03/11/2018 1:53 pm  #76


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I am 150 pages into the book. It is amazing! I just hope that Gary can get the rest of Bing's life published. 
Such a great book!

Malcolm, any early word on volume 3? LOL

 

03/11/2018 5:05 pm  #77


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Just picked up my copy from the P.O. (Saturday).
Quickly looked at the pictures.
Now for the long read - 720++

 

04/11/2018 6:49 am  #78


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

David, Gary was asked about a 3rd volume recently and this is what he said.
"I hope so, but it will depend a great deal on how this book does.  If it does not do well, I don’t see the publisher wanting a third volume. I do have two other books under contract, and I need a break. But the research is done, and if there is a demand, I expect to write a third and final volume on Bing Crosby."

     Thread Starter
 

08/11/2018 5:06 pm  #79


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Interview with Gary Giddins about Volume 2 here on YouTube.




Thanks to Malcolm for drawing attention to it.

 

08/11/2018 10:41 pm  #80


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Nice interview!


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

09/11/2018 4:27 pm  #81


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

A very nice review in the Wall Street Journal! Here

 

09/11/2018 5:12 pm  #82


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

We cannot read it unless we are members. If anyone here IS a member PLEASE cut and paste the entire article here for all to enjoy. THANK YOU!http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png
  


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

12/11/2018 10:10 am  #83


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Paul, you might like to try this link:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/bing-crosby-review-nothin-but-blue-skies-1541724095

It works for me, don't ask me why! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

 

12/11/2018 10:12 am  #84


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Thanks, everybody, for the links and copied reviews and comments.
Unfortunately my copy has been delayed somewhat - eight more days to go ... But I'm really looking forward to it!

 

12/11/2018 1:58 pm  #85


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

frans wrote:

Thanks, everybody, for the links and copied reviews and comments.
Unfortunately my copy has been delayed somewhat - eight more days to go ... But I'm really looking forward to it!

Thanks, but no it does not open up. Can you PLEASE cut & paste and post here for all of us to openly enjoy? 
 


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

12/11/2018 6:34 pm  #86


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Here you go, Paul. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
It has probably to do with our different geographical locations. Commercialism has created several Earths as one obviously doesn't generate enough profit! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


