So… over the holiday break(whilst I was away from the world of real-time cyber outrage)the editor-in-chief (no less) for television for Variety wrote an article proclaiming that Elvis (yes, that Elvis) invented Rock n’ Roll sixty years ago. But, after some “pressure” from the world of social media which actually talks back to you and will ask for proof of your ridiculous claim, Ms. Littleton posted a revised headline that pretty much stated the same thesis and in the explanation passively-aggressively maintained her original point.

Now, I must plead some ignorance here because all this time I thought that Run-DMC were the Kings of Rock. Right? I mean not that they invented anything… but I was confused by the whole notion that Elvis had 1. Invented Rock and that 2. He was the King of said invention.

But I do get it. Oh how I get it and I understand why Ms. Littleton would feel as passionately as she does when giving credit to someone who does not deserve it for you see that’s the American way.

I reserve zero hate for Elvis, this coming from a guy who cannot number the amount of times he has listened to P.E.’s “Fight The Power”. Funny that on the 25th anniversary of the release of that anthem for Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” would this article appear in Variety. But again, I reserve zero hate for Elvis because Elvis is no different than George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Harold Arlen, Fred Astaire, Dave Brubeck, I can and will stop but that’s just a few of the folks who occupy a similar space as Elvis in popular culture. I can’t speak to how much agency these and other individuals had/have in their success as it relates to creating in a manner that was heavily influenced by Black Culture, but the amount owed to Black Culture by these and countless other performers is undeniable, it just becomes a problem when the revisionists come to town.

So Ms. Littleton I completely understand your article because it is written in textbook revisionism. Again, in keeping with the tenor of the previous holiday weekend it was truly done in the spirit of “The American Way”.

Creative history is not linear. There were lots of things happening musically at the same time that gave rise to the music now popularly known as Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll is an outgrowth of R&B and R&B is an outgrowth of numerous offshoots of Blues, Jazz and Gospel. However, one thing we do know is that all of the popular music birthed in this country come from the “people”=street or dirt road(depending on your geographic locale) and one thing’s for certain as it has played out across the stage of history in this country over and over again… as the music made its way from one side of town to the other side of town and found favor with the sons and daughters of citizens with a lighter hue, the music often became maligned (further) an entire movements formed to ban/censor or otherwise remove the influence from “society” sprang up.

As the example in the article(posited for perhaps no other reason than to show that Black Citizens could mimic the well-worn roadmap of the anti-whatever musical genre was the ire du jour) displayed that no particular group has cornered the market on protesting about what they believe is or isn’t morally decent for the “children” to listen to, but we didn’t get to see how successful that NAACP campaign maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t but that’s beside the point. The point, the real point is that sixty years ago and in many instances today it’s not the actual creators of history who get to tell their story it’s those who own the servers, have time to access the platform and the viewership to support the endeavor.

But what remains and incontrovertible truth over the annals of time is that it’s not always the first, the best or even the brightest but what often rules the day and by extension writes history is whomever is the most popular and for that reason and perhaps that reason alone we truly understand why you don’t know any better, Cynthia Littleton.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.