What Dylan Said

The death of Dick Clark has brought on a fresh wave of nostalgia for the America of the 1950s.

As Sam Goldwyn once said, Include me out.

I don’t know when they started — I figure when the GIs returned from the War — but the 50s’s style and culture extended well into the 60s.  I was very young, but I have clear memories of the era.  I have an older brother who epitomized the World of Grease and brought it right into the place where I was trying to live.  Plus I hadn’t found drugs yet.

The 50s suckedSee below for the musical version.

My recollection of the times is dominated by smells.  The world stunk of motor oil, hair tonic (remember Bryl Crème and Wildroot?) greasy fried foods, and cigarette smoke.  Everybody smoked.  Everywhere, all the time.

The nation was fixated on automobiles.  The bigger the car, the better, and the larger the car’s fins — an utterly useless feature — the more status it lent to the owner.   No need for truck nuts — the fins were all you needed, and they came as standard equipment.

You combine the motor oil from the cars, the fried fat from the food, and the slime from the hair products, you got yourself a sea of stinking grease.  That was the 50s.

The big thing was conformity.  You weren’t supposed to look, dress, think, or act “different,” or you’d be “square,” or even worse: “queer.” If you were square, your social life was over, so you better go with the crowd when they guys greased up their heads, slipped on their tight continental pants, and slouched on down to the luncheonette or diner to smoke cigarettes, drink soda, and play doo-wop on the juke box, some of the worst white-boy music ever created.  But you better like it, daddy-o.  Whatarya, queer?

Guys talked about sex all the time.  They talked about girls who “put out.”  Guys liked sex.  Girls didn’t.  But don’t listen when they say No.  They don‘t mean it.  Everybody knows that.

If you were cool, you slouched a lot and acted bored all the time.  Isn’t that inspiring?  And never get caught reading an actual book.  You want to read, pick up a Mad magazine.

And let’s not get into the politics of the day, let alone the race relations.  Commies under every bed preparing to pounce, and Negroes expected to know their place.  Suffering Segregation, Batman.

No, the 50s ate shit.  In American Bandstand’s jargon, I’d give them a minus 10.  I’d as soon bring back polio as that era.

The Fifties Suck

by Pinkard and Bowden

(Who was, who was, who was, who was, who was, who was, who was, I don’t know)

(spoken intro)

You know I saw Conway Twitty walking down

the streets of Nashville the other day,

I thought to myself, “Well, sh*t the bed, there goes Conway Twitty.”

If the Fifties were so great

Why did the Sixties have to set the world straight?

If Elvis and Buddy and Jerry Lee were really so cool

Then why is just one out of three still livin’

If that’s livin’

With oxford shirts and khaki pants

3D movies about giant ants

The music and media make me scream

When they make the Fifties seem like some kind of dream

Brillcream, Wildroot, and bobby sox

Measles and mumps, polio, and chicken pox

With fins on cars as big as tanks

We saved the world and got no thanks

It’s easy to forget now how it was

I’m glad it’s not the Fifties now because

Oh baby, the Fifties suck, oh yes they suck

They really suck the big one

The Fifties suck

They really suck the big one

You do, too

If James Dean really was such a superstar

You’d think that he’d have taught himself to drive a car

With Khrushchev getting in our face

McCarthy and the big arms race

It’s easy to forget now how it was

I’m glad it’s not the Fifties now because

Oh baby, the Fifties suck, oh yes they suck

They really suck the big one

The Fifties suck

They really suck the big one

The Fifties suck, oh yes

They really suck the big one

You do, too (Backwoods)

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5 Responses to What Dylan Said

  1. Old Timer says:

    When I think back to the 50s, what I remember is the way Americans were so goddam obedient and passive in the face of authority. They believed, never questioned. They actually had faith in their government. To express a contrary view was to risk being labeled a comunist. It was stifling and stupid.

  2. ya' gotta' guessit says:

    It wasn’t all bad, Squathole, I’d take a ’57 Bardot over a ’12 Kardashian any day of the effing week.

  3. Polio says:

    Hey, thanks for the mention. But truly, I liked the 50’s. They were really good to me for a while.

  4. Dawgbowl says:

    Wow. I figure you’re about 25 years older than I thought you were.

    When I was growing up, I remember my father reacting to anything in the news he didn’t like by saying, “This sort of crap would never have happened if Ike was still President.” He finally stopped saying that during Watergate, when I pointed out to him that Nixon was Eisenhower’s VP.

    Anyway, he thought the 1950s represented the high point of American civilization, power, and decency. We didn’t get along too well.

  5. Generation Y says:

    Who’s “Dylan?”

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