Nothing but blue skies (WSJ)
By Ted Gioia
Nov. 8, 2018 7:41 p.m. ET
During the final days of World War II, a military commander wrote an urgent letter to singer Bing Crosby, insisting he had “something big” to say, “something too big not to have you know and understand.
”Crosby was more than familiar with effusive fans. At that moment, he was both the top box-office draw in movies and the most popular singer in America. His latest picture, “Going My Way,” would sweep the Oscars and win one for Bing himself, while his rendition of “White Christmas” was already the best-selling record of all time (a distinction it still holds). Even so, the sober words from this officer weren’t the typical stuff of fan letters.
Crosby’s music, he insisted, possessed the “power to soften the hearts of the man who so shortly after goes back to shoot down his brother man” and somehow manages to keep “our boys from turning into the beasts they are asked to be.” The singer’s voice “strikes to the bottom of the hearts of men. I have watched it happen, often, not just in the rare case but in many many thousands of men—sitting silent, retrospective, thoughts flying back to home and loved ones.” Somehow, in these barbarous times, Crosby had tapped into the “power of music, put into humble, throbbing words, as these fellows want it, need it, bow to it.”
Gary Giddins, Crosby’s indefatigable biographer, calls this aspect of his singing “a zone of emotional safety.” You could even claim that Bing Crosby invented emotional restraint in popular music. As leader of the first generation of singers to take advantage of the improved microphones of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Crosby grasped better than anyone the potential of conversational delivery. He was cool before cool was hip.
You could hardly find a more striking contrast to the Hitlerian rhetoric of the opposition. I’m not surprised Crosby got enlisted not to fight but to serve as, in Mr. Giddins’s words, “an essential voice of the home front.”
Yet Crosby, who was never as complacent as his public image, also insisted on taking his act into combat. He undertook brutal tours that brought him into danger, often performing during bombing raids and sometimes as close as a thousand yards from the German lines. As a result, Crosby added another honor to his list after the war: In a national poll to pick the most admired man alive, Bing Crosby finished at the top—beating out the pope (Pius XII), the president (Truman) and two legendary generals (Eisenhower and MacArthur). Pretty swell stuff for a crooner from Spokane.Yet fate is cruel to pop-culture icons once their original audience has died. When Gary Giddins started work on his Crosby biography in 1991, his subject was well-known, a household name even. But I suspect that a survey of music fans today would find that few can identify the entertainer so admired by their parents and grandparents (and, in many instances, their great-grandparents).For Crosby’s renown to endure, he needs to make the transition from faded star to timeless artist. Someone has to make the case for Crosby’s historical importance—and fortunately for Bing, Gary Giddins has taken up the gauntlet with surprising vehemence. Mr. Giddins is one of the leading music critics of the last half-century, and for many years set the tone for jazz coverage through his influential articles in the Village Voice. His opinions carried such weight that they were often mimicked by other writers within days of publication. He hasn’t written many articles in recent years, though—probably because of Bing Crosby.Mr. Giddins published “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams” in 2001, but this long-awaited book only covered the first half of the artist’s life, from 1903 to 1940. Readers have had to wait 17 years for a second volume—which, as it turns out, focuses just on the period from 1940 to 1946. You can do the math: Mr. Giddins has spent around two-and-a-half biographer years for each Bing year. Crosby lived until 1977, so either Mr. Giddins has to pick up the pace or this project will take until the end of the century to complete.Yet Mr. Giddins makes a strong case that Crosby’s World War II years deserve their own book. Crosby dominated almost every facet of mainstream entertainment during this tumultuous period. His radio program, Kraft Music Hall, entertained Americans at home. His records were in constant rotation on jukeboxes. And when people went to the movies, they invariably preferred his comedies for laughs (especially Crosby’s “Road” films with Bob Hope), his musicals for romance and glamour (“Blue Skies” and “Holiday Inn”), and his play-acting as an Irish-American priest (in “Going My Way” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s”) for homespun inspiration.It almost seems like a miracle, suitable for one of these religious films, that Crosby managed this workload while also touring constantly to raise money for the war effort and entertaining soldiers at home and abroad. This is where Mr. Giddins’s thorough research pays dividends. By digging into day-by-day and week-by-week itineraries, our biographer demands our admiration for Crosby’s unflagging efforts, often with little concern for personal rewards or favorable publicity. I always assumed that Bing Crosby, in private life, was as laid-back as his onstage image. I never knew this workaholic side of his character.Yet a Crosby biography has also to deal with less-appealing character issues. The entertainer’s son Gary accused his father of coldness and abusive treatment, and two of Crosby’s other children, Dennis and Lindsay, committed suicide—both with a shotgun. This has left many with an uneasy sense that the Crosby persona of easygoing affability was a façade for a darker private life.Mr. Giddins is surprisingly non-judgmental about this subject—especially when compared to his strong opinions on Crosby’s recordings. He chastises the performer when he “misses each and every high note” on a track or comes across as “stale and overemphatic” in delivering a lyric. But Crosby’s approach to child-rearing is never directly criticized, and often presented as symptomatic of its time and place. “In the lexicon of postwar psychology, [Crosby] might have been called a behaviorist,” Mr. Giddins explains at one point. Whenever possible, Mr. Giddins counterbalances the accusations of Gary with other views—for example, the testimony of his brother Phillip, who declared: “I just don’t see there was any way you could have asked for a better father.”But no one can accuse Mr. Giddins of shortchanging us on the facts. Every aspect of Crosby’s life is laid bare for close inspection in this penetrating biography, from his tough negotiations with employers to his most casual dealings with servants and staff. I especially enjoyed previously unpublished extracts from a fan’s diary that recount minute details of Crosby’s life from the perspective of two sisters who followed him wherever he went. Today they would be called stalkers, but the accounts they left behind offer many insights into how the leading entertainer of midcentury America acted when he thought he was unobserved—almost always with charm, courtesy and an appealing nonchalance.It’s hard to reconcile the different facets of this oddly private man who thrived in the limelight while maintaining such reserve. Yet the biggest obstacle to Mr. Giddins’s project may be less Crosby’s complexity than the sheer fickleness of public renown. Thirty years ago, a book of this sort would have found a huge audience. But nowadays any fans who heard Bing Crosby sing at the peak of his career would be in their 80s, if not older. He could easily be forgotten in a few years’ time.That’s a shame. Crosby was not just a celebrity, but one of the most influential performers of modern times. No artist did more to celebrate the sublimity that can come from understatement or the grace derived from keeping cool under pressure. We could benefit from an unflappable champion of serenity guiding our current-day pop culture. I certainly welcomed this reminder that we had one in our midst not long ago.—Mr. Gioia is the author of 10 books, most recently “How to Listen to Jazz.”

