American Song Book, Fads, and The Popular Standards

by Robbie Schlosser · 38 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.
=========================================================

Is there an American Song Book that passes the test of time?

What collection of American songs do most people recognize immediately, and love to sing with or dance to?  Familiar, easy to learn, and a treat to hear often?

Sure!  In fact, we have lots of collections fitting this description.  Looked at more broadly, maybe it’s really one big collection.  A few years ago I blogged about some of my own favorite songs: The Popular Standards.  More about that in a moment.

Name a few musical compositions you like.  Don’t they share many endearing similarities of form, style, origin, or historical background?  Perhaps you enjoy remembering the first time you heard them — the circumstances, place, performer, or who you were with?

I’m sure we all love some music and have our favorites.  Next question: Will these remain favorites for your lifetime, or just a few days, or something in between?

Many musical qualities influence whether a song becomes one of our personal “instant all-time classics” or else stays at the top of your list just briefly, to be replaced by the next catchy ditty we hear.

Today’s musical recording industry tries to catch us both ways.  First, by releasing a continuing torrent of short-lived “Top Hits” appealing to the fad zealots among us.  And second, by encouraging a steady flow of “revivals” of the major hits of yesteryear, appealing to the rest of us.

Of course, most of us enjoy some of both the old and the new.

Same with the musical concert industry, fashion industry, auto industry, movie industry, and TV program industry.  Like it or not, this list goes on.

Among my own favorite music is an enormous body of compositions, most of which were created by a relative small number of skilled songwriters in the early to mid 1900s.  The most successful of these songs have passed the test of time, and are now regarded as The Popular Standards.

The Magnolia Jazz Band plays many of these Popular Standards nearly every day.  Their personal appeal feels universal and timeless.  Hundreds of tunes like “Stardust”, “Blue Moon”, “Embraceable You”, “Moon River”, “Georgia On My Mind”, and “Satin Doll”.  Welcome to Karaoke Heaven!

“American Songbook” is the theme or title (more or less) of many recent programs of the Popular Standards recorded by Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Feinstein, and Linda Ronstadt, to name just a few well-known artists.  In addition, many music associations and recording companies have released hundreds of collections.

Magnolia Jazz Band likes Popular Standards

 

Interested to learn more?  Many books have described what makes these songs so wonderful, and one of my favorites is “Popular Standards”, written by pianist and entertainer Max Morath.  A quick read, it’s a fascinating introduction for musicians as well as fans.

 

 

CLICK here to tweet this post and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.



Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

By the way, does a friend need help selecting wedding or party music? Do them a favor: EMAIL this article, or SHARE it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

And if you find my blog useful, please LIKE it, TWEET it, and SUBSCRIBE for more ideas. Use those cute little icons below.

Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

If you like this post...

| More

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna McCord

Even though most of the Popular Standards were most popular either before I was born or when I was very young, I still love listening to those songs — they are much more enjoyable to me than most of what I might hear of the current music. Although there are still some good songs out there, mainly ones that my daughter introduces me to — she tends to like the music of the “unknown” bands and singers that the mainstream has not heard of, and I think fall into the category of “indie” music, or alternative, like Classic Crime or Kirk Franklin or Need to Breathe. But for me now I mainly listen to either classical music or old classics or Christian music and wish things like Rap and other modern music I hear on TV would fade out of popularity and that there would be a trend back to music you can hum and that makes you feel good!

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Donna,

Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. I’m not living with children — never have since I was one myself — so I’m near totally out of touch with today’s pop music like you described. Is this a curse or a blessing? How do you like dealing with it, even though it’s far from your all-time favorite?

But count on it: Every style you can name blazes in popularity for a while, then fades away, replaced by the next fad. Perhaps it’ll resurge in a few years, perhaps never. Happened to Disco (so far), and maybe Rap will know the same fate.

As long as people want to hum a lovely melody, and enjoy listening and dancing to sentimental favorites, these old popular standards will stay in vogue. Count on that, too.

