Bing and Billie and Frank and Ella and Judy and Barbra (Hardcover)
Here is the epic tale of how these artists dominated American popular music over a fifty-year period, a roller coaster ride that gains momentum through the 1930s and ’40s, reaches a crest of magical creativity in the 1950s and early '60s, and then crashes down by the early 1970s, a half century when the great American songbook dominated the airwaves and the fight for racial equality came to the forefront.
Ella was beloved in her time, and she is still beloved. Frank is still the king of the songbook, but Bing’s legacy is just as vital once you start listening to his unprecedented 1930s output. The best songs from Judy’s greatest triumph, her 1963–64 TV series, are shared endlessly online. The legend of Billie grows by the year, and the basis of this should be appreciation and wonder for her own great artistry in the 1930s. Barbra is a living legend and still a commercial force to be reckoned with, the last exemplar of the songbook and its glories. All six of these singers reach out to us and show us new ways of expression and new ways to dream.
Their song is largely ended but the melody lingers on.
Dan Callahan is the author of Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman, Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave, The Art of American Screen Acting, and The Camera Lies: Acting for Hitchcock, as well as the novel That Was Something. Callahan studied acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory at NYU and has been the arts editor of Show Business Weekly, book review editor at Culturedose.com, and associate editor at Siman Media Works. He has written film and theater reviews for Time Out New York, Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Nylon, the Village Voice, New York Magazine, and many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“The American songbook is a glorious assemblage of styles, traditions, and inventions. Its legendary stars have always crossed and cross-wired predictable boundaries, not just of music but of class, race, and temperament. Call the roll of the greats: Bing, Billie, Frank, Ella, Judy, and Barbra. Open this vibrant portrait gallery of a book and immerse yourself in the particulars of their lives and art. Dan Callahan is an astute critic and an engrossing storyteller.” —Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland and Constructing a Nervous System
“Dan Callahan casts a wide net over the eternal seas of twentieth-century music—the songs and the singers who keep us forever young, like themselves, lost in the awesome wonder of why we’re here. The voices of these six great vocalists are alive in all their glory in the pages of this very compelling book.” —David Kaufman, author of Some Enchanted Evenings: The Glittering Life and Times of Mary Martin and Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door
“The intertwined lives and careers of these singers give us a sweeping and evocative view of the musical and cultural world of the last century. Few artists define that time better than these six, whose musical leaps and disappointments; romances and marriages; passion, productivity, and poignance tell a story of America’s heart. I couldn’t stop reading Callahan’s masterful work; it transported me right into that magical era.” —Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—And the Journey of a Generation