Last edited by frans (12/11/2018 6:40 pm)

 

12/11/2018 7:03 pm  #87


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Thank you very much for that, Frans.
I too could not access more than the first two paragraphs without taking out a subscription, though I have previously looked at pages in the Wall Street Journal. Possibly they only allow a limited number of "free" views.

I am fascinated by the statement "For Crosby's renown to endure he needs to make the transition from faded star to timeless artist".

I think I could argue for some time about the two phrases "faded star" and "timeless artist".
Some have faded to the point that they are indeed all but forgotten, even to those with memories that take them back to the times, but there are some - Bing very well up there - who still have regular showings of films on TV, repeated playing of recordings on radio, continued availability of CDs and DVDs, including massive numbers of more or less pirated CDs and "virtual" CDs (just search on Amazon) and increasing presence on such services as Spotify and Youtube. And an active international fan club. There are others for whom similar claims can be made, but very few for which all are true. 

Timeless or not?


.



 

 

14/11/2018 6:41 am  #88


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Thanks for posting the interview and book review. I expect to get my copy of the book from David Currington, the Australian representative of the International Club Crosby later this month.

 

16/11/2018 3:08 pm  #89


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I just finished reading the book, and it is nearly perfect. I hope a lot of people support this volume.

Here is my review of the book:
https://bingfan03.blogspot.com/2018/11/book-review-bing-crosby-swinging-on-star.html
 

 

18/11/2018 1:07 am  #90


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Into reading the book now but I noticed that Giddins refers to the Paramount TheaTRE in New York using the Yankee spelling of theater.
Going to the web the Paramount theatres are spelt with the tre ending - NY, LA, Seattle and numerous other centres.
Here in Morton the Roxy is '...ter' but the Roxy in Eatonville, 28 miles away is '...tre'.
So, he should have had that right.
I was a Paymaster and correct spelling was important.
I sometimes have an 'S' added to my name when there isn't one.
There was Sid Field and W.C.Fields.
Our name is the only thing we come into the world with and in New York it is theatre.
Tiny moan I know but otherwise I am enjoying the book.

 

18/11/2018 4:29 am  #91


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Gary spelled it right.  Limeys spell it with an "re" at the end, Americans get it right with an "er" ending.  Gary may have got it wrong by not making Vol. 2 the complete rest of Bing's life from Vol. 1 but er is right on.  Even researching this in Superman comic books will tell you when Superman is perplexed he says, "Ub Erb" not "Ub Reb".http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

 

18/11/2018 6:59 am  #92


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Archiefit,
You will have to travel around and double check the spelling of theatre.
The Roxy theater in Morton when advertising movies theater is used but when advertising stage shows the producer uses theatre as do a large, large number of countries.
Look at the neon signs when you go to New York or Chicago.

 

19/11/2018 1:43 am  #93


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I don't need to be a globe hopper to know how to spell a word I've known since I was a wee little adorable child.  As previously stated, in the US of A we spell it with an er, you's guys can spell it anyway you want.   You say eyether I say either.

