The Great American Songbook: Part 2
“Strange how potent cheap music is,” Noel Coward wrote in Private Lives. That droll tribute to the power of popular song has been quoted countless times–but Coward, himself a fine songwriter, overlooked the fact that there was and is nothing “cheap” about the immaculate craftsmanship of the composers, lyricists, and performers who were responsible for the creation and dissemination of what has come to be known as the Great American Songbook. Their collective achievement, which survived the rise of rock-and-roll and continues to flourish, now seems likely to be of permanent significance.
About the Author
Terry Teachout is COMMENTARY’s critic-at-large and the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, runs through November 4 at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.