We were cleaning out the basement this weekend, when… jackpot! I found some old Great American Songbook sheet music, photos and records. As I was looking through everything, it really got me thinking about the connection I have with this music.
My dad’s father, born and raised in The Bronx, loved Vic Damone. Evidence of this is in the collection of his records passed down. In fact, just recently my dad said that growing up, he didn’t even realize “On the Street Where You Live” was from a show. He thought it was just another “old crooner’s song”.
Mom’s side is just as connected with this type of music, beginning with my grandpa. He has been teaching my sisters and me Jazz History this year via Skype, since he’s in Kansas and we’re in Indiana. In one of our sessions this spring, he mentioned playing with Ella Fitzgerald, and how those charts were the best he ever played. WHAT?! Even my mom didn’t know about that, though she remembers watching him perform with Andy Williams, among others.
My parents are both musicians and have performed music of the Great American Songbook. My mom played cello with Barry Manilow in upstate New York during his tour following the release of “Singing with the Big Bands”. I got some weird looks when I would ask my friends, “So, what’s your favorite Barry Manilow song?” It didn’t phase me when they had never heard of him- I just played the CD, expecting them to love it as much as I did. Not everyone did, but that’s OK.
As with all other good music, Great American Songbook music can span generations and create experiences and memories that entertain and inspire.