 

19/11/2018 8:09 am  #94


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Bing touched on this - remember? - in Road to Morocco, Bing and Bob sang - "Like Webster's dictionary, we're Morocco bound".

Well, it all goes back to Webster and his dictionary. Before Webster it was universally Theatre. After, it gradually became theater in the US.

This board is not the venue for discussions about language, but a good summary of the situation which avoids the various technicalities found in dictionaries (several of which, both British and American indicate that either is acceptable) can be found here. There is also a graph here (the second in the article) which shows that majority usage in US has been for theater but this has only been achieved in the last 50 years.

However, whatever version is believed to be "correct" in linguistic terms, in quoting the names of venues it is certainly wrong to correct any perceived errors in their adopted names. If a product/venue/company name is being quoted their stated name should be quoted without amendment. 
 

Last edited by Richard Baker (19/11/2018 5:27 pm)

 

29/11/2018 3:01 pm  #95


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Finally - the book has arrived! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
Three guesses what I'll be reading during the Christmas holidays!

 

29/11/2018 4:15 pm  #96


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

NONFICTIONHow Bing Crosby Changed the Course of Pop MusicBING CROSBY 
Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946
By Gary Giddins
Illustrated. 724 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $40.
Television viewers who grew up in the 1970s knew Bing Crosby as the grandfatherly singing star of wholesome family specials, tuned into by their parents. Crosby was pipe-smoking, unruffled and witty, much like Father O’Malley, the Catholic priest he had played in two oft-rerun films, [color=#326891]“Going My Way” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” By his side were his smiling wife and their model children, none of whom an even vaguely countercultural youth would have wanted to sit next to in the school cafeteria.[/color]Since his music was not theirs, newer generations had no way to know that Crosby had not only changed the course of American popular singing, he had helped create it. It was he who, more than any other vocalist, had freed that art from its turn-of-the-century stiffness and transformed it into conversation. Drawing on black influences, he made pop songs swing, while treating a new invention, the microphone, as if it were a friend’s ear. Without him, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Dinah Shore, Dean Martin and countless other intimate singers could never have happened. A workhorse, he turned out a staggering number of recordings (including dozens of No. 1 hits) as well as films, radio shows and personal appearances. Whatever he did seemed off-the-cuff and effortless.For all that, his reputation hasn’t much endured. He lacked the qualities that have made Sinatra eternally seductive: coolness, sex appeal, danger, risk and a singing style that opened a window into his hard living and emotional extremes.ADVERTISEMENTCrosby had a far different job. With calm reassurance, he shepherded America through the Depression and World War II, then became a symbol of postwar domestic stability. Crosby applied his soothing baritone to love songs, folk songs, Irish songs, Hawaiian songs, country songs — he sang almost everything and revealed almost nothing. His 1953 memoir, “Call Me Lucky,” upholds the blithe facade. He seemed trapped in it.Then, in 1983, six years after Crosby’s death, his oldest son, Gary, wrote his own book, [color=#326891]“Going My Own Way” (with Ross Firestone). In it, he portrays the singer as a monstrous disciplinarian for whom beatings and belittlement were the answers to every filial problem. Gary had become an alcoholic; later in life, two of his brothers, Lindsay and Dennis, shot themselves in the head.[/color]Not everyone was surprised. Many who had known Crosby remembered him as cold. In his last television appearances he stares out glumly with eyes of stone, perhaps weary of the role he’d had to play for 40 years. All this is a biographer’s feast. But with a faded titan like Crosby, should one aim for a single, reader-friendly volume that might attract more than just die-hard fans? Or do the achievements demand a multivolume magnum opus, such as John Richardson is writing on Picasso and Robert Caro on Lyndon B. Johnson? And if a writer is enraptured enough to go that route, what to do when there’s lots of personal unpleasantness to address?