April 28, 2010

WE GOT SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW TODAY...:

Bing Crosby, Beyond His Greatest Hits (WILL FRIEDWALD, 4/28/10, WSJ)

Bing Crosby wasn't the single most important figure in 20th century popular music—and, in particular, the most influential singer of the great American songbook—it's difficult to know who would be. He cast a giant shadow over the entire landscape of American music, touching upon the pop icons who followed him (Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles all paid their respects) and into the worlds of jazz, rhythm and blues, and country music. There's even a famous calypso record dedicated in his honor.

The impact of Crosby (1903-1977) upon American culture was enormous—a sea change that was both musical and technological. He was the first major pop vocalist to incorporate the swinging rhythms and improvisatory essence of the new American music called jazz into his singing, which, in turn, allowed him to bring a hitherto unheard casualness and intimacy to American pop. He also was the first vocalist to fully fathom the equation of the new electronic media: electrical recording, radio and sound film. His mastery of these forms empowered him to become the biggest musical star of the Depression and World War II eras—and an inspiration for generations of performers and singers, including Sinatra.

Heard today, Crosby's warm, mellifluous baritone is still as engaging and moving as ever. If Crosby is less a part of the discussion than he should be, it's partly the fault of the organizations that control the rights to his performances. While the estates of Sinatra and Presley have taken steps to make sure the catalogs of these iconic artists remain accessible, the only Crosby music that has been readily available in the three decades since the singer's death were Christmas albums and basic greatest-hits collections.

That situation, at last, is starting to change.


...and the local radio station played "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." His voice is so smooth and rich it was like being dunked in warm caramel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2010 1:39 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE PIGOVIAN IMPERATIVE: | Main | NATURE HERSELF SUFFICES: »