13-14 jan — back in the saddle
If you’ve been away from the site for a couple of weeks and came back today you might think I’d been doing very little in the interim. Not true. But progress has been slow due to some unexpected turns.
On the 28th of December I had my PC’s operating system become hopelessly infected, or so said the Dell software specialist who mistook some of the processes of my security software for a dangerous virus and recommended a reinstallation of the OS. So that was a good 7 hours wasted (about 3 of it with the Dell rep who first tried all manner of methods to rid me of a virus which didn’t even exist).
Two or three days later I accidentally deleted the entire site, thinking I was deleting another site with no content at all. About 1,000 hours of work down the drain I thought. But I spent my New Years Eve and most of the next day getting a start on the large job of reconstructing the site from Google caches. I actually found at least 90 percent of it. But all of the videos and all of the images were stripped. In 18 hours continuous hours of work I had gotten perhaps 15% of the site restored. I expected it might take up to another 100 hours of labor to complete the job. Most of the hard work still lay ahead, replacing hundreds of images and several hundred videos.
Amazingly, on 2 January I woke up to find that WordPress had restored the site to the point in time where I had deleted it. After doing a jig for an hour or two I promptly collapsed from exhaustion.
A few days after this I had a major plumbing breakdown, pipes beneath the floor of the apartment above began leaking into my kitchen cabinets and then slowly destroying my ceiling. The repair of the leak (replacing the ceiling is still to come) and a couple of other long-neglected refurnishing tasks have consumed a lot of my time and energy in the past several days.
I’ve also spent many hours recently revising previous pages and posts, sometimes expanding or enhancing them with additional images and videos. Please let me know if I missed any that desperately need attention.
Anyway I hope to get back on course shortly and begin work on some new pages that will keep you coming back for more. There are many special features I’d like to do in the weeks ahead. In addition to the ongoing “standards of the year” pages, some of the topics of features to come soon might be:
- The Cotton Club, a brief history
- The Rhythm Boys
- The Mills Brothers
- Bing Crosby singles with and without Paul Whiteman. One issue I’m facing is the fact that chart positions prior to 1940 are all fabricated. I previously reported dozens of top ten singles by Crosby in the early 30s. The Crosby discography at Wikipedia now has him scoring hits, including many top ten charters, as early as 1927. I haven’t decided what to do about these invented chart positions yet; probably best to ignore them entirely.
- Even though I’ve done several pages on Irving Berlin I haven’t provided a biography yet, or grouped standards and popular hits he composed.
- More feature pages on composers such as Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, and…
- On lyricists such as Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, and Johnny Mercer
- Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers & Hart: Especially focusing, for now, on such early hits as “Manhattan”, “Mountain Greenery” (from The Garrick Gaieties, 1925); “Thou Swell” (from A Connecticut Yankee, 1927);”You Took Advantage of Me” (from Present Arms, 1928); “Spring is Here” and “With a Song in My Heart” (from Spring Is Here, 1929); “Lover”, “Mimi”, “Isn’t It Romantic?”, (from Love Me Tonight-1932)…
- Early Cole Porter
Porter reintroduced himself to Broadway with the musical Paris (1928), which featured one of his greatest “list” songs, “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)”. Following this Gallic theme, his next show was Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929), which included several popular numbers including “You Do Something to Me” and “You’ve Got That Thing”. Finishing out the decade, opening on December 30, 1929, was Wake Up and Dream, with a score that included “What Is This Thing Called Love?”
He started the 1930s with the revue The New Yorkers (1930), which included a song about a streetwalker, “Love for Sale”. The lyric was considered too explicit for radio at the time (it was generally recorded as an instrumental), but has gone on to become a standard. Next came Fred Astaire’s last stage show, Gay Divorce (1932). It featured a hit that would become perhaps Porter’s best-known song, “Night and Day”.
- Rudy Vallée and the Connecticut Yankees
- The Boswell Sisters
- On the evolution of big bands: An overview of “pre-swing”* jazz era big bands led by such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Fletcher Henderson (featuring a majority of arrangements by Don Redman from 1922-27), Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway.
- Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields
- some early Hollywood musicals