Rockabilly music is musical whapatooli. Websters.com doesn't recognize the word, but anyone who was ever a teenager probably has a pretty good handle on what it means. The website whapatooli.com defines it as, "1) A punch-like alcoholic beverage whose ingredients include beer, rum, vodka, Kool Aid®, 7-Up®, ginger ale, and chunks of fruit. 2) A confused mixture of loosely related items. " It's definition # 1 that most of us probably remember from those college parties (or maybe not!), But # 2 is the one that fits rockabilly music. Or does it?
Rockabilly is certainly a mixture of loosely-related items. A healthy dose of country music, a bunch of blues, a handful of gospel, and a heaping portion of rhythm and Blues, all topped off with a pinch of jazz for flavoring. But I wouldn't really call the music a "confused" mixture of these ingredients.
Rockabilly music has a very logical structure to it. Like other forms of popular music such as country, blues, folk, and so on, it's pretty easy to identify the sections of a rockabilly tune. But perhaps the music does seem confused to some people. It's certainly manic and energetic. And I guess if you really analyzed it, you'd have to agree that any thinking person would doubt that you could get away with throwing hardcore country licks over no-nonsense blues sensibility and come up with a completely new genre of music. Sure, maybe it'd work for a song or two here and there – sort of as a novelty – but you couldn't sustain a complete movement. And certainly not one that would change the world of pop music forever!
But that's exactly what happened. There were the blues and there was country music and there was even country blues. But none of it was rockabilly . Not at first. Not until it evolved and grew and the world was finally ready for rockabilly! And when rockabilly finally arrived, it didn't come knocking politely at pop's door. It exploded onto the scene! It crashed through radio speakers and new TV screens in the form of a hip-shaking, golden-voiced kid named Elvis. And the explosion sparked countless fires all over the world. Soon the whole planet was ablaze with rockabilly. Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Johnny Burnette … and those are just ones "everybody" talks about. Countless other even more obscure rockabilly artists added fuel to the fire.
And the fire still rages today. It seems like there are more true rockabilly acts on stage now then there has been since those early days. Rockabilly festivals take place all year round and all over the world as fans reestablish a bond with this musical whapatooli that just never quits. And rockabilly bands keep finding new ways to combine the varied ingredients that make up the volatile mixture. Along with millions of other fans of the music, all I can say is, "Gimme more!"