Rock N Roll Breakfast

A Family of 5 Exploring the History of Rock, 1 Breakfast at a Time

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Happy Birthday America!

Hello. It’s been a while since our last post. We’ve been booked on the weekends – soccer, dance shows, weddings, and other fun stuff have kept us really busy.

Nonetheless, RNR Breakfast will keep on keepin’ on and we’ll be back in July cracking into what has turned out to be the biggest decade yet for great songs – The 70’s…who knew?

Fear not dear readers, we aren’t leaving you in a lurch – we have a 4th of July playlist that is built for your party. We have classics, military songs, choirs, cheers, and just generally good summer songs. And there are exactly 50 tracks – how about that for creating a patriotic playlist.

Please share your thoughts on the list and suggest your favorite Independence Day and summer jams.

Happy Birthday America! We hope you have a great day and an excellent year!


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March 2014: The Times They Are a-Changin’ and This Post It Is a-late

The RNR Breakfast has suffered its first delay – considering we are only three months in, that’s not good.  However, while this article is late, our Rock N Roll Breakfast was not.  We built the playlist, made good food, and even had some guests in town (Uncle Nate and Maddie G.) for the March edition of the Rock N Roll Breakfast.

Part of the challenge this month can be blamed on the music itself or my inability to pick music that the kids would connect with this time around.  Is that really so surprising though?  We’ve gone from the footloose and fancy free songs of the 50’s and early 60’s to much heavier and darker material in the last half of the 60’s.  This music is a challenge, but our journey to today’s music most definitely requires crossing this bridge.  We have an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old, and an (almost) 6-month-old, so, I can’t really explain to them what a lot of these songs are about, but I can explain that musicians and the people listening to them felt a need to express themselves differently.

The happenings and events of the 60’s gave that generation plenty to scream about.  Vietnam, the Draft, the Civil Rights Movement, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Kennedy, are topics that are too big for our kids and probably too big for me to teach.  When our oldest turns 18, it will have been 55 years since 1969.  It will be the distant past, but it is important history – much of which is captured in the music of the time. Dylan’s lyrics and the wailing of Jimmy’s guitar and Janis’s pipes help set the tone for learning about the 60’s.

This isn’t to say that the girls hated the music on our March Playlist, but out of the three lists to date, Continue reading


February 2014 Playlist – Early, Non-Beatles 60’s

For our second Rock N Roll Breakfast, we thought it would be best to move from the 50’s to the 60’s.  Simple enough; however, the 60’s couldn’t be more complex as the decade started with chart toppers like “The Twist” and ended with #1 hits like “Come Together.”  Speaking of “Come Together,” The Beatles evolved from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to songs like “Come Together” and “A Day In The Life” – let’s save talk of The Beatles though, they will get their own RNR Breakfast.  Here are the Billboard #1 songs of throughout the 60’s of course, pop music dominates the list as it always has and always will, but as you look at the list you see the change of the times.  Musicians of the 60’s brought us doo-wop, surf rock, psychedelic rock, and, all-in-all, just some of the greatest music ever created.

So, the 60’s warrants being broken down into at least two RNR Breakfasts.  Focusing this month’s playlist on the early, more lighthearted music makes more sense coming out of the 50’s.  You need a bit of a segue between “Rock Around The Clock” (released in 1954) and “My Generation” (released in 1965).  You can hear the influences of the 50’s in the rock of the 60’s, but eventually it’s like comparing the internet of the 90’s to what we have today – similar, but not the same.

What do we have for you this month?  Rachel and I worked on breaking this list down with some tips from the kids too.  Since I want the kids to enjoy these little lessons, I’m focusing more on music that they will enjoy as opposed to what is necessarily the most important.  Hopefully, if the right seeds are planted, they’ll dig this stuff on their own and will find the important songs and artists.  Also, I hope they decide for themselves what is good and what is important.  Can’t just take Dad’s word for it…not that I expect Dad’s word to be too much of an authority over time.  Thank goodness the teen years are a while away!  Sorry for digressing…the list!

  1. “The Twist” – Chubby Checker
  2. “Little Latin Lupe Lu” – The Righteous Brothers
  3. “Be My Baby” – The Ronnettes
  4. “Surf City” – Jan and Dean
  5. “Runaway” – Del Shannon
  6. “Blue Moon” – The Marcels
  7. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – The Beachboys
  8. “God Only Knows” – The Beachboys
  9. “River Deep Mountain High” – Ike & Tina Turner
  10. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King

Hope doing the “twist.”


