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Monday, January 14, 2013

Teaching Rock History Online

A longtime music critic is teaching the history of rock, from musicians like bluesman Robert Johnson back in the 1930s, to Amanda Palmer using Kickstarter and Twitter to reach fans. (Wikimedia Commons, Kickstarter screenshot)

A longtime music critic is teaching the history of rock, from bluesman Robert Johnson (left) back in the 1930s, to Amanda Palmer (right) using Kickstarter and Twitter to reach fans today. (Wikimedia Commons, Kickstarter screenshot)

How do you teach the history of rock, from its roots back in the 1930s with musicians like bluesman Robert Johnson, to today, where musicians like Amanda Palmer take to Kickstarter and Twitter to reach fans?

Steve Morse teaches "Rock History" at Berklee College of Music. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Steve Morse teaches “Rock History” at Berklee College of Music. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

If you’re Steve Morse, you teach it online.

Morse was a longtime music critic for The Boston Globe and brings decades’ worth of experience to his online Berklee College of Music course “Rock History.”

The course taps Morse’s memories and research, video and music clips as well as exclusive interviews with musicians including the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls.

Morse told Here & Now’s Robin Young that his course is about more than just the music.

“I make an effort to really look at the social history, and not just go a, b, c, one band to the other, but to show how they impacted the culture of the time,” Morse said.

Songs heard in this segment:

Robert Johnson, “Cross Road Blues”
Buddy Holly, “Oh Boy”
Fats Domino, “Ain’t That a Shame”
Wilson Pickett, “634-5789”
Little Richard, “Lucille”
Horace Silver, “Song for My Father”
Steely Dan, “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number”
The Clash, “London Calling”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Ohio”
Amanda Palmer, “The Bed Song”
Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Guest:

  • Steve Morse, teaches “Rock History” at Berklee College of Music.

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  • kristina_w80

    I was hoping that  the website would have his email in the info about him so I could contact him personally, so I am a bit disapointed, but I wanted to make a comment on his comment about “waiting for something shake up rock music again”.  I think it’s already happening, in the form of electronic music actually. People like Skrillex a taking elements from hardcore and emo and inserting them into dubstep, and artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and James Ferraro may musically take more from people like Phillip Glass and 80s synth and new wave music, but their mindset and purpose has more in common with punk. If he wants to see where the “shake up” will/is coming from I think he should look in that direction. Also I don’t think he should see my comment as a “rock is dead” type statement, I think it’s more about attitude than what instruments you use to make it. Also if you really listen to Skrillex style dubstep (or brostep as it’s often called now, at first as an insult but now more just to separate it from the somewhat different British variety of dubstep that predates it.) it’s structure is taken directly from hardcore punk and metal.

    • mike

      oh gawd…..

      • kristina_w80

         if you have something against my comment, why don’t you explain yourself rather than making a generic comment against it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       Dubstep is a capricious fad, it is so stylized there is little room to work with in the future. 

  • Dean

    I was surprised to hear an authority on Rock History describe the last decade as being lacking in significant developments in Rock Music.  I think many young musicians and consumers of music have embraced independent rock music with equal or greater enthusiasm than the grunge rock of the 1990′s.  With bands like Radiohead leading this genre the reflection of unconventional instrumentation, creative production, promotion and distribution, and a very broad stroke of influence and sound has moved independent rock out of obscurity in these last years.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

      “I was surprised to hear an authority on Rock History describe the last
      decade as being lacking in significant developments in Rock Music.”

      I was not surprised because it is true.  It has been true for the past 15 years at least. 

      Your use of Radiohead is a poor example for recent achievement as they have been around for a long time and first hit it big in 1992. 

  • nicole

    How do you sign up for this course.   It sounds amazing !!

  • Aintmisbehavin70
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