Robbie

Reply

Julie Labes

As the mom of a musical theater student, I hear these songs all the time. In fact my son played the lead in Gershwins “Crazy For You” last year so I heard all those old great classics like “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and many more, over and over. As much as I love Phil Collins & James Taylor and such, there is something about those “American Songbook” classics that just makes me smile

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Julie,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. “Just makes me smile” is about the best answer I’ve heard to the question “Why do you like this music?” Thank you!
Robbie

Reply

Judy Stone-Goldman

I love old standards–Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern! Not only is the music wonderful, but lyrics are brilliant. It’s unclear to me if younger generations are learning about these wonderful old songs. It would be so sad to see them lost. Hats off to people helping preserve, play, and enjoy this great music.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Judy,

Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. I completely agree that these wonderful old songs ought to remain popular. Just glance through the other comments on this post. EVERYONE loves these tunes, and I seem to be preaching to the choir. I hope each of us, in our own ways, will keep this musical heritage alive for generations to come.

Question for you: In all your writing, have you ever created song lyrics? Any kind of poetry?

Robbie

Reply

Tambra Harck

Ah, a musician, an entertainer and an historian…
Sometimes at the end of a film I’ll wait to read the music credits. What song was that? Who sang it (or played) it? Making notes, I often then discover that if the song that caught my interest was an “American Standard,” I already have it on CD. It leads me full-circle back to an artist I may not have listened to in a while.

I was born into a family of singers. (My parents met in high school choir!) Thanks for the reflection on how the music of our lives leaves messages along the way that we can follow back home to a memory, a melody or a moment. You delve in what I call “the Language of the Soul.”

(Let me know if you have any tips for how to remember lyrics. I love to sing, but find I need Barbra Steisand’s teleprompter every time unless it’s “You Are My Sunshine” in which case I can make it thru the first chorus.)

Tambra

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Tambra,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Congratulations! Growing up in a family of singers gives you a great foundation for loving music all your life. BTW, I have trouble with lyrics, same as you. I was (and still am) a trumpet player for over 25 years before I began playing the string bass, so all that time I never had to learn the lyrics of a song, just the melody and harmony. So for me, singing is still more awkward than it needs to be. I manage just fine, though, as you apparently do, too.
Robbie

Reply

Debbie

This post made me want to break out the Ipod and put on a few of my favorites. I love, love “Fly me to the Moon.” I hope to hear you play in person someday Robbie!

Debbie
http://www.FreshBrothers.Wordpress.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Debbie,

Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Break out the iPod — that’s pretty hip. What have you loaded it with? Have an iPhone, Android, or something else that plays apps? Get “Pandora” — you’ll love it! There’s music playing in every kitchen I’ve visited — so what’s good pizza-making music?

Robbie

Reply

Debbie Goldberg

Hi Robbie – Pizza making music.. hmmm.. well, we have Sirius in all the stores. The folks in the kitchen all have very different tastes but we limit the stations that are allowed to play in the store so we don’t have Eminem (although I like him) cursing during a song when kids/families, etc are dining. Debbie

Reply

Rob Wallis

As a songwriter, these artists are the “go-to” for virtually any kind of songwriting. There are no “Stardusts” or “Blue Moons” in the current genres, nor are there any Gershwins or Porters. Many of us aspire, however, and continue to strive for that kind of perfection.

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Rob,

Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. You’re a songwriter? Tell me more.

Yes, those Tin Pan Alley composers harbored a good number of musical geniuses — Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and all the rest. They set a high standard and continue to inspire many songwriters, in a wide range of American popular music. In my opinion, people like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Weber, to name just a few, follow their footsteps and go a step beyond.

So tell me about the music you write.

Robbie

Reply

Fiona Stolze

I wasn’t really brought up on this kind of music being from the UK. My family was more into the Beatles although we did listen a lot of Frank Sinatra who I still love today. I recognise some of these titles but don’t actually have any memories of hearing any of them for the first time in memorable situations.

