Songs from Pre-Rock Era

The history of doo-wop and rock n’ roll is complex, and its creativity and ability to unite the black and white culture made them both valued during the pre and post-rock era (Weinstein 60). “Dream Lover” by Bobby Darlin is a famous rock n’ roll song. The song blends more of rock n’ roll style and less of doo-wop style. Albeit, the doo-wop style is significant in most major sections of the song, and it is amazing how the styles function together. The song sets off with the double bass plucking the arpeggiated chord (C – E – G). Bobby then toggles repeatedly between an A minor arpeggio (A – C – E) and C major arpeggio. This style has a nostalgic doo-wop chord progression (I – vi – IV -V). Drum set (2 and 4 having heavy beats) is heard as double bass is plucked. Call-response flourish between the piano and electric piano played during the recording. Hence, “Dream Lover” is an excellent example of doo-wop style being overpowered by rock n’ roll style. Only romantic or nostalgic lyrics and the (I – vi) progression in the verses of the song are doo-wop.

In “Song of the Wanderer” by Erskine Hawkins, the lead alto player, Bill Johnson soulfully paraphrases the melody in the first chorus and the saxophone section seconds after Mitchell’s vocal chorus. In the arrangement, Johnson plays homage to the “…style of the 1930s Jimmie Lunceford band. . .” (Claar 1). This is seen from the way he uses the saxophone section. Furthermore, Johnson ringing alto sax sound is similar to Lunceford’s tone throughout the 1930s. Next, a lead trumpet is used as a pivot to bring about a tasty upward modulation immediately after the vocal. High-register trumpet interjections burnish the final chorus as the song ends and a gliss for a high-note ending. Walking bass of Lee Stanfield produces strong rhythmic pulse throughout the song.


Works Cited

Claar, Richard. “‘Song of the Wanderer’ (1940) Erskine Hawkins.” Swing & Beyond, 7 Jan. 2018,

Weinstein, Deena. Rock’n America: A Social and Cultural History. University of Toronto Press, 2015.