Category Archives: Music

Look for the Helpers and Smile

English: Portrait of Charlie Chaplin

English: Portrait of Charlie Chaplin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today would have been Charles Chaplin’s 124th birthday.  To millions all over the world, he was a comedic genius.  To me, he was not.  And when I planned my post for today, I was going to list all the reasons why I feel he was (and still is) the most overrated celebrity in film history.

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday afternoon changed my plans.  In the wake of that horrible event, I felt that such a post would be extremely inappropriate.

Instead of spitting venom, I want to do my part in spreading a little hope.  And honor the helpers among us.  The brave souls from Boston and everywhere who risk their lives daily during tragedy and what may seem like non-events to the rest of the world deserve nothing less than our respect. Continue reading

1930s Musical Magic

English: Warner Bros. publicity photo for the ...

A publicity still for The Jazz Singer (1927), the forerunner of the 1930s musical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 1930s were trying times here in America.  The Great Depression dug its claws into every aspect of American life, destroying the American dream and leaving millions jobless, homeless, and hopeless.

People escaped the harsh reality of the world through literature, music, and film.  Hollywood studios at the time had the brilliant idea to combine the later two…and the musical film was born. Continue reading

Beatles Songs that Bring You Back to the 1920s

My friend, author and educator James L. Neibaur, is writing a book on the campy, kooky, and fun Elvis movies. (Can’t wait to read that one, Jim!)  During his promotion of the book, he is posting a lot of Elvis-related things on Facebook.

One of the things he posted was a video of Paul McCartney singing “That’s All Right Mama” with guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana. (Scotty’s guitar work was on the original track, and D.J. worked with Elvis at RCA and Sun.)

You are probably thinking, “That’s all fine and good, but what do Elvis and Paul McCartney singing Elvis have to do with Beatles songs that bring you back to the 1920s?”

Well…nothing, really, other than the fact it inspired me to write this post when all my other ideas were falling flat.  A bonus is that my dear friend Jim gets some free promotion for his book!

When you think of the Beatles, you think of bowl haircuts, Ed Sullivan, and hysterical teenage girls. Right? The 1920s rarely, if ever, spring to mind.

However, there are a few Beatles songs buried in their long list of classic hits that will take you back to the Jazz Age. Continue reading

Al Jolson: The Man Behind the Blackface

Entertainer Al Jolson, in blackface with monoc...

Entertainer Al Jolson, in blackface with monocle, walking stick, and derby hat, smoking a cigarette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you see an old image of a performer in blackface, what immediately comes to mind?  Racism?  Unfair stereotypes?  Hate?

Does the mere sight of a person in blackface make you cringe and thank your lucky stars you live in an age where that sort of thing is no longer socially acceptable?

When you see an image of the old singer/actor/all-around entertainer Al Jolson, do you see a hateful man who became rich and famous by making fun of the struggles of countless blacks throughout history?  He was just another minstrel, right?

Wrong…

Al Jolson was more than “just a minstrel”. In fact, he was not a minstrel at all. Continue reading

Oh Baby, Won’t You Play Me Le Jazz Hot, Maybe

Julie Andrews Le Jazz Hot

Le Jazz Hot Julie Andrews

If you are anything like me, when you think of the 1920s and 1930s, one of the first things that comes to your mind is the excellent jazz music released in those decades, is it not?

I’m willing to wager that at least one of you out there reading this is humming “Le Jazz Hot” from Victor/Victoria and picturing Julie Andrews parading around a stage “pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman”.

Jazz took the world by storm and transformed the entire musical landscape in a way that no other music genre had—before it began or since.  It is a genre that speaks to generations and makes people get up and dance.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so on today’s post I am going to share with you some of the numbers I really appreciate.  Most of the compositions were written in, or influenced by, the 1920s and 1930s.  So sit back and enjoy the music! Continue reading