By Ken Emerson
Through the overdue Nineteen Fifties and early Nineteen Sixties, after the surprise of Elvis Presley and earlier than the Beatles spearheaded the British Invasion, fourteen talented younger songwriters huddled in midtown Manhattan's mythical Brill construction and a warren of workplaces a section farther uptown and composed essentially the most beguiling and enduring entries within the nice American Songbook. Always Magic within the Air is the 1st thorough historical past of those popular songwriters-tunesmiths who melded black, white, and Latino sounds, built-in audiences earlier than the US desegregated its faculties, and taken a brand new social realization to pop music.
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Extra info for Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era
Only one anyone will ever have. Suit coat with a bow tie, guitar over his knee. Cordially yours, Blind Blake, he’s told it says. ” Country blues. Ragtime in there, too. It’s a talking song. Race Record but not now Play that thing boy… I got something that’ll make you feel good Bring that girl right on again It done got good to me Good to the last drop, just like Maxwell House Coffee. Yeah. Whoop that thing… Now we’re going the old country route… First time through, something is off, doesn’t take.
Papa Rabinowitz: I’ll teach him better than to debase the voice God gave him! Mother Rabinowitz: But Papa—our boy, he does not think like we do. Papa Rabinowitz: First he will get a whipping! Jakie Rabinowitz: If you whip me again, I’ll run away—and never come back! ] —The Jazz Singer, 1927 Talkies and the Fading of Vaudeville hen Chicago’s Essanay Film Studios premiered its silent short “The Dark Romance of a Tobacco Tin” in 1911 (a comedy short about a White man’s “great surprise” at finding the girl he’s about to marry is “a Negro”), the film was most likely a small portion of a vaudeville show, preceded by dancing, blackface musical and comedy skits, contortionists, and finally music to accompany the film.
Later, Joe Oliver’s memory will keep that failure vivid, visceral. He’d come off a plantation. Worked as a butler for a well off Jewish family who let Bunk Johnson mentor him on the horn. After these sessions, Bunk stole his sheet music, so rare in those days. Joe Oliver memorizing the stuff before it went out the back door. Memorizing it as if already aware of how much would escape him in his life. His teeth. His money. And then his reputation, at least for a while. As a teenager in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong delivered coal to Storyville whorehouses.