What do you see out of your window today?


Recently I was asked how the musicians’ strike of the 1940s impacted the way I listened to music the rest of my life. My immediate reaction was Huh? Say what? My memory bank was devoid of any recollection of such an event. Googling explained my cognitive deficit. At the time the strike began in 1942, I was a dumb little 11-year-old. Although I loved music dearly, all I knew at that point was that it emanated from the radio, the juke-box, the pipe organ at Radio City Music Hall, an occasional concert at Carnegie Hall — or my own piano. (Although there might have been considerable debate as to whether the sound produced when I sat down at the latter could have been aptly described as music.) What did I know that recording companies were responsible for the creation and distribution of the music that I listened to? Or, for that matter, what did I care that those companies were to take musicians out on a strike that would last for a year initially, and in some form or other on and off until 1948? (I am always amazed at how little I know about so many things.) I recommend several of the Google sites to anyone of a certain age, (i.e., those of us who remember: dancing to the music of the Big Bands; the time when performers like Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford were referred to as Girl singers; swooning over Frankie singing Night And Day; and — God love us — Three Liddle Fiddies In An Itty Bitty Pool). Reading the history of the strike, and the subsequent changes in the music industry is a most interesting and thought-provoking experience. Who knew that some music union executives, just trying to provide for some of their unemployed members, and being naive and rather ignorant in their belief that vocalists were not musicians, would change the course of popular music to such an extent. Perhaps the decline of the Big Band Era and the role-reversal relationship between vocalist and band would have come about anyway in the normal course of evolutionary events. But who knows? It started me thinking about unintended consequences… and the Theory of Chaos. You know… a butterfly flutters its wings in the Brazilian Rain Forest… unintended consequences. And it prompts me to wonder too, just how frequently Frank Sinatra must have thanked the Good Lord for that musicians’ strike and the decision that excluded singers from participating in it. For that strike would take Frank Sinatra out of the singer’s chair at the side of the band’s first row, catapult him to center stage at The Paramount crooning to a crowd of screaming teenagers, and start him on the path to becoming the most legendary icon in the history of American popular music. Now, how’s that for an unintended consequence… Or… in the words of the late, great Chairman Of The Board himself… Ain’t that a kick in the head……

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 1940s,Carnegie Hall,Frank Sinatra,Musicians’ Strike,orchestra,Radio City
  Bronx, NY
Jun 16 2024


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