I played the violin during my school time and was madly in love with classical music, too, being particularly inspired by piano concertos.

So your passionate blog posts are opening up a new world to me. I’m going to dip into some of your music whenever I get the chance and enjoy the experience. Thanks for sharing this.

Fiona Stolze
http://fionastolze.wordpress.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Fiona,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Violin, huh? No wonder your musical interests range from the Beatles (and I presume some of the music that inspired them, too), through Frank Sinatra (and I presume some of his contemporaries, too), all the way to classical piano concertos (and maybe smaller chamber music to larger symphonies, and ballet, and opera). THERE’S SO MUCH TO ENJOY! Do you listen to any particular music while working in your studio?
Robbie

Reply

Fiona Stolze

Thanks for your reply Robbie. You’re right. I like a very wide range of music. And when I paint my mandalas I light a candle and play spiritual chants. I wrote a blog post about this a while back that you can find on my blog. Thanks for asking!

Reply

Connie Umbenhower

I love some of those oldies – I used to listen to Moon River on a record that my mom used to play when I was little. These classics just bring such a feeling of nostalgia. My daughter who is a young adult loves some of these oldies which just proves how timeless they are.

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Connie,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. The nostalgia from remembered music is powerful, indeed, and you’ve sown the seeds with your daughter, who’ll pass it along to her kids, and then they to their kids, and so it goes…
Robbie

Reply

Anonymous

Oh Robbie, you have me thinking of the days when I wanted to be a piano bar player. I used to be able to play a lot of the popular standards but these days I’d have to resort to my book of piano solos of popular standards (20 of them, I believe).

Rachel Lavern
http://www.rachellavern.com
Personal Transformation, Enlightenment and Development

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Rachel,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Sometimes we create music to amuse others, sometimes to astonish ourselves. One of these days we ought to get together and run through a bit of your piano bar repertoire. The next time someone plans a Biznik meeting at a room with a piano in it.
Robbie

Reply

rachel h blaufeld

I am laughing when you question “will we always like the same music?” I remember my mom going crazy from the top 40 hits that I liked when I was growing up and thinking to myself – I will never be a parent like that! guess what? I am slowly not liking what my boys are listening to! uh-oh! as always – I enjoyed your post! RB

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Rachel,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. If your boys are anything like I was (that is, trying hard to carve my own place in the world), they’ll keep listening until they find something you REALLY hate, and they’ll stick with it. That’s the way it seems to go, and usually it eventually all works out just fine. My mother loved Chopin, my father loved Broadway show tunes and Fred Astaire hits, and I finally settled with Elvis, Little Richard, and Louis Armstrong. Life goes on — hang in there!
Robbie

Reply

Anonymous

Recently I was on a cruise and there was a piano player that played every night for 3 hours straight. I was amazed at the wide repertoire of songs he knew…what struck me even more was that I could sing almost all of them…from Roger Miller to Beatles and back again. I grew up singing with my mom at the piano and our favorite song book was from Readers Digest…music does certainly bring us together.

Darcie Newton
Wine not whine. Nature not nurture. Discipline for profit, none for cheese.
http://mywealthspa.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Darcie,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Congratulations for finding that piano player. I suspect he knew thousands more songs but he kept playing the ones you enjoyed singing. That’s his job after all, and chances are good that he enjoyed the evening as much as you did. Where did the cruise take you, and en route did you hear any good music for the first time?
Robbie

Reply

Pat Zahn

Oooh…I just love standards – whether they are sung by past greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra or current poplular singers like Rod Stewart, Michael Buble, or Willie Nelson (guilty pleasure: Willie’s version of Georgia on my Mind.) Though I still enjoy popular music, it’s hard to imagine that any will stand the test of time.

