One Musical Hoagy Please?




One Musical Hoagy Please?  This blog takes a look at the timing of American musical trends. It uses the songwriter, Hoagy Carmichael, to illustrate the point. In the past, dominant melody and then dominant rhythm have taken turns in ten year periods. Individual writers here and there have written melodic works in a rhythmic era and vice versa; but there has been a ten year rhythmic cycle in public taste.

Hoagy Carmichael’s Epoch Making Song-   Stardust
One Musical Hoagy Please?  Here’s the story.An effective way to gain some insight into these cycles involves the classic song, Stardust.  It was written in the late 1920’s by Hoagy Carmichael. Hoagy made a fortune with it because of the Great Depression which began in October of 1929.

Earlier, January of 1929, Joe walks downtown, he’s upbeat because “everything’s coming up roses.” He has plenty of money, a good looking dame and one of those new- fangled automobiles. He has a bounce in his gait and moves to the rhythm of the quick step song, “Five-Foot-Two”. The last thing he wants to hear is a long- winded beautiful melody. What a damper melody is!

The Great Depression hits, not only is Joe’s wallet empty, but he has lost his girlfriend, his auto and all his money invested in the stock market. Together with this loss, he no longer has his bouncy gait. He now walks depressed and slouches. In this state of affairs, when money does not cling to you anymore, melody will. A good tune stays in your head and gives you solace, a feeling of solidity and it consoles you. At that point rhythmic songs only add insult to injury; while melody heals. Enter Stardust!

No one would publish Hoagy’s Stardust before the Great Depression. He went everywhere and was unanimously turned down. Then, at the start of the ’30s it became a nationwide best seller. The moral of this story is no matter how wonderful your creation is, if the timing is wrong, nothing happens. Cling on to your values, to your ideals like Hoagy Carmichael; and though it may take decades, success will come.

One more word about the new direction of music in which songs of rhythm will take a backseat:  With the exception of a few composers, rhythmic songs have been in the driver’s seat for almost sixty years in defiance of this 10 year cycle. As melody will once more make its appearance, it will come back with a vengeance and for a great period of time.

Stay tuned to my blog for more on the epoch changing artistic times we are living in. Feel good because everything will be beautiful; music, plays, movies… and, oh yes, be sure to share my blogs with your friends.

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