[color=#326891]Crosby’s biographer Gary Giddins had choices to make. A formidable scholar of jazz and popular song, Giddins is certainly the man for the job. He spent 30 years as a Village Voice columnist. His journalism and his books about Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong have won him scores of awards.[/color]In 2001 he released the 700-plus-page “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams — The Early Years, 1903-1940.” Now comes the comparably sized “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star — The War Years, 1940-1946.” It’s easy to see why Volume 2 took him so long. As before, Giddins researched a mountain of material to the max, and he lays his findings out with impressive clarity. At the start of the book, Crosby, 37, is America’s greatest star, a “national security blanket” whose role is about to grow as war approaches. Crosby’s weekly radio series, “Kraft Music Hall,” had made his voice as welcome in the American living room as Franklin Roosevelt’s. Once war was declared, the star took to the road to entertain the troops. The “Road” movies, his series of slapstick travelogues with Bob Hope, provided goofy escapist fun for the folks back home. In contrast, Crosby’s Oscar-winning portrayal of warm, wise Father O’Malley gave the Catholic Church its best P.R.He tended his image carefully. “My private life is just like the private life of any other middle-class American family,” he declared. Crosby’s wife was Dixie Lee, a winsome songbird who had traded her career (and her peroxide-blond hair) for motherhood. On the air, Crosby depicted their four sons as adorable scamps. In truth, Dixie was a hopeless and nasty drunk, while Crosby, aided by his wife, doled out harsh corporal punishment to keep the boys in line. Gary had it the worst; aside from the beatings, his father humiliated him for a perceived weight problem, calling him Lardass and Bucket Butt. “Bing’s attempt to eradicate a sense of specialness and privilege in his sons,” as Giddins terms it, was undercut by the fact that they were Hollywood kids, trotted out as needed for show.Giddins guides us past these minefields in brisk, lucid prose, as smoothly controlled as a Crosby performance. His scholarship and thoroughness earn the highest marks. But Crosby’s inner life is left mostly to the imagination. Perhaps few people understood it; he seems to have rarely dropped his mask, except to family. Giddins notes, but just in passing, “the undertow of loss and fear, the threat of unremitting loneliness” in many of Crosby’s song selections. Mary Martin, his co-star in the 1940 film “Rhythm on the River,” recalled Crosby as “absolutely terrified of any love scenes, any close-ups, any kissing.” According to the family friend Jean Stevens, Crosby had “no way to show his affection at all, never hugging the children for fear of spoiling them.”But the why is unexplored. One can only imagine how Crosby felt when he visited Cardinal Francis Spellman to ask for counsel: He was thinking of divorcing Dixie and marrying the actress Joan Caulfield, with whom he was having an affair. “Bing,” the cardinal warned, “you are Father O’Malley, and under no circumstances can Father O’Malley get a divorce.”Such material is moving, but there’s not much of it. Giddins seems more comfortable examining the career. He shines in his discussion of minstrelsy in film and its garish presence in the Crosby movie “Dixie.” The perils and drudgery of U.S.O. touring come to life. And Giddins tells us a lot about how Crosby and the director Leo McCarey jointly fashioned the Crosby-like character of O’Malley.But the immensity of detail can be overwhelming. Pages and pages of historical context; sprawling lists of figures, song titles and names; letters quoted in near-entirety — all of this invites skimming.How many more volumes would Giddins need to cover Crosby’s remaining 31 years? They include the singer’s entire television career, about 20 more films (including three of his best-remembered ones, “The Country Girl,” “White Christmas” and “High Society”); a more serene second marriage and family life; and his final concert years, when it was just Bing, face to face with his audience. As the work thins out and the frail humanity emerges, Giddins may face his greatest challenge.


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

29/11/2018 4:16 pm  #97


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

I must admit that after reading "Coventry" I was left feeling quite empty, sad and rather ill-feeling.


