1930 . . . the end of a wonderful decade

1930 . . . the end of a wonderful decade

Ken Bristow
Ken Bristow

September 10th, 2010, 12:14 pm #1

Eighty years ago on the 15th September 1930, Hoagy and the boys completed take two of "Bessie couldn't help it" at Victor Records. So ended Bix's six years spent in the recording studios, many of those recordings becoming classic examples of his beautiful tone, style and sound. He ended the final two takes of "Bessie" with a blazing hot ride out of eight bars as if to tell the world, "So there you are folks, that's it". Although he wasn't aware at the time that it was going to be his last record. Bix was a product of his time, of the rowdy, rip roaring Jazz Age. The bobbed hair styles, the short skirts, a carefree decade that ushered the world into modern times. The younger set dancing the Charleston to their wind-up portable gramophone on the sandy beach at Atlantic City, possibly with one of Bix's recordings on the turntable. However, come the Wall Street Crash, and such times were gone forever.
Today, few of us were even born then, although most of us, given the chance, would have loved to have been around at the time! Looking back, we regard those years as the real "Good old days". Modern and popular music has changed over the time, some good, and some not so. But the late English playwright Alan Plater, who wrote the Beiderbecke triology for television, summed it up neatly. His view was that civilisation as we knew it came to an end with the arrival of Bill Haley and the Comets.
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Glenda Childress
Glenda Childress

September 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm #2

Ken, I'm not sure about Bill Haley's being the end of civilization, but you are right about "Bessie, Take 2" being the end of something of great value. There was still plenty of good jazz to be made in the years ahead, and had Bix kept his gifts intact, he could have added much to it.
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Alberta
Alberta

September 11th, 2010, 11:04 am #3

Eighty years ago on the 15th September 1930, Hoagy and the boys completed take two of "Bessie couldn't help it" at Victor Records. So ended Bix's six years spent in the recording studios, many of those recordings becoming classic examples of his beautiful tone, style and sound. He ended the final two takes of "Bessie" with a blazing hot ride out of eight bars as if to tell the world, "So there you are folks, that's it". Although he wasn't aware at the time that it was going to be his last record. Bix was a product of his time, of the rowdy, rip roaring Jazz Age. The bobbed hair styles, the short skirts, a carefree decade that ushered the world into modern times. The younger set dancing the Charleston to their wind-up portable gramophone on the sandy beach at Atlantic City, possibly with one of Bix's recordings on the turntable. However, come the Wall Street Crash, and such times were gone forever.
Today, few of us were even born then, although most of us, given the chance, would have loved to have been around at the time! Looking back, we regard those years as the real "Good old days". Modern and popular music has changed over the time, some good, and some not so. But the late English playwright Alan Plater, who wrote the Beiderbecke triology for television, summed it up neatly. His view was that civilisation as we knew it came to an end with the arrival of Bill Haley and the Comets.
...to be white, male, rich, and American. For most others, well, I'm not so sure. As a female, I'd give anything to time-travel to that period, provided I could be guaranteed a ride back.
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Jon Pytko
Jon Pytko

September 11th, 2010, 10:37 pm #4

An interesting comment, Alberta. I might posit that the 1917-early 30's period in America represented a significant advance for women in terms of equality, compared to the first fifteen years of the century. If the Depression had not deepened to such an extent by 1932, perhaps women would be about thirty years' further along than they are now.

We know that, despite WWII and the whole Rosie the Riveter phenomenon, that once American troops returned, gains made in the twenties were squashed by the lovely Baby Boom and not revisited until the late 1960's.

De gustibus non est disputatus, even in historical interests, but I feel to see the merit of the post-war world in terms of how it undid gains that women were starting to make several decades before. The very existence of the June Cleaver stereotype, for example, does not come from such a far distant period as that of the music that we love on this forum, but from the much more recent 1950's.
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Richard Iaconelli
Richard Iaconelli

September 12th, 2010, 4:43 am #5

The popular historian David McCullough I believe, refers to "presentism" as the hubris in people of today in thinking they live in superior times, and therefore are superior to the people of the past.

It's as if Lincoln would have fretted over having to give an address at Gettyburg because nobody would be there with an iphone app to record it.

There is always the issue of the "rich white guy" though he may have made up 1/1000th per cent of the population. Most white guys, or just guys, went to war, worked at filthy jobs, provided for their families, and died young. They were men to be respected.

I think one could make a good argument that Americans in the 1900-1933 era were a tougher and more courageous people. They lived thru mass poverty, a world war, a mass influenza, and a financial collapse. They persevered. What's not to admire? And they created great art, jazz, film, theater, fiction, despite so little chance for education.

And what have we created...Lady Gaga. Frankly, I'll take Connie Boswell, who did pretty well from a pre-feminist wheelchair, and with no ipod.



