I've got a lot of records. A lot of old ones, I mean.
I listen to the oldest music I've got and then I listen to records from a generation later. You can hear a difference. It sounds like time bombs popped off in musical brains across the western world between 1907 and 1927: You can hear Billy Murray, the Denver Nightingale, warbling into the western night five years before the Titanic went down and hear Louis Armstrong's trumpet shouting 16 years and 1000 miles away and sit in amazement that one country has enough space to contain such a cultural divide. What happened in those 20 years? I never stop wondering. There were huge cultural and technological shifts during those decades. Certainly the pace and composition of American life in the 1920s must have been substantially different to what it was in the 1900s -- you could read a US history textbook and, if you're hell of savvy, maybe you could reverse engineer the path from Billy Murray's tonsils to Louis Armstrong's and come up with a convincing explanation of why dudes on records went from recording well-enunciated pop songs to playing blues and jazz. You could explain things by talking about slavery and syncretism in a young country and you would be right to do so.
But then you've got to explain
So if you explain
The US and
These forms even made their way back to
Increasingly you can see the