“The Twist” is one of the biggest hits of all time and was released in 1960 – that felt like a great starter for this list.  The kids loved it.

“Little Latin Lupe Lu” is truly a classic throughout the world and in the world of my wife’s family.  My father-in-law, who is easily the world’s greatest father-in-law and one of the world’s nicest and best people, loves this song.  At every wedding in my wife’s family – on both sides – this song is always played to see her Dad break it down with his patented criss-cross move.  That man is in his 60’s and just the thought of doing the criss-cross makes me wheeze!  Basically, you jump and criss-cross your legs at the same time – it may sound easy, but it’s high energy…just like my father-in-law.

“Be My Baby” – co-written by Phil Specter and produced using his “wall of sound”technique.  “‘No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared ‘Be My Baby’ the greatest pop record ever made — no arguments here.'” Not to mention, Eddie Money was later inspired to include the line “be my little baby” in his hit jam “Take Me Home Tonight” – yep, now that’s in your head (“just like Ronnie said, be my little babaaaaaay”).

What’s next, “Surf City” – gotta love the surf rock.  “Surf City” is a fun song and one that is easy to think would be a Beach Boys hit, but it’s Jan and Dean.  Our girls really got into Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie ( this summer – actually, they still love it.  So, I thought “Surf City” was a surefire hit and I was right.  Although, I had to convince my daughter that it was an old song and not from Teen Beach Movie.

“Runaway” – a #1 hit in 1961 and #472 on Rolling Stone’s 2010 list of the greatest 500 songs of all time.

“Blue Moon” – the opening “ba wit da ba da dang a dang dang” line got the kids laughing.  I remember hearing that song during the summer when Kid Rock’s “Ba Wit Da Ba” came out and realizing that’s where those words come from.  You don’t get doo wop hits from the 60s sampled too often.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” – I know, it would be best not to use the same artist more than once on each list, but the Beach Boys are deserving, and my daughter Leah really loves “God Only Knows.”  Both of these songs are personal all-time favorites.  How could you not put “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” on your greatest songs ever list?  Our buddy Andy has it on his top 12 – not sure exactly where, but top 12 is very high praise from him.

“River Deep Mountain High” – another Phil Specter produced classic.  The Queen of Rock N Roll holds a very special place in our family’s musical lineup.  After watching the biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It? Rachel and I were hooked as Tina fans.  When we were 19, we saw her in concert in 1997 with Cindi Lauper opening.  It was memorable because Tina was incredible and because even though we were at a concert where we were easily the youngest people there by a good 20 years, we still smelled pot in the air, which was funny.  It was good for the kids to hear such an early Tina track to give them some background for one of our family theme songs “Simply the Best”.

Finally, we have “Stand By Me” – Rachel’s favorite song.  Bringing my father-in-law back in, this is also the song that Rachel danced to with him at our wedding.  In classic Fred style, he still couldn’t help but ham it up, which was awesome.  You really can’t beat the classics like my father-in-law and my wife and the song “Stand By Me.”

That’s the RNR Breakfast playlist for February 2014.  We hope you enjoy it!

The 60’s (Non-Beatles Part A) – February 2014

Today’s Breakfast: Rachel’s ROCK ‘N’ Breakfast CasseROLL and to make sure I drive the rock n roll theme home we also had ROCK ‘N’ Cinnamon ROLLs, which were homemade, but not by our home.

IMG_5893 IMG_5888

Enjoy the music.  Share your thoughts.  See you soon.

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Writing RNR Breakfast Post #1 was fun, so, I’m going to write more in between our breakfast sections.

Not too much to this post except to recommend Band Of Horses new album Acoustic At The Ryman. This album is a great collection of some of BOH’s best, and it sounds like they were made to be performed acoustic.  One of rock’s greatest opening guitar riffs is replaced by piano on The Funeral, which plays out even more hauntingly in this acoustic setting.  It’s hard to skip a track on this album, but if you want some highlights to check out first, go with:  The Funeral, No One’s Gonna Love You, Detlef Schrempf, Fatory, and Neighbor.  At that point, you’ll have previewed half the album, so, you may as well check out the other five songs.

Don’t just take my word for it. Preview Acoustic At The Ryman here (big thanks to Band of Horses for streaming the album):

After you preview it, go out and buy it.  In fact do yourself a favor and buy it from an actual record store.  Take time while you’re there to look at the records and talk to the shop workers.  It’ll take you back to a time before big box stores and the internet.  You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll smile.

