Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was an important part of the escapism of the movies of the 1930's. As a small child who could sing and dance, with cute ringlets and dimples, her presence in films came to guarantee a box office hit.

Good Ship Lolliop video
Many girls born during this time idolized Shirley Temple and tried to be just like her.

Shirley and Bojangles
Dramatization of the above

List of Shirley's films
An aside about the actor in the film version of life:
Hinton Battle was born on November 29, 1956 in Neubrücke, Germany. He is an actor, known for Dreamgirls (2006), Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (2001) and A Night on the Town (1983).

Trivia (4)

He originated the role of the Scarecrow in "The Wiz" in 1975, but was replaced by Michael Jackson for the 1978 movie version.
Has won three Tony Awards on three nominations, all in the category of Best Actor (Featured Role - Musical): in 1981 for "Sophisticated Ladies," in 1984 for "The Tap Dance Kid, " and in 1991 for "Miss Saigon."
Although many people primarily know him as a tap dancer, he didn't learn to tap until he was hired for "The Tap Dance Kid" in 1983.

In 2001, he played the part of a tap-dancing/singing demon in the musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
Timeline of Shirley Temple's life

More Shirley and Bojangles! Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dancing with Shirley Temple in a series of films during the 1930s . in such films as The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Just Around the Corner, or Will Rogers in In Old Kentucky.

Next week Judy Garland!
Truth about the Wizard of Oz

Good Ship Lollipop lyrics
I've thrown away my toys 
Even my drum and train.
I wanna make some noise 
With real live aeroplanes.
Some day I'm going to fly.
I'll be a pilot too.
And when I do, how would you
Like to be my crew...
On the good ship lollipop.
Its a sweet trip to a candy shop
Where bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.
Lemonade stands everywhere.
Crackerjack bands fill the air.
And there you are
Happy landing on a chocolate bar.
See the sugar bowl do the tootsie roll
With the big bad devils food cake.
If you eat too much ooh ooh
You'll awake with a tummy ache.
On the good ship lollipop
Its a night trip into bed you hop
And dream away
On the good ship lollipop.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Duke Ellington by D. D.

Duke Ellington's real name was Edward Ellington, but he preferred to be called Duke. He was born on April 29, 1899, and died on May 24, 1974.

Ellington took piano lessons when he was seven years old, but he'd rather be playing baseball. Eventually he quit. Several years later, Ellington heard someone playing the piano, and that inspired him. He took up piano playing again, and started to play his own made-up melodies. Now, Duke loved to play the piano.

When Duke was 19, he was entertaining men and women at parties, country clubs, pool halls, and cabarets. Duke formed his own small band who played all over Washington DC. Soon they left for New York City. They called themselves the Washingtonians.

Sometimes, Duke told his band to play whatever came to their mind- to improvise.

I got the information from Wikipedia and the book you lent to me.



Billie Holiday report, by I. J.

Billie Holiday
I.J. 9/19/14

Billie Holiday gave jazz a new voice, and also had a part in pop music in the 1930's to 1940's. She was of African American heritage, which unfortunately later in her career was a bit of a disadvantage in the musicindustry in that time. Her father left her and her mother when she was young to pursue a career as a jazz guitarist; she later met him in some of her ventures as a young jazz singer, when he was playing in someone named Fletcher Henderson's band. Holiday had a rough up-bringing as her mother was often leaving to serve on passenger railroads, which were known at that time as "Transportation jobs".

At as young as age fourteen, she joined her mother in Harlem, New York, and shortly after arriving she became a prostitute, her mother was in prostitution, too. However, soon they both got arrested, and that came to an end. Holiday started off her jazz career singing in various night clubs in Harlem, and got a recording debut from the producer John Hammond, with a singer called Benny Goodman at the age of 18, in 1933.

By the late 1930's Billie Holiday had become quite known, and had recorded with Count Basie and Artie Shaw. She became known as "Lady Day", in her singer songwriter career. She recorded a song called "Strange Fruit" based on a poem about lynching, which got her much fame. Many of her songs got into the "top brackets", and one sold a million copies. However she still had some trouble with her fame at times, due to her racial difference, which many people disputed in the music industry.

Making so much money was not always a good thing for Holiday, as she also had a drug addiction. When she got a roll in a movie, making ten thousand dollars a week, she ended up spending much of it on heroin. She eventually got arrested for possessing drugs in 1947, but when she got released, she was welcomed back to the music world with more success.

However, she didn't have much of a comeback, as her addiction got worse, and she got into several bad relationships. She still performed, but often lost her earnings. In May, 1959, she was taken to the New York Metropolitan Hospital, after collapsing. She had congestion of the lungs complicated by heart failure. She died in July of that year, on the 17th, diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis. She was arrested on her death bed forpossessing narcotics, with almost no money.

Though she somewhat destroyed herself, she is still known and admired as a great jazz artist today.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

First Class! Great Depression music overview

This is a BIG topic! So many interesting artists were singing during this time, and lots of great songs were written. First we had an overview of what was happening at the beginning of the Great Depression. How did it begin? Look at the timeline below to get an idea:
PBS Great Depression Timeline

The song Brother Can You Spare a Dime is a good example of the resentment people felt at being so poor, so quickly. Here is a great recording of Bing Crosby singing, with photographs from the era:
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

More than a quarter million homeless teens were riding the rails and traveling as hobos during this time. A famous musician that also rode the rails, and worked on them, was Jimmie Rodgers. Known as, "The Singing Brakeman" Rodgers wrote and recorded many songs about trains and life during the Great depression.
Waiting for the Train

Another song recorded by Rodgers was a great example of a hobo's dream:
The Big Rock Candy Mountain
We are learning The Big Rock Candy Mountain in class and we all agreed that cigarette trees sound disgusting. We sing "lollipop trees", but may also add in an occasional, "chocolate tree". Lyrics below:
One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay 
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats 
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain

In 1940 Woody Guthrie wrote, "This Land is Your Land", which most people know. What most people don't know about, however, are the lyrics that are usually left out:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
It also has a verse:
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,

Is this land made for you and me?

We will sing the entire song in this class, and maybe even share it with everyone at the end.

The final clip we watched in class was the ultimate fantasy of the 1930's, We're In the Money! from 1933.

Next week look for reports on Duke Ellington and Billie Holliday, written by students in the class.