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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 12th, 2010, 1:09 pm #6


Sometimes it is good to give specific examples of what the white, male generation went through in 1900-1930. Take my father. He was born in 1892 in Smyrna (Izmir) Turkey. When he was 13 , my grandfather gave him stuff to sell, put him on a horse and sent him to nearby towns to sell what he could. Drafted during WWI. Got married in 1925 and had his first two children in 1926 and 1928, both born in Smyrna. By 1930, he thought that Turkey was not a good place to raise a family. He looked around and decided to emigrate to France. One of the reasons was that he and my mother, as Sephardic Jews living in Turkey, went to a school known as Alliance Francaise Israelite. There he learned French and religion. So moving to France made sense since he knew the language, though he spoke it with a marked accent. My father's education ended with elementary school.  Imagine a foreigner arriving in Paris in 1930, no education, a wife and two children to provide for. He scraped a living again as a salesman. A third child (me) arrived in 1931. The depression was hitting Europe. Hitler in Germany was accelerating his anti-Jewish campaign. And there was quite a bit of anti-semitism in France, too. By the mid 1930s, my father decided that France was not a good place to raise a family and emigrated to Uruguay, a Spanish-speaking country. Again the language was a decisive factor. As Sephardic jews (expelled from Spain by the inquisition in 1492, but kept Spanish as their language at home), my father and mother spoke ladino (also known as judesmo), an old form of Spanish. So moving to Uruguay had the advantage that they spoke the language, again with a marked accent. The 1930s were a very difficult period for us (and most people in the world). My father was a salesman and I clearly remember my mother asking my father every day when he came home after a long, exhausting day walking from retailer to retailer, carrying a heavy suitcase,  trying to sell whatever he could, "How much did you earn today?" Some days it was nothing. My mother's father had been a reasonably successful business man in Smyrna and my mother had nice jewelry. As time went by and money was needed to pay for rent and food, she kept selling her jewelry. The political situation in Europe was getting worse and worse, and finally in 1939 war erupted. Well, I don't need to go into details. Several of you were alive during WW II and remember all the agonies of war.

So the life of my father was typical of millions of men (white and poor) in the 1900-1940 period. Basically, all he did most of his life was work and raise a family, always worrying where the next meal was going to come from and how to scrape a few pesos to pay for the rent, no time for music, cinema, vacations, etc. I am sure many of you have similar stories about your parents or grandparents, struggling to scrape a living in the first decades of the 20th century. Not every white male lived a life of song and dance. Most white males who lived in the first few decades of the 20th century were poor and had pretty miserable lives: all they did was work and raise families; most ot them are dead or have been forgotten, but to their children and families, they were real heroes. My sister became a secretary, my brother an electrical engineer and mathematician, and yours truly a professor of chemistry; we have my dad, a white, poor male living a really tough life in the first decades of the 20th century, to thank for that.

Forgive the reminiscences of an old man.

Albert
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Glenda Childress
Glenda Childress

September 12th, 2010, 1:47 pm #7

An interesting comment, Alberta. I might posit that the 1917-early 30's period in America represented a significant advance for women in terms of equality, compared to the first fifteen years of the century. If the Depression had not deepened to such an extent by 1932, perhaps women would be about thirty years' further along than they are now.

We know that, despite WWII and the whole Rosie the Riveter phenomenon, that once American troops returned, gains made in the twenties were squashed by the lovely Baby Boom and not revisited until the late 1960's.

De gustibus non est disputatus, even in historical interests, but I feel to see the merit of the post-war world in terms of how it undid gains that women were starting to make several decades before. The very existence of the June Cleaver stereotype, for example, does not come from such a far distant period as that of the music that we love on this forum, but from the much more recent 1950's.
Jon, don't be too hard on the "lovely Baby Boom(ers)" either. They had no choice about being born into the post-war period when there was a tsunami of pent-up desire--for marriage, long deferred for many by the war, family life, and goods long unavailable. We forget that returning servicemen came home to initially very high unemployment and it was considered patriotic for "Rosie" to give up her hard-earned job to one of "our boys." Perhaps that was a mistake in the long haul, but as a short-term choice certainly an understandable one.

And BTW, the fictional June Cleaver would have been herself a product of the Jazz Age, "born" sometime between 1915 and 1930, and in reality was portrayed by a professional "working woman," an actor who was trying to make a career with the work available.

There was much female energy and talent lost to the world, of course, and world wide, there still is, because of custom and social policy. But people in every time have their own battles to fight, as Albert points out in his comment, and like Bix, like Louis, and like Connie, they did what they could with the hand they were dealt.

Lady Gaga doesn't represent us all, you know.
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Alberta
Alberta

September 12th, 2010, 3:53 pm #8

now I see I'm gonna have to find out just who Lady Gaga is.

As a Boomer, I take no responsibility whatsoever for the alleged vanishing of alleged rights those lucky (rich, white) flappers allegedly had. I mean, the really significant stuff like wearing skirts above the knee and smoking in public did not disappear for long anyway after the 20s!

Privileged women have always had a place in society, as have the exceptionally talented and exceptionally driven. It's how those of us with average or below average skills, wealth, motivation and looks fare which matters, because it indicates the state of society as a whole. And those of us in this non-illustrious category are way better off, from my reading of history, NOW than at any time in living memory. And it's not because we are superior to those who went before us! It's cause we are lucky, and for the most part are enjoying rent-free the achievements of those who went before us!



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Brad Kay
Brad Kay

September 14th, 2010, 9:47 am #9

I've seen a couple of Lady Gaga performances, and whether you like her act or not, she's the hardest-working woman in show biz today. I defy anyone on this forum - or anywhere! - to get on a stage, put out as much energy, and keep an arena crowd spellbound for two hours. And her stuff is outrageous and original. Anyone with the chutzpah to put their art on the line like that gets my respect, no matter what form it takes.
It's the people who have talent and do nothing with it that burn my biscuits.

Brad K
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Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

September 14th, 2010, 4:02 pm #10


Rather ironically, the adverse reaction towards Lady Gaga exactly mirrors that of older generations and the media in general towards the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, when their outrageous energetic efforts were derided as the unmusical noise of youth at the end of the First World War.

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