By the way, how great would it be to live in Nashville and have access to shows at The Ryman, surprise performances at The Bluebird, and great live music to see every day?


Begin The Begin

Hello.  Over time I’ll probably share a little more about myself and my family, but to get things started with this blog, I’m the Dad in a very happy family of 5.  My wife and I found each other in high school and one of the reasons we’ve always been best friends is our shared appreciation of great Rock music – especially live in person.  We have three little ones – two cute, smart, and creative little girls (ages 8 and 5) and a beautiful little 3 month old boy.  I am impressed with our girls’ taste in music – my oldest ones regularly request Arcade Fire and they are huge fans of The Killers.  We don’t rule out Disney of course – kids need to be kids.  We also don’t rule out pop music – we want our kids to be open to all kinds of music and to find the good in it.  My life seems to have come with a soundtrack, and I want to share it with my family.  The kids may not like every song we play (I’m not foolish enough to think that I will always be cool…or ever was), but hopefully, they’ll hear these songs someday and laugh and make fun of their Mom and Dad or find a way to smile on a hard day or find just the right song to celebrate a great moment.  These organized noises and words are more than just songs, they are part of the fabric of our family.  I want our kids to create their own soundtracks – with a few dedications to Mom and Dad and a shout out to us in the liner notes.

So, what are we doing here?  Well, the Z Family is going on a “musical journey” (wink, wink U2 fans) to explore the history of Rock N Roll one breakfast a month.  The 4th Saturday of every month, we will have a new playlist ready to go focusing on that month’s theme – it could be a particular time in Rock, or it could be all about a certain style, or it just might be dedicated to one particular artist/band.  I’m kind of winging this first R’N’R Breakfast, but I hope to develop some cool themes – find out interesting tidbits about the artists that our kids would like and maybe tie our breakfasts to the theme (doh! why didn’t I make peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches in honor of Elvis?!).  I am making a playlist for each month on Spotify (although I think it won’t be possible with The Beatles – unless we go with tributes).

To get this train rolling, we need to get on-board first, which means we need to start at the beginning…the 50’s.  Sure, we could go back a little further to the jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, country & western, opera, symphonic, etc., basically all music that inspired and led up to Rock N Roll, but this is the Rock N Roll Breakfast, not the Complete Guide to All of Music Breakfast.

So, where do we start?  Everyone knows The King, and of course, we will get to him today, but first, let’s look at the guy who my Dad saw in concert (perhaps the only rock concert he ever attended) and who he claims truly came first in Rock.  That man is Bill Haley.  In 1953, Bill & His Comets were the first to chart a rock song with “Crazy, Man, Crazy”.  They followed that up with a cover of Big Joe Turner’s “Shake Rattle & Roll” and, of course, their biggest hit “Rock Around The Clock.”  All three are on today’s playlist.

Up next, the one and only Chuck Berry with “Jonny B. Goode”.  That song is just hard to beat as one of the greatest rockers of all time.  We follow up with Jerry Lee Lewis rocking the piano on “Great Balls of Fire” and Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue”.  I’ve always loved these three songs for their great tempo and rhythm.  Wouldn’t it be cool if rock n roll could still be so fun?

Finally, we get to Elvis Presley with “Hound Dog” “Teddy Bear” “In the Ghetto” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.  I knew the kids would love the first two songs.  “In the Ghetto” is my favorite song by The King and I know my wife is in love with “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

That’s the playlist for Rock N Roll Breakfast #1:

(1) “Crazy, Man, Crazy”; (2) “Rock Around the Clock”; (3) “Shake Rattle & Roll”; (4) “Johnny B Goode”; (5) “Great Balls of Fire”; (6) “Peggy Sue”; (7) “Hound Dog”; (8) “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”; (9) “In The Ghetto”; and (10) “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

Whether you use Spotify or Pandora or still like to buy records from a store (I really miss the excitement of opening a cd for the first time, putting it into the player and pressing play…not as romantic as vinyl, but still), take the time to listen to these songs.  Go beyond with all of these artists and their contemporaries, and then listen to one of your modern favorites and try to draw a line back to these forefathers of Rock.

Oh yeah, for breakfast, we had pancakes – Daddy Style, which means I buttered them hot and sprinkled brown sugar.  Combine that with more butter and maple syrup, and you’ve got one sweet start to the day.  That’s ok, my family is sweet and they certainly deserve a treat.

See you next month.