Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Some Boogie Woogie & Some Sinatra

Growing up in the Sixties, I remember that my folks played a lot of music. Dad worked for RCA then and had some wonderful stereo equipment. They played their old 78s and then the LPs of the music they had grown up with. Rock 'N Roll was not on the playlist. But what was on the playlist was some wonderful music. It isn't like we kids were unaware of the Rock 'N Roll scene, but we didn't hear it at home. Grown-ups run things, don'cha know? And I have to confess I missed out on not one thing.

So my Sibs and I listened to Sinatra and Glenn Miller, Jo Stafford and Bing Crosby. We were infused with Classical music and Nat King Cole. As we grew a tad older we were allowed to buy 45s of "our" music and play them - at a lower volume than everybody else! - and we were given transistor radios to use - my brother managed to drop his in the toilet (Tim has these accidents; we're all surprised he survived his youth!) and destroy it - so we joined the Rock generation at last. But I had been touched - or tetched - with an enjoyment of earlier forms of music that I've never lost. For that I am so thankful!

In fact, the very first LP that I can recall receiving as a gift from my parents was not Swing Band or Classical, nor even tepid Rock 'N Roll. It was "The World of Johnny Cash"! A country music album! Imagine that! And I loved it. Was a time when I knew all those songs by heart - though I may have missed some of the lyrics - and would sing them while I mowed the lawn. What else you gonna do while laboring under the summer sun, cutting grass? Dance the Frug? I was 14 or 15 and I didn't care about the Rock Generation or bell-bottom pants.

So I had an eclectic upbringing in Music, as well as Art, and I think it made me more accepting of new music forms and styles than a lot of people. (But I will not listen to Rap! This truly sucks! Fuggedaboudit!)

This is Frank Sinatra near the beginning of his career. His voice is just starting to acquire the bourbon and cigarette tone that we recognize from later works. But the voice remains clear and sweet. And this is one of those 78 records that I remember. This is such a nice song I have never forgotten it. Give it a spin. It's called "If You Are But A Dream" and was written by Moe Jaffe, Jack Fulton, and Nat Bonx. Lyrics follow! Then scroll down some more - there's a little more music to go!

A young Frank Sinatra

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"If You Are But A Dream"
~ by Jaffe, Fulton, and Bonx

If you are but a dream
I hope I never waken,
It's more than I could bear
To find that I'm forsaken.

If you're a fantasy
Then I'm content to be
In love with lovely you,
And pray my dream comes true.

I long to kiss you
But I would not dare,
I'm so a-fraid that
You may vanish in the air,

So darling,
If our romance would break up,
I hope I never wake up,
If you are but a dream.

Tommy DorseyNow, part of the Big Band or Swing Band repertoire was the form of music called Boogie Woogie. We sort of forget about it, or expect it was a minor song or two from the era. But it was a popular way to write a tune. The 30s and 40s saw this come to the fore for a bit. Like so much of the early popular music of the 20Th Century, this was developed by, or credited to, black Americans. Among the boogie woogie songs I've listened to, though, my favorite one is by Tommy Dorsey and his band. It's called simply "T.D.'s Boogie Woogie". What could be simpler?

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The sounds are very early 20Th Century, aren't they? I love the way this prowls around, yelling, then tip-toeing, circling around demanding that you get up and swing! Just magnificent! Then you have that quiet little piano line, a shout, and then some silence to let you gather yourself before you're off again.

Meade 'Lux' LewisFrom Colin Davey:
Boogie woogie piano is a dynamic, colorful music form with an equally colorful history. Beginning as dance music for poor southern blacks, boogie woogie became a national craze when Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis performed at Carnegie Hall in 1938. It has had a major influence on blues, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, and pop, yet it has been widely neglected in the history books and is frequently misunderstood.

Boogie woogie is often confused with ragtime and stride piano. However, unlike these early jazz styles, it is defined by its blues structure, fast pace, and driving, repetitive eight-to-the-bar bass line. Although boogie woogie has been played by big bands and small ensembles, at its heart, it is a solo piano style.

Okay, I may not be able to describe what this music does in way that makes sense, but I can certainly feel it. What about you? One of my favorites, and one of the best. Enjoy!


WomanHonorThyself said...

now I feel like dancin!
wanna dance? :)

Joubert said...

The only CDs I collect are classical and pre-50s music so I can relate to this completely not being a fan of rock or anything much since the 60s.

Anonymous said...

I never could stand Sinatra.

benning said...

I know, Camo, and some folks feel the same. Me, I can't stand listening to Tony Bennett. Nice guy, mind you, but I just can't take his singing.

Anonymous said...

By all accounts, Sinatra wasn't even a nice guy.

As for his "singing", it sounds more like talking to music from my perspective; maybe he was the first "Rap" artist...