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

29/11/2018 5:32 pm  #98


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

Ron Field wrote:

Into reading the book now but I noticed that Giddins refers to the Paramount TheaTRE in New York using the Yankee spelling of theater.
Going to the web the Paramount theatres are spelt with the tre ending - NY, LA, Seattle and numerous other centres.
Here in Morton the Roxy is '...ter' but the Roxy in Eatonville, 28 miles away is '...tre'.
So, he should have had that right.
I was a Paymaster and correct spelling was important.
I sometimes have an 'S' added to my name when there isn't one.
There was Sid Field and W.C.Fields.
Our name is the only thing we come into the world with and in New York it is theatre.
Tiny moan I know but otherwise I am enjoying the book.

EXTREMELY small potatoes.....


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

29/11/2018 5:36 pm  #99


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

frans wrote:

Here you go, Paul. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
It has probably to do with our different geographical locations. Commercialism has created several Earths as one obviously doesn't generate enough profit! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


Nothing but blue skies (WSJ)
By Ted Gioia
Nov. 8, 2018 7:41 p.m. ET
During the final days of World War II, a military commander wrote an urgent letter to singer Bing Crosby, insisting he had “something big” to say, “something too big not to have you know and understand.
”Crosby was more than familiar with effusive fans. At that moment, he was both the top box-office draw in movies and the most popular singer in America. His latest picture, “Going My Way,” would sweep the Oscars and win one for Bing himself, while his rendition of “White Christmas” was already the best-selling record of all time (a distinction it still holds). Even so, the sober words from this officer weren’t the typical stuff of fan letters.
Crosby’s music, he insisted, possessed the “power to soften the hearts of the man who so shortly after goes back to shoot down his brother man” and somehow manages to keep “our boys from turning into the beasts they are asked to be.” The singer’s voice “strikes to the bottom of the hearts of men. I have watched it happen, often, not just in the rare case but in many many thousands of men—sitting silent, retrospective, thoughts flying back to home and loved ones.” Somehow, in these barbarous times, Crosby had tapped into the “power of music, put into humble, throbbing words, as these fellows want it, need it, bow to it.”
Gary Giddins, Crosby’s indefatigable biographer, calls this aspect of his singing “a zone of emotional safety.” You could even claim that Bing Crosby invented emotional restraint in popular music. As leader of the first generation of singers to take advantage of the improved microphones of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Crosby grasped better than anyone the potential of conversational delivery. He was cool before cool was hip.
You could hardly find a more striking contrast to the Hitlerian rhetoric of the opposition. I’m not surprised Crosby got enlisted not to fight but to serve as, in Mr. Giddins’s words, “an essential voice of the home front.”
Yet Crosby, who was never as complacent as his public image, also insisted on taking his act into combat. He undertook brutal tours that brought him into danger, often performing during bombing raids and sometimes as close as a thousand yards from the German lines. As a result, Crosby added another honor to his list after the war: In a national poll to pick the most admired man alive, Bing Crosby finished at the top—beating out the pope (Pius XII), the president (Truman) and two legendary generals (Eisenhower and MacArthur). Pretty swell stuff for a crooner from Spokane.Yet fate is cruel to pop-culture icons once their original audience has died. When Gary Giddins started work on his Crosby biography in 1991, his subject was well-known, a household name even. But I suspect that a survey of music fans today would find that few can identify the entertainer so admired by their parents and grandparents (and, in many instances, their great-grandparents).For Crosby’s renown to endure, he needs to make the transition from faded star to timeless artist. Someone has to make the case for Crosby’s historical importance—and fortunately for Bing, Gary Giddins has taken up the gauntlet with surprising vehemence. Mr. Giddins is one of the leading music critics of the last half-century, and for many years set the tone for jazz coverage through his influential articles in the Village Voice. His opinions carried such weight that they were often mimicked by other writers within days of publication. He hasn’t written many articles in recent years, though—probably because of Bing Crosby.Mr. Giddins published “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams” in 2001, but this long-awaited book only covered