The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty (2020)

The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty Wilfrid Sheed The House That George Built With a Little Help from Irving Cole and a Crew of About Fifty From Irving Berlin to Cy Coleman from Alexander s Ragtime Band to Big Spender from Tin Pan Alley to the MGM soundstages the Golden Age of the American song embodied all that was cool sexy and sop
  • Title: The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty
  • Author: Wilfrid Sheed
  • ISBN: 9781400061051
  • Page: 128
  • Format: Hardcover
The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty Wilfrid Sheed From Irving Berlin to Cy Coleman, from Alexander s Ragtime Band to Big Spender, from Tin Pan Alley to the MGM soundstages, the Golden Age of the American song embodied all that was cool, sexy, and sophisticated in popular culture For four glittering decades, geniuses like Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Harold Arlen ran their fingers over piano keys, enFrom Irving Berlin to Cy Coleman, from Alexander s Ragtime Band to Big Spender, from Tin Pan Alley to the MGM soundstages, the Golden Age of the American song embodied all that was cool, sexy, and sophisticated in popular culture For four glittering decades, geniuses like Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Harold Arlen ran their fingers over piano keys, enticing unforgettable melodies out of thin air Critically acclaimed writer Wilfrid Sheed uncovered the legends, mingled with the greats, and gossiped with the insiders Now he s crafted a dazzling, authoritative history of the era that tripled the world s total supply of singable tunes It began when immigrants in New York s Lower East Side heard black jazz and blues and it surged into an artistic torrent nothing short of miraculous Broke but eager, Izzy Baline transformed himself into Irving Berlin, married an heiress, and embarked on a string of hits from Always to Cheek to Cheek Berlin s spiritual godson George Gershwin, in his brief but incandescent career, straddled Tin Pan Alley and Carnegie Hall, charming everyone in his orbit Possessed of a world class ego, Gershwin was also generous, exciting, and utterly original Half a century later, Gershwin love songs like Someone to Watch Over Me, The Man I Love, and Love Is Here to Stay are as tender and moving as ever.Sheed also illuminates the unique gifts of the great jazz songsters Hoagy Carmichael and Duke Ellington, conjuring up the circumstances of their creativity and bringing back the thrill of what it was like to hear Georgia on My Mind or Mood Indigo for the first time The Golden Age of song sparked creative breakthroughs in both Broadway musicals and splashy Hollywood extravaganzas Sheed vividly recounts how Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer spread the melodic wealth to stage and screen.Popular music was, writes Sheed, far and away our greatest contribution to the world s art supply in the so called American Century Sheed hung out with some of the great artists while they were still writing and better than anyone, he knows great music, its shimmer, bite, and exuberance Sparkling with wit, insight, and the grace notes of wonderful songs, The House That George Built is a heartfelt, intensely personal portrait of an unforgettable era.A delightfully charming, funny, and most illuminating portrait of songwriters and the Golden Age of American Popular Song Mr Sheed s carefully chosen depictions and anecdotes recapture that amazingly creative period, a moment in time in which I was so fortunate to be surrounded by all that magic Margaret Whiting
The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty Wilfrid Sheed

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One thought on “The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty

  1. Jennie

    This is not a linear history, but a series of essays on the songwriters and songs from Irving Berlin up to the dawn of rock and roll, and the environment that produced them It s a very enjoyable read if you love those songs, and you re sure to learn plenty.It s opinionated I was not convinced by all of Sheed s views, and I got a little irritated at his cracks about marriage, among other things, but that s not really a problem.What I do wish is for a couple appendixes, especially a list of what [...]

  2. Hope Caldwell

    This book is a big disappointment I wish I could say I was learning about the composers, but the writing style is just too chatty, confusing and inside baseball I find it hard to glean much of any substance I will continue reading it but a little at a time I have decided to put this book aside there s no reason to finish it because I could learn about the musicians from reading about them on If I could give no stars, that s what this book deserves.

  3. David

    I bailed out on this book after 60 pages Sheed did not succeed in helping me appreciate Irving Berlin, and his chapter on George Gershwin, whom I admire, did not sustain my interest, bogged down in mulling about Gershwin the sportsman Self indulgent maundering in need of a strong editor.

  4. Kathryn

    This book reads like a gossip column It is about the the early tin pan alley music composers and lyricists, along with some history of early musical and movie music Each chapter is devoted to one composer, and their writing partners.

  5. Rick

    A little box above the title describes this slim book as A history of the Golden Age of American popular music, a period that essentially encompasses the first half of the 20th century Sheed describes the book as an extension of countless bull sessions between himself and any number of his friends who not only share his love of the songs of Berlin, Gershwin, Arlen, Porter, Carmichael, Ellington, Mercer, Kern, Warren, Van Heusen, and the other crew members, but in some cases the friends were also [...]

  6. Michael

    I read the first 35 pages of this book and skimmed the rest I give it one star for doing disservice to an amazing topic In short, this one is offensive The author is an old codger b 1931 who writes like one I counted dozens of hoary cliches You expect him to sneak in a 23 Skidoo The subject is fascinating the history of the A list Tin Pan Alley songs and their composers, what makes them great, and why we keep coming back to them yes, even Linda Rondstadt and Rod Stewart Yet the author seems to h [...]

  7. Bookmarks Magazine

    Although no musicologist, Wilfrid Sheed has been around the block He has written acclaimed novels and nonfiction books, most notably on baseball and literature Here, he displays a lifelong passion for jazz and recounts his interaction with some of the greats in this engaging, knowledgeable, opinionated, and occasionally some of Sheed s obscure references may lose the neophyte aggravating look at the Golden Age of music in America The House That George Built doesn t reach the status of, say, Ale [...]

  8. Kathryn

    I reviewed this one for BookPleasures last summer because of my somewhat professional interest in the history of American popular song The book is very subjective and shouldn t be used as a primer in the study of the golden age of American song basically the 30 s 40 s but if one already has a working knowledge of the composers and issues of the time, it s great fun.Sheed s prose is beautiful and his insights are incredibly penetrating I ve never before read such a succinct explanation of Irving [...]

  9. Rose

    I read this book last March and April while recuperating from surgery My grandson and I read it aloud to each other He is a budding musician I am an aging music lover and former professional dancer.I was fascinated by the drive and talent of the Gershwin brothers, and all of their talented associates who wrote wonderful music in the 30 s, 40 s and beyond I want to reread this one It was interesting discussing our musical discoveries from this book Though Riley plays Gershwin in Jazz Band in High [...]

  10. Ralph Miller

    I loved this book so much that I went out and found a remaindered hard cover copy on the web so I could prevent it from deteriorating over time If you have to read only one book about the great American music of the past, this should be it I can t comprehend the 2 and 3 star so called reviews here Sure, Sheed had a jazzy style, full of wit and sharp sarcasm and buoyant happiness, but it sure beats the soporific account of others, and even takes on the sainted Alec Wilder with a panache that even [...]

  11. Pat

    I had forgotten how many wonderful songs I still knew the words to until I started to read this book Wilfrid Sheed has provided an informal look at quite a few of the great American songwriters of the early and mid twentieth century who put together what is nowadays called the Great American Songbook They don t make them much like that any Rod Stewart may be recording some of these standards now still blows my mind Rod Stewart who would have thought , but they were mostly written for the Broadw [...]

  12. Dale

    My place is America and my time is now , as George Gershwin described his influence and position That is the story author, Wilfrid Sheed, tells about the time of Tin Pan Alley It is over but we sure can enjoy it for what it left us This work constitutes far and away our greatest contribution to the world s art supply in the so called American century That is Tin Pan Alley.Tin Pan Alley the world of Gershwin, Berlin, and Ellington A time there was new songs each individual could sing a new song e [...]

