music. Starting with a blend of rural country music and blues, it grew up with a constant of a backbeat, (thank you, Chuck Berry) and matured into something that added Middle Eastern, ("Rock the Casbah" Far Eastern, (thanks to Ravi Shankar) Caribbean, (Mahtildah on the Sloop John B.) classical, jazz and wherever and whatever to it's mixed bag. What style is The Police doing? Reggae, ummm.  What is going on when Cream does an old Robert Johnson tune full volume and at almost literal breakneck speed? The Blues only seems to crossover to specialized programs devoted to it, like shows presented by "The Gator" (and earlier by the late "'Bama") on WPFW, in Washington, DC. Whereby its covering by wannabees got the airplay. However, only Clapton, Baker and Bruce's "Sunshine of Your Love" seemed to go to pop, while "Purple Haze" (and most everything else) by the master of doing his thing, Jimi Hendrix probably was only heard on alternative, progressive and college radio stations. Even though DejaMorgana points out evidence of some of the pop-like compositions on his album, though they did not successfully crossover. The Rolling Stones heavily influenced by bluesmen like Elmore James only made hits when they also put more rock in the blues. (Exile on Main Street contains some of the most authentic sounding blues treatment, but only "Tumbling Dice" and "Happpy" transcended. B.B. King in his autobiography, All Around me is the Blues, and also the book, Blues for Dummies  admit that rock was really the blues.  I liked how in the sixties Ocean brought an early contemporary Christian rock tune to the airwaves, "Put Your Hand in the Hand".


Popular music is, of course,  what the majority population listens to. It seriously pays the bills. It is a changeable stylistic art itself. Jazz was popular before World War II, but the crooning element stayed in the fifties, (like Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra). Popular music in rural areas developed out of folksy ballads until Jimmie Rodgers developed his 12 bar yodeling from blues and started what is today considered country. How many got to enjoy Hank Williams? I remember in the mid fifties the readily available music consisting of songs like "How Much is that Doggie in the Window", "Crossover the Bridge" (how ironic) and that era saw a strong introduction of Latin music (now called Latino? (It is still going strong and gaining ground: look at...Christina Aguilera, and the Iglesias clan). Of course I remember Prez Prado's "Cherry Pink, Apple Blossom White" {especially heard in the soundtrack of Underwater, with Jane Russell and Richard Eagan (played on Television). Then, on certain bandwidths, there was some marvelous music. I remember in 1956, I think, hearing the Coasters' "Searchin'" (covered, but not well known, in the next decade by The Lovin' Spoonful), but more significant (to me) was Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly" a crossover to a new genre, rock and roll, from Rhythm and Blues? Was "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis, more than a crossover from country's cousin, rockabilly, but a refugee to what become declared immortal by Danny and the Juniors? Sam Phillips' collection of blues records certainly must have inspired Elvis Presely and Carl Perkins. Remember Mahalia Jackson traversed and "Oh Happy Day" blessed us from the Gospel side of the Jordan. Only time (4/4 of course) will answer these queries.

Of course, popularity of music, no matter what its original intended audience must also equal profit for many involved to ensure a broad broadcast. Where is the Latino paragraph? The Celtic, the might ask; you and I know space will not permit the uncalculable permutations available. So use your mind and go on out there. So no matter what you feel about Britney Spears and her compatriots on the male side, money not only talks, it sings!


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