the first half of the artist’s life, from 1903 to 1940. Readers have had to wait 17 years for a second volume—which, as it turns out, focuses just on the period from 1940 to 1946. You can do the math: Mr. Giddins has spent around two-and-a-half biographer years for each Bing year. Crosby lived until 1977, so either Mr. Giddins has to pick up the pace or this project will take until the end of the century to complete.Yet Mr. Giddins makes a strong case that Crosby’s World War II years deserve their own book. Crosby dominated almost every facet of mainstream entertainment during this tumultuous period. His radio program, Kraft Music Hall, entertained Americans at home. His records were in constant rotation on jukeboxes. And when people went to the movies, they invariably preferred his comedies for laughs (especially Crosby’s “Road” films with Bob Hope), his musicals for romance and glamour (“Blue Skies” and “Holiday Inn”), and his play-acting as an Irish-American priest (in “Going My Way” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s”) for homespun inspiration.It almost seems like a miracle, suitable for one of these religious films, that Crosby managed this workload while also touring constantly to raise money for the war effort and entertaining soldiers at home and abroad. This is where Mr. Giddins’s thorough research pays dividends. By digging into day-by-day and week-by-week itineraries, our biographer demands our admiration for Crosby’s unflagging efforts, often with little concern for personal rewards or favorable publicity. I always assumed that Bing Crosby, in private life, was as laid-back as his onstage image. I never knew this workaholic side of his character.Yet a Crosby biography has also to deal with less-appealing character issues. The entertainer’s son Gary accused his father of coldness and abusive treatment, and two of Crosby’s other children, Dennis and Lindsay, committed suicide—both with a shotgun. This has left many with an uneasy sense that the Crosby persona of easygoing affability was a façade for a darker private life.Mr. Giddins is surprisingly non-judgmental about this subject—especially when compared to his strong opinions on Crosby’s recordings. He chastises the performer when he “misses each and every high note” on a track or comes across as “stale and overemphatic” in delivering a lyric. But Crosby’s approach to child-rearing is never directly criticized, and often presented as symptomatic of its time and place. “In the lexicon of postwar psychology, [Crosby] might have been called a behaviorist,” Mr. Giddins explains at one point. Whenever possible, Mr. Giddins counterbalances the accusations of Gary with other views—for example, the testimony of his brother Phillip, who declared: “I just don’t see there was any way you could have asked for a better father.”But no one can accuse Mr. Giddins of shortchanging us on the facts. Every aspect of Crosby’s life is laid bare for close inspection in this penetrating biography, from his tough negotiations with employers to his most casual dealings with servants and staff. I especially enjoyed previously unpublished extracts from a fan’s diary that recount minute details of Crosby’s life from the perspective of two sisters who followed him wherever he went. Today they would be called stalkers, but the accounts they left behind offer many insights into how the leading entertainer of midcentury America acted when he thought he was unobserved—almost always with charm, courtesy and an appealing nonchalance.It’s hard to reconcile the different facets of this oddly private man who thrived in the limelight while maintaining such reserve. Yet the biggest obstacle to Mr. Giddins’s project may be less Crosby’s complexity than the sheer fickleness of public renown. Thirty years ago, a book of this sort would have found a huge audience. But nowadays any fans who heard Bing Crosby sing at the peak of his career would be in their 80s, if not older. He could easily be forgotten in a few years’ time.That’s a shame. Crosby was not just a celebrity, but one of the most influential performers of modern times. No artist did more to celebrate the sublimity that can come from understatement or the grace derived from keeping cool under pressure. We could benefit from an unflappable champion of serenity guiding our current-day pop culture. I certainly welcomed this reminder that we had one in our midst not long ago.—Mr. Gioia is the author of 10 books, most recently “How to Listen to Jazz.”

VERY late to the party here, but many thanks, Frans for doing this.
 

Last edited by paulmock (29/11/2018 5:37 pm)


All the best,
Paul M. Mock
 

05/12/2018 3:02 pm  #100


Re: Gary Giddins - Volume Two

A review in the form of a podcast here. It runs to 6 minutes and can be streamed or downloaded.
It includes snips of songs and Gary Giddins himself though I'm uncertain whether they were made for this podcast or taken from other material.

 

 

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