Over christmastime I made a CD for my parents which consisted of a bunch of really, really old songs with a vaguely christmasy bent, culled from a couple sources. This stuff was primarily from the 30's. Afterwards, I listened to the English Patient soundtrack while cooking dinner for the dogs. It's a good soundtrack and has some great old tracks from the 20's and 30's. I enjoyed all this old stuff so much I decided to go seek out more. I ended up finding a site with top 10 lists of singles from as early as the late 1800s. On it I found several references to Benny Goodman, a name which seemed familiar, so I found a few songs and began listening.
Apparently, I have been living my life in complete ignorance of one of the major forces in pre-WWII music. I know a little about film back then but I am rather empty of knowledge re that era. When I brought him up over a drink with friends, everybody with me looked at me as if to ask, or while actually asking, "Who hasn't heard of Benny Goodman?" Anyway, the recordings I got ahold of are absolutely priceless - I love the big band sound, as I've found before and never done anything about, but I think that modern recordings of the stuff feel out of place. I want to have been there in 1928 when he wows an audience with a 12-minute version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" complete with insane solos and applause. The recording I got is the next best thing: scratchy and tinny, it sounds like an unrestored silent film looks, and it's magnificent. This song is so incredibly hot. The main, most recognizable part of the song lasts only 4 minutes, then its off to crazy solo land, then to incredibly difficult-sounding high-note-maintaining land, then to funky piano land, and lastly to a cowbell-led, furiously drummed, red-faced explosion of a conclusion that only lasts 20 seconds.
I felt a little weird listening to something 80 years old, but I got over it once I realized that my Grandma's music is just as insane as my mom's. Though, the latest stuff is probably the most insane (Oval?). I look forward to finding out more about Goodman and his contemporaries.