Pat Zahn, Photo Solutions Superhero
http://www.PatZahn.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Pat,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. The test of time can be harsh, but give the contemporary music scene a break. There are lots of tunes with enduring beauty, and only time will tell which were in the right place at the right time. Surprises happen,too. “Georgia On My Mind” was composed in 1930, and it’s first popular recording was as an upbeat fox-trot. Go figure. Do you have some favorites you listen to while scrapbooking?
Robbie

Reply

Laurie Hurley

There is nothing better than listening to time tested music. Brings back many memories. And, even though I like some of the pop music of today, the old favorites even my parents listened too terrific.

Laurie Hurley
Witty, Wickless, WAHM, Tutor Broker, Direct Sales Gal
http://www.LaurieHurleyOnline.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Laurie,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Nearly all those popular standards are gems — that’s why they’re called standards. Most of their contemporary tunes never amounted to much — for good reason. Same with today’s popular music, some gems always seem to appear here and there. In another generation, your own kids will say that some of the music you listened to are still terrific. That’s the way it goes.
Robbie

Reply

Bill Browning

I have many songs that I first started listening to on my transistor radio that I still listen to today. And there are many classics that I still listen and dance to. String of Pearls is one that comes immediately to mind.

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Bill,
Holy smokes, a transistor radio? Well at least you didn’t begin with a crystal radio. I built one when I was a cub scout, and never understood why that technology could help radio catch on. “String of Pearls” is one of the all-time favorites — I still find it’s a sure-fire tune for quickly filling the dance floor.
Robbie

Reply

Louise Edington

I love music – all kinds and all genres. I like the standards and the new. I’m taking my girls to see Lady Gaga in March because I think she’s amazing but I could just as easily go and see Dean Martin in Vegas. I love some classical, some rock – all sorts. I think some of today’s music will stay the course just as only some of days gone by has. I just like what I like when I hear it and depending on my mood I listen to all kinds. Listening to Nirvana right now actually – classic!
Louise Edington
Facing Fears For Freedom
http://louiseedington.com

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Louise,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Delighted to hear you seem to enjoy so many styles of music. Indeed, we have a world full of wonderful music, if we only open our eyes and ears to it. Who knows why some compositions become timeless classics? Fascinating to listen to today’s favorites and wonder how they’ll fare. And why.
Robbie

Reply

Bruce Barone

I LOVE The American Songbook.

We listen to it on a radio station out of Hartford, CT. Mostly standards.

It will endure in my heart and soul forever. You might want to check out my friend here on FB, Jonathan Segal.

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Bruce,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Are you closer to Hartford than to Boston? I bet there’s lots of old standards broadcast out of Boston. Try searching for stations online. Better yet, try Pandora. You’ll love it. BTW, there’s tons of Jonathan Segal’s on Facebook. Send me a link.
Robbie

Reply

Carrie Hansen

I love music and I loved this post! Thought provoking: I guess I hadn’t given much thought to why I like certain songs, types of music, etc. I am actually a former clarinet player myself and my daughter is a voice/music student. I am constantly listening to really talented kids perform classic favorites. This post really resonated with me! Thank you.

Reply

Robbie Schlosser

Hi Carrie,
Glad you enjoyed this post, and I hope I gave you one or two good ideas. Thought provoking is the name o the game around here. You spoke about BOLD decor. One of these days I’ll speak about BOLD music. You still play clarinet? Do you suppose your clarinet days helped mold the kinds of music you enjoy today?
Robbie

Reply

Amina

Robbie, thank you posting on the blog challenge this beautiful service you provide. Music is embedded in the essence of the universe and consequently in the essence of humans. I don’t know what the world would have been like without music. I don’t even want to imagine!! Thank you Robbie.
Amina recently posted..Do You Like to Cook?My Profile

Reply

Jessica

What a great resource for anyone planning a party with music!
Jessica recently posted..Day Seven: Make Your Own Salad DressingMy Profile

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: