January 29, 2002

Play It Again

Category: Music :: Permalink

This evening, while I was driving somewhere, I caught part of Tony Dillon-Davis’s show “Play It Again” on CKUA Radio. “Play It Again” is a weekly program which features popular music from the ’20s to the ’50s. Each week, the program focuses on one particular year, and Dillon-Davis talks about the significant events that took place that year, the famous books published then, and things like that. He also lists the number one songs for that year.

What struck me tonight, not for the first time, was how often the same song hit number one. In that era, a song might be covered by any number of artists, and sometimes the same song appeared at number one by one artist for a month or so and then by another artist the next month. That’s completely unheard of today. Sometimes artists do cover songs, but they’d never dream of releasing their cover version a month after the original! Only in jazz music, it seems to me, do the standards get performed over and over again, with each artist giving it his own particular twist.

And that leads me to questions for which I don’t have answers. What accounts for this phenomenon? It strikes me that something, or even several things, must have changed between then and now. Were the changes in the music itself? in the listeners and their expectations and tastes? in something else?

Posted by John Barach @ 12:51 am | Discuss (0)

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