The Way We WereMay 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
Before the Great Depression, the government offered few social services. Unemployment compensation, social security and disability relief were outgrowths of the policies made in reaction to the recession. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, he promised a more aggressive strategy, which became the New Deal.
The Big Band Era
In the 1930s talk was cheap and the bands were big. If it didn't swing, it didn't mean a thing.
Someone had to keep those jumping dance-hall machines firing on all cylinders, and such was the job of the bandleader. Here are some of the best and brightest:
DUKE ELLINGTON and his band were an embarrassment of riches during their epic career. Ellington had the kind of charisma that would have moved Toyotas off of a used car lot like half-priced Mercedes had he been a car salesman rather than an American music icon. Along with having the ability to draw admirers with ease, his band was filled with musicians who were considered among the best at what they did. After becoming the house band at Harlem's Cotton Club, Ellington's popularity and fame, along with his band's, exploded.
Edward "Duke" Ellington, center, with his band, "Nuf Said"
COUNT BASIE honed his talents on the piano in Harlem but later moved to Kansas City and joined Walter Page's Blue Devils. After Page's death, however, Basie salvaged some of the members of the band and headed for New York City by way of Chicago. Basie's flair on the piano and penchant for recording with some of the greatest jazz singers of the day were what made his hits like "April in Paris" American standards.
BENNY GOODMAN was a gifted clarinetist even at a very early age, but he found that in the mid-1930s audiences weren't receptive to his "hot" style, favoring smoother jazz instead. Feeling as though he and his band were being given their last rites at an engagement at the Palomar in August of 1935, Goodman decided that if he was going to fade into the sunset it was not going to be quiet. Goodman and his band abandoned the valiumesque set list and returned to their swinging style, thinking it might be their last opportunity to do so. The crowd went wild. The dance floor reached maximum capacity; it has been said that the jitterbug was created during the show. Goodman and his band became stars and went on to sell out Carnegie Hall in 1937 for one of the most famous and influential concerts in jazz history.
THE DORSEY BROTHERS—Jimmy and Tommy—found themselves working and recording for almost anyone on the jazz scene with a checkbook and a working ballpoint pen. After years of surviving as working musicians, Tommy and his older brother formed the Dorsey Brother's Orchestra in 1934. In 1935 the band split when heated feelings between Jimmy and Tommy came to a head. Tommy formed his own band after the breakup and proceeded to find success to the tune of more than 130 Billboard hits, including the classic "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." —Brian Burdulia is a freelance music writer and critic who lives in Pittsburgh.
Color by Clairol
In 1931, Lawrence Gelb discovered an intriguing haircolor preparation called Clairol while visiting Paris with his family. His decision to bring it back to the U.S. altered the course of beauty history.