Rockabilly music is deceptive. It’s a simple, straight-forward musical style. The instrumentation on the typical rockabilly recording or live act isn’t going to amaze you in its complexity. The truth is, it will probably not even surprise you. Its song structures and chord progressions are generally extremely predictable. Its lyrics are rarely earth shattering in their revelation. In fact, they don’t even try to be. The themes of rockabilly songs just don’t run all that deep. And yet, rockabilly music still somehow manages to serve as an amazing illustration of all that is good and right about music.
Rockabilly music fills your soul and can provide an instant inspirational lift that’ll make getting through your day just a bit easier. If you’re like me, you can’t hear a rockabilly tune without a smile taking over your face. You can’t watch an old video of a rockabilly performance without enjoying every second of it and wanting to see more.
What is it about this rockabilly music? I can usually crash out my thoughts in an article like this without much trouble–the words sort of just pour out. But I’m really struggling to define what makes rockabilly music so special to me and to so many other fans. It’s raw. It’s energetic. It’s pure. It’s just plain fun!
I love all kinds of music. I’ll listen to just about anything and there are few musical genres that I really don’t want to listen to. Country? Hell yes! Rock? You bet! Folk? Blues? Jazz? Classical? I’ll listen to and enjoy it all. Fire up a rollicking polka and I’m the first one on the dance floor (especially since there’s usually beer involved with polka!) But rockabilly? Man, that just tops it all. Nothing can make my heart sing like rockabilly. And I can’t actually easily explain why. It just makes me feel good.
And I’m not alone. If you haven’t been to a live rockabilly show lately, do yourself a favor and find one to check out. You’ll see scores of people practically bolt out of their chairs at the first few notes of the band’s first song and most of them won’t sit down again until the band wraps up their set. After a few minutes’ rest, the band fires it up for set two and the crowd crashes to the dance floor all over again.
Young and old alike dig this music. Somehow it has not faded into the “oldies” or “nostalgia” categories. The music is alive and vibrant and the legacy of the original rockabilly cats is kept alive by many great modern rockabilly performers. I have played on stage or heard others play some of the same rockabilly songs what seems like a million times. And I have looked out from the stage onto a crowd that’s heard our entire repertoire of rockabilly songs so often that they even know the mistakes I always make trying to play them. And yet neither I nor they ever get tired of hearing the music. You can hear it over and over and it still makes you smile. It still makes you dance. It still makes you happy.
Music is an amazing thing. It can transform you. It can evoke and awaken emotion in you. It can lighten your day and brighten your life. Music can make you laugh and it can make you cry. It triggers memories and inspires hopes. And for millions of fans, no genre illustrates the goodness of music more than rockabilly.