Turn It Down! I Can Still Hear It! Shake, Rattle, & Turn That Noise Down! by Mark Alan Stamaty
The day I turned eight in 1955, my parents gave me a really cool birthday present.
It might not seem so great today because the world has changed so much. TV was black and white. In our house, besides our TV, we had one big radio in the living room that was shared by all three of us.
So getting my own radio for my on room was a very big deal!
But the more things change, the more they stay the same! As they smile happily, watching little Mark sweetly singing along with Patti Page to the three-four rhythm of "The Tennessee Waltz," his parents don't know know that they will soon be dancing to different Tennessee beat.
"... that innocent-looking plastic box would one day be the gateway for a NEW kind of sound..."
The day that little Mark turns on his radio and hears Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" blasting Memphis rhythm & blues, his fate is sealed. Before his aghast parents know what is happening, he's sporting a pompadour and practicing his rubber-leg routine with a tennis-racket guitar in front of his mirror. There's a temporary truce when Mom hears the soft sounds of "Love Me Tender" and grants him the privilege of purchasing that ONE Elvis 45. Of course, she doesn't reckon with what's on the B side.
And it's all over for peace in the house! As his parents pray the Elvis fad will blow over before little Mark turns into a juvenile delinquent, Mark goes on to discover Little Richard and worse, and before Mom knows what's happening, he and his duck-tailed, lip-sync band are starring in the Cub Scout Talent show with you-know-who beginning his career as an Elvis impersonator and bringing the house down.
I was Rockin' That Joint! The house went wild! "You must be proud of your boy," someone said.
And she was.
A veteran of the volume battles in my own youth ("Turn it down! I can still hear it!" is a direct quote from my own parental units), I found Mark Stamaty's full-color comic-style version of the generational music gap wars a real trip back in time. Whatever the music of the time was or is, from hot jazz to boogie woogie to rock & roll to rap, kids are going to play their music and parents are going to cover their ears. Cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty' new Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down!: How Elvis Shook Up Music, Me & Mom (Knopf, 2010) is a light-hearted look at how it was and will ever be. Current kids have encountered the iconic Elvis and his music somewhere along the way and will enjoy Stamaty's frenetic illustrations and instinctively groove to the universal urge to be way cool.
In addition to having done his killer Cub Scout Elvis at the White House (see the book's appendix), Stamaty is also the author of Who Needs Donuts? and his graphic novel Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq.