With the holidays around the corner, you may find yourself feeling a little nostalgic, reaching for Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby in lieu of your standard choices. But where do you look when you’ve worn out your Ella Fitzgerald records and every Billie Holiday recording available on Spotify?
Though Jazz singers, Lounge Crooners and Band Leaders in their respective categories, each belong to an elusive and illustrious collection known simply as
The Great American Songbook.
This week, the Straw Boss crew is highlighting an era in American songwriting that would define how we use one simple word: Classic.
Commonly referred to as “American Standards”, the Great American Songbook is an unofficial genre of music that spanned several decades and virtually every medium of entertainment available in the early 20th century. Written for Broadway, Hollywood, and Jazz clubs, the most popular recordings that comprise the songbook range from the 1920’s to the 1950’s, where it would begin to fade away as Rock & Roll grew in popularity.
Notable singers of these standards included: Nat “King” Cole, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Nina Simone, and Frank Sinatra- but the real names responsible for these songs were the songwriting teams behind them.
The Songbook comprises standards by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and many others. This is why you will see countless variations of a track from a variety of artists.
When first introduced you may have seen the style and structure of these songs as old fashioned or simplistic but the choices were very intentional and deliberate. In fact, going back to the genres roots in musical theatre, the lyrics were centered around common & universal themes, making it easier to add or remove from a given performance. And that universal songwriting style is exactly what makes these songs, regardless of recording artist, Timeless.
Featured on the Straw Boss playlist this week include:
Duke Ellington – “Mood Indigo”
Rosemary Clooney – “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me”
Ella Fitzgerald – “I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So
Cab Calloway – “Minnie The Moocher”
Guy Lombardo – “That Old Feeling”
Dick Haymes – “Girl On The Magazine Cover”