Before Dylan: ‘Summertime Blues’ Heralded Singer-Songwriter Era

Eddie Cochran Summertime Blues
Harry Hammond/V&A Images/Getty Images

Variety noted times were a-changin’ back in 1958.

Before Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and the dozens of other young singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s began to dominate the American music scene, Variety noted that the times were already a-changin’ back in 1958.

Calling them “idolescents,” Variety reported the “emergence of the crooner-composer,” noting their rise “marks a distinct difference from the old days of Tin Pan Alley when there was a definite separation between the songwriter and the singer.” Variety quoted “a vet publishing man” who said, “the music-bent youngsters have an impulse to write as well as sing.”

One of the most prominent examples cited by Variety was rocker Eddie Cochran, whose self-penned (with Jerry Capehart) “Summertime Blues” became a key youth anthem of the rock era, hitting the Top 10 in August 55 years ago. That summer, Variety said the Liberty release “stirs up a hot blues beat for good spinning potential in the juve market.”

And because future singer-songwriter Paul McCartney knew the words and chords to another Eddie Cochran tune, “Twenty Flight Rock,” that other singer-songwriter John Lennon said, “You can join my band.”

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