The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 947: A rock explainer

Here’s why you get frustrated at spellcheck/auto-correct on your phone or computer. Blame a guy named Noah.

As a proud American, Noah was annoyed. he believed that his new country needed to set itself apart from his former colonial masters in every way possible so this new nation could truly be different, independent, and separate.

By 1828, there was no need to take up arms against England anymore, so Noah picked up his pen. As an author of schoolbooks–including many spelling books–he decided to do something about the way the British spelled some words. Why did “colour” have that extra “u?” The proper way to spell “centre” was “C-E-N-T-E-R.” Everywhere he looked, Noah saw what he believed to be nonsensical spellings.

And lo, in 1828 at the age of 70, Noah Webster published the American Dictionary of the English Language. And it wasn’t just a hit, but it became the standard for written American English. These are the spellings that are accepted today as correct in the U.S.

This means that if you have a computer, phone, or other device and have your default language set to “English,” that most often means “American English” by default. So that means if you try to spell words the Canadian, or British, or Australian way, you get that stupid squiggly line underneath thanks to grumpy Noah Webster and his nationalistic demands on language.

I now know how annoyed Noah felt back in 1828. This angers me almost as much as when my iPhone insists that I meant to write “ducking.” But that’s another story.

And now, the segue. Rock music has been with us since the early 1950s. That’s long enough to become entrenched, familiar, habitual, and basically unquestioned part of the scenary. There are so many things about the rock that we just accept and don’t really question or wonder about.

But just like auto-correct on your phone, if you start thinking about some of these things, you might wonder where they came from, why we do it, or who came up with the idea in the first place. Let’s see if I can help. I call this episode “The Rock Explainer.”

Songs heard on this show:

  • Metro Politan, Let Me Explain
  • U2, Where the Streets Have No Name (Live)
  • Metallica, Enter Sandman
  • Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus (Live)
  • Green Day, She (Live)
  • Dread Zeppelin, Freebird
  • Billy Idol, Mony Mony

Eric Wilhite has this playlist for us.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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