ECHOES FROM THE (V)ALLEY

tin_pan_alley_plaque

In my last post (NOTES FROM THE ALLEY), I touched on TIN PAN ALLEY’s origins and location, but failed to mention where the name came from. For that, I quote from another book, FROM SAGINAW VALLEY TO TIN PAN ALLEY by R. Grant Smith:

On a summer day in New York City, just before 1900, songwriter and journalist Monroe Rosenfeld walked down West 28th Street, on the way to his publisher, to demonstrate a new song he had written. As he passed the rows of music publishing houses, clustered together and piled on top of each other, he heard the sounds of hundreds of pianos, playing hundreds of pieces of music, pouring out of the open windows. The tumultuous noise reminded him of tin pans clanging together.
Later that day, when Rosenfeld returned to his typewriter at the New York Herald, he wrote an article about what he had just experienced, referring to the area he had visited as “Tin Pan Alley.” This name would remain synonymous with the popular music publishing industry in America for the next sixty years.

Think of THE GOLDEN AGE OF POPULAR MUSIC (which includes the storied Roaring Twenties) as TIN PAN ALLEY writ large, a coast-to-coast cacophony of sounds impossible to paint a complete picture of in these few sketches — but my hope is to convey at least a feel for the era….principally with clips of songs written and performed by composers and artists like those featured in the previous post. Picking up where we left off in 1921, I’ll resist the urge to test your forbearance with a 1922 triumph of treacle titled GRANNY, YOU’RE MY MAMMY’S MAMMY (I kid you not), and go instead with 1922 and 1923 hits about guys named Harry and Barney:

Skipping past such 1924/25 doozies as DOODLE DOO DOO and DOO WACKA DOO, we come to 1926, a banner year for songs that became all-time standards, including one that a very young Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers blew out of the water — “The name of this song is DINAH”:

Now we’re on a roll — here’s another 1926 standard, played by it’s Hart-less composer:

But what’s a Richard Rodgers composition minus Lorenz Hart lyrics? It’s like romance expressed without a word, as proposed in another of their 1926 songs (1:40 into this clip):

Hart died (tragically young) in the month of November, but many great Golden Age songwriters were born in this month, including Harry Woods, who began writing hits (like “I’m Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover”) in the early 1920s….however, I’m going to jump ahead here with one of his lesser known songs from the 1930s — repeat, the 1930s:

(TO BE CONTINUED at least ONE MORE TIME)

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10 comments on “ECHOES FROM THE (V)ALLEY

  1. arekhill1 says:

    I’m a punk rock fan myself, Sr. Muse. But history needs to be tended by historians like yourself.

    Like

  2. mistermuse says:

    Perhaps six music clips in one post was too much of a good thing, even for those who are open to the oldies, Ricardo….so how about some history-making political news: Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, has just elected a new mayor — a two-year old pit bull named Brynn — to succeed Lucy Lou, the border collie whose bid for President went up in smoke months ago. It’s been a bad year for females running for the White House.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carmen says:

    You mean we were watching Alfalfa in the 60’s and he was already over 30 years old?? 😉 That was certainly a blast from the past. ..

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Carmen, I remember watching the Keystone Kops on TV in the 60’s when they were already 50 years old, so if Alfalfa was a blast from the past, the madcap Kops were an indignity from antiquity! 🙂

      Like

  4. Don Frankel says:

    Great stuff Muse. Roger’s first song or one of his first. And of course Alfalfa. I remember that scene from when I was a kid.

    Like

  5. mistermuse says:

    Thanks, Don. I own a biography of Rodgers (titled SOMEWHERE FOR ME) which shows that his first published songs go back as far as 1919, however BLUE ROOM was certainly one of his first HIT songs (after MANHATTAN, written in 1925).

    Like

  6. Can’t beat Bing, in my book….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lots of music! Most from before my time but I remember them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mistermuse says:

    Thank you, Diana. In a certain sense, if you remember them, they’re not before your time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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