Showing posts with label 1940's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1940's. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

***When Radio Ruled The Waves-Woody Allen's "Radio Days"

When Radio Ruled The Waves-Woody Allen's "Radio Days" (1987)-A Film Review


Radio Days, Directed by Woody Allen, 1987

I am a first generation child of the television age, although in recent years I have spent more time kicking and screaming about that fact than watching the damn thing. Nevertheless I can appreciate Director (and narrator) Woody Allen’s valentine to the radio days of his youth. I am just old enough, although about a half generation behind Allen, to remember the strains of songs like Paper Dolls and Autumn Leaves that he grew up with and that are nicely interspersed throughout his story as backdrop floating in the background of my own house.

I am also a child of Rock and Roll but those above-mentioned tunes were the melodies that my mother and father came of age to and the stuff of their dreams during World War II and its aftermath. The rough and tumble of my parents raising a bunch of kids might have taken the edge off it but the dreams remained. In the end it is this musical backdrop that makes Radio Days most memorable to me.

Let’s be clear- there something very different between the medium of the radio and the medium of the television. As Allen’s film poignantly points out the radio allowed for an expansion of the imagination (and of fantasy) that the increasingly harsh realities of what is portrayed on television do not allow one to get away with. There is, for example, the funny sketch here involving the ‘scare’ caused by Orson Welles narration of War of the Worlds. Today the space wanderers would have to be literally in one’s face before one accepted such a tale.

Allen’s youth, during the heart of World War II, was time when one needed to be able to dream a little. The realities of the world at that time seemingly only allowed for nightmares. My feeling is that this film touched a lot of sentimental nerves for the World War II generation (that so-called ‘greatest generation’) whether it was his Jewish families (as portrayed here) on the shores of New York’s Far Rockaway or my Irish families on the shores of North Adamsville, Massachusetts. Nice work, Woody.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

***From The Time Of Radio Days- Sentimental Journey- The Forties-A CD Review


CD Review

Sentimental Journey, Volume 1 (1942-1946), Rhino Records, 1993

I am a child of rock ‘n’ roll, no question. And I have filled this space with plenty of material about my likes and dislikes from the classic period of that genre, the mid-1950s, when we first heard that different jail-break beat, a beat our parents could not “hear,” as we of the generation of ’68 earned our spurs and started that long teenage process of going our own way. Still, as much as we were determined to have our own music on our own terms, wafting through every household, every household that had a radio in the background, and more importantly, had the emerging sounds from television was our parents’ music- the music, mainly of the fighting World War II period. And that is what this Sentimental Journey volume evokes in these ears.

These are songs, not jitter-bugging songs like when Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Harry James and their orchestras started to “jump” to high heaven but the midnight mood songs, the songs of soldiers leaving for wherever and uncertain futures, the songs of old-fashioned (now, seemingly, old-fashioned) boy meets girl love, the songs of lonely nights waiting by the fireside, waiting for Johnny to come home. A very different waiting sound than rock, be-bop or hip-hop. A sound driven more by melody in synch with the Tin Pan Alley lyrics than anything later produced.

Some of these tunes still echo way back in my young teenager brain, some don’t, but here are the stick outs:

Swing On A Star, Bing Crosby (a much underrated, by me, singer, especially before I heard him do his rendition of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? on the fly); Paper Doll, The Mills Brothers (this one I heard endlessly in the background radio and has great harmonics by these guys); There I’ve Said It Again, Vaughn Monroe (old Vaughn was the prototype, even more than Frank Sinatra, for the virile male singer who carried the “torch”); Stormy Weather, Lena Horne (I was mad for this song even in my “high rock” days and if you get a chance watch the late Lena Horne do her thing with this one on YouTube, Wow!); Night and Day, Frank Sinatra (classic Cole Porter, although I like Billie Holiday’s version better, Frank’s phrasing is excellent). Now if we just had Stardust Memories we really would be back in the 1940s.