Pioneer rock-and-rollers have blocked, at least temporarily, a proposal to call their music “rockabilly,” an artificial term applied years after rock and roll had transformed American music.
There’s a campaign to recognize U.S. Highway 67’s importance in the history of rock and roll, and somebody wants to use the name “Rockabilly Highway” for that stretch of 67 that runs through Northeast Arkansas and was once home to a number of musical venues. But Sonny Burgess, of the legendary Sonny Burgess and the Pacers, told a committee considering the matter, “In 1956, we weren’t rockabilly. That term didn’t even exist.” Joyce Riley, wife of the also-legendary Billy Lee Riley, said that to call the road “Rockabilly Highway” would be “like changing history.” Everyone old enough to remember when Burgess and Riley, Presley and Perkins, et al, were playing the clubs of Highway 67 knows that she’s right. Highway 67 is rock and roll forever.
A reader saw an Arkansas Times reference to “radical” actions by Mike Huckabee, a conservative Republican, while Huckabee was governor. He writes:
“Wouldn’t Huckabee’s actions be considered ‘reactionary’ and not ‘radical’? From my studies of history and political science, I remember far-right actions are considered reactionary. Radical is reserved for the far left.”
I seem to remember learning something like that myself. I seem to remember forgetting it, too. Apparently there’s been some change in the rule. Random House says that reactionary is still reserved for “extreme conservatism; opposing political or social change,” and that radical is an antonym of reactionary. But the dictionary also says that a radical is “a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.” That sounds like a radical could come at you from either end of the spectrum. William Safire says the phrase “radical right” was introduced in the ’50s. He quotes Alan Barth as saying of the radical right “there is nothing conservative about them. They are much more in a rage to destroy than a fervor to conserve.”