Aug 14, 2012
Michael R. Drew & Roy H. Williams
Let’s look at the final six years leading up to the zenith of the “We” back in the 1930s as the once-beautiful dream of “working together for the common good” becomes Duty, Obligation and Sacrifice.
You know what happens when the era evolves? Although we try to do the right thing in a “We,” we also whine and moan about it.
Notice how the #1 songs each year reminisce wistfully about happier days.
#1. “Begin The Beguine,” performed by Artie Shaw (words and music by Cole Porter) — “And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted, I know but too well what they mean.”
MESSAGE: Yesterday was better than today.
* * *
#1. “Over The Rainbow,” performed by Judy Garland (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) — “And wake up where the clouds are far behind me, / Where troubles melt like lemon drops…”
MESSAGE: Other places are better than this place.
* * *
#1. “Frenesi,” performed by Artie Shaw (music by Alberto Dominiguez, lyrics by Leonard Whitcup and others). — “Sometimes I wonder why I spend / The lonely night dreaming of a song.”
MESSAGE: I’m sad and it makes my heart dark.
* * *
#1. Chattanooga Choo Choo,” performed by Glenn Miller (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon) — “Chattanooga choo choo / Won’t you choo choo me home?”
MESSAGE: I’m gettin’ outta here and goin’ to a better place.
* * *
#1. “White Christmas,” performed by Bing Crosby (words and music by Irving Berlin) — “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know.”
* * *
#1. Paper Doll, performed by the Mills Brothers (words and music by Johnny S. Black, actually written during an earlier cycle, in 1915, but never published until 1930) — “I’d rather have a Paper Doll to call my own / Than have a fickle-minded real live girl.”
MESSAGE: Someone did me wrong.
The songs that hit home during each cycle are the songs that, in retrospect, help define the mood of that cycle. We look to artists to help us understand – we look to the alpha voices.
Now, although we live in an age of iTunes when everyone creates his or her individual playlists, the songs of even our digital age reflect a “we” sensibility. Are there any hits that you feel speak to what we’re going through at this moment? (The number-one song in the U.S last year was Adele’s “Someone Like You,” in case you needed reminding…)
Thanks for sharing.