  13. Greg

    Four stars for the interested, anyway I m grouchy about music writing Usually too adjective heavy and thesaurus y for me Gary Giddins is great, Guralnick, of course, Marcus when he isn t intentionally referencing things NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER HEARD OF so we know he s superior I ll add Sheed on the topic of standards, if only because this sounds like a his words bull session instead of a scholarly blah blah He assumes you re interested enough or have lived in the Western World in the last century t [...]

  14. RAH

    A wonderful read, funny, shrewd and packed with unexpected information Impossible to read without periodically bursting into some of the great songs mentioned, by Gershwin, Porter, Kern and the like Read it if you love the standards, as sung by Sinatra, Crosby, Peggy Lee and the unmatchable Fred Astaire.

  15. Danny Axelrod

    Everything you ever wanted to know about the songwriters that made the Great American Songbook Not just Gershwin, Ellington, Porter, but almost everyone who made at least one contribution look at Hoagy Carmichael can you name a song he wrote other than Stardust He s got a meaty chapter devoted to him A must read for any piano bar drunk with an incessant itch to request the songs you grew up hearing from your parents.

  16. Craig

    Mr Sheed can certainly write a bit and has a great knowledge of the artists covered in this book But like most recordings that don t have the name The Beatles on the cover, not all the chapters are winners This book wanders between excellent scholarship to cheap gossip as seen in Vanity Fair magazine The chapters on Irving Berlin, Gershwin, Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen make the rest of it tolerable, plus there s some great quotes, such as, I can pee melody Richard Rogers.

  17. Becca

    Hard to read until I got used to his style, and even then it was tough because of the name dropping and inside jokes Not a great read, I think, unless you already know about these guys, their lives, and their music But probably interesting if you do the parts with people I did have a little history on and know their music were much interesting than the other parts.

  18. Tom

    A must read for any lover of the American Songbook My review appeared in Newsday on July 15 You can read it online at newsday features books

  19. G.

    Not a true history, of an evocation of an era by someone who was there Interesting view from someone who truly loves his subject Writing style is a tad too glib for my taste at times Each chapter can be read separately.

  20. Carolyn Fitzpatrick

    Not what I was looking for This author s tone was very chatty, which would be interesting for someone who already know about these musicians and just wanted to be entertained But his stories were all about little details, and not biographical basics.

  21. Katherine

    I am reading this book and really enjoying it It makes me laugh and hum along all in all though it is realy a music insiders book In the end, i enjoyed, but wearied of comments that assume lots knowledge that i did not have or want

  22. Nadine

    I threw in the towel on this one I thought I was going to read a Gershwin bio, but instead, got what seemed like an analysis of every American standard composer It read like a cross between a textbook and a 13 year old girl s diary Should have read the reviews first.

  23. David

    Not an introduction to the subject as the author assumes that you are already very familiar with American popular music of the middle part of the Twentieth Century Idiosyncratic, discursive and witty profiles of the composers and lyricists of the Great American Songbook.

  24. LeAnn Swieczkowski

    I highly recommend the book for those who are interested in the history of the Great American Songbook The reason I didn t give this book 5 stars is because Wilfrid Sheed, the author, writes often insider quips and the average reader doesn t know what he is referring to.

  25. Paul

    Lovely discursive mini biographies of the makers of The American Songbook Best read while listening to Jonathan Schwartz on the radio, scotch in hand Sheed s warm embrace of these songs, and these composers, lends a wonderful sweetness to the book.

  26. sima

    Not really a biography It s a series of profiles on various jazz characters Has a lot of potential, but mostly superficial descriptions The introduction was informative, but I don t feel like I understand the era with greater depth.

  27. Dutcher

    Like listening to a pretty interesting old guy tell you why he loves the American jazz song Anecdotes, rumor, fables, and some nice musicology and what not.

  28. Evie Rabeck

    A fairly comprehensive overview of the great songwriters of the 20th century, written with a nice personal touch by an acolyte who also knew some of the writers involved.

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