Bing Is Back - as a Swingin' Jazz Man ; Crosby Was a Musical Innovator, Says Biographer

By Ivry, Benjamin | The Christian Science Monitor, February 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Bing Is Back - as a Swingin' Jazz Man ; Crosby Was a Musical Innovator, Says Biographer


Ivry, Benjamin, The Christian Science Monitor


Tony Bennett once called Bing Crosby "the forgotten man" of American music. Now one award-winning jazz critic is making sure that doesn't happen.

In his new biography "Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams - The Early Years, 1903-1940" (Little, Brown, & Co.), Gary Giddins addresses why Crosby deserves a second listen.

"He's one of the great singers and entertainers of the past century and has been largely forgotten," says Giddins, whose decision to spread Bing's story into two spacious volumes has been questioned by some critics as perhaps more ink than the crooner deserves.

"He was a musical innovator who helped to create and embody the American style in music and attitude," Giddins replies, and "his career offers me a way to trace the rise of popular culture and the technocracy, as Bing is central to the development of records, radio, movies, and the microphone."

"Yes, it will sustain two volumes easily; I'm first approaching the most exciting years of his career as a singer, film star, and as the man who singlehandedly remade radio into a prerecorded or canned medium."

Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (1903-1977) was one of the most successful pop singers of the 20th century. Born in Tacoma, Wash., he got his start with a bandleader Al Rinker, brother of the great jazz vocalist Mildred Bailey, and he sang in Paul Whiteman's famous jazz orchestra as a member of the Rhythm Boys. A series of hits led him to Hollywood and eventually to record Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," which sold more than 30 million copies.

But Crosby was somewhat disparaged in later years, perhaps because his own easy self-mockery allowed such nicknames as "The Old Groaner" and "Der Bingle."

Giddins is esteemed for his fine illustrated biography of Louis Armstrong, "Satchmo" (Da Capo). His frank and clear-eyed take on jazz history made him an important participant in the recent public TV series "Jazz," filmed by Ken Burns.

How is Crosby treated by Burns? "Crosby isn't mentioned at all, additional evidence that he has been neglected," Giddins notes. "[But] the treatment of Armstrong is brilliant - more people will get a sense of his greatness from this film than from all the writings by me and other jazz critics combined."

In order to take Crosby seriously as a jazz artist, must we block out "White Christmas" and the rest of his pop crooning?

"No, no, no, no, no," Giddins exclaims. "It's all part of the same man. 'White Christmas' is a wonderful record - he employs his perfect timing and diction to make the lyrics come alive; he gives them a meaning far beyond their surface sentiment, which is why it had so powerful an impact on American life here and overseas during the war and after. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bing Is Back - as a Swingin' Jazz Man ; Crosby Was a Musical Innovator, Says Biographer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.