05/11/2013 7:07 pm  #1

"The First Hip White Person..."

As we know, Artie Shaw famously said, "The thing you have to understand about Bing Crosby is that he was the first hip white person born in the United States."

If you had to choose just one track to persuade a "non-Bing" person that this was the case, which track would you choose?

My own choice - not from the 30s, surprisingly - would be the '52 "That's a-Plenty" with Connee Boswell. For me, this track sums up everything I love best about Bing's way with the rhthym, the "swing", the bar-line - everything...

I'd be very interested to hear some other suggestions.


05/11/2013 8:37 pm  #2

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

Although I think ALL white people are hip, I'll pick something. "Dinah",I picture Bing in the Big Broadcast singing this-He was sooo hip!

Peace and Love! 

05/11/2013 8:52 pm  #3

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."


I am afraid that my choice isn't particularly original, but I would say his 1930s version of "Sweet Georgia Brown," which to me is the quintessential Bing jazz recording. I love the backing band and, of course, Bing's scatting and his very fast final line, "They call her Miss Sweet Georgia Brown!"

And then, perhaps I would add the 1957 album Bing with a Beat, with Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band.


05/11/2013 8:59 pm  #4

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

"Some of These Days," 1932.


05/11/2013 10:37 pm  #5

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

You make it too hard.
'Dinah', 'Some of these days', 'Shine', Sweet Georgia and so on.
Yes, I like 'That's a Plenty' as well. Would 'Rhythm on the River' count??
Too hard - think I'll have a coffee.


05/11/2013 11:13 pm  #6

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

Thanks for all the input so far...

Just one personal note... As always, nice to hear from you, Ron. Not sure what time it is where you are, but... "a coffee...?!" Last time I saw you, you had a pint of warm English ale in front of you!

     Thread Starter

06/11/2013 12:58 pm  #7

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

jeremyrose wrote:

Artie Shaw famously said, "The thing you have to understand about Bing Crosby is that he was the first hip white person born in the United States.".

Hmm  -- -  and Hmmm  again.

Within the confines of that question - "THE FIRST" just has to focus on the earliest period. Or is the birth date combined with a much later performance adequate evidence to prove the proposition? Possibly not, because surely that does not prove  that any new path is being trodden, and I think Artie was making a point about Bing starting something new.

And yes, Jeremy, I realise you set the question and came up with an answer from a much later period,  but I think that any answer that focuses on anything later than early thirties is open to challenge.. 

My answers therefore concentrate on the very early solos with Whiteman or just after, and my initial shortlist has to include "Mary" from 1927, and "Old Man River"  from early 1928 both of which display rhythmic and phrasing originality in the context of a white singer. Then there is just possibly "From Monday On" and "Tain't So Honey, 'tain't So" from mid 1928.  Advancing a little in time, there is "Dinah"  from 1931 with the Mills Brothers and from 1932 there is "St Louis Blues" with the Duke.

From this short list I personally would select "Mary", partly because it is the first, and partly because I like it. Surely anything much later is, in my view, open to the challenge of "proposition unproven", because by then some followers and imitaters were beginning to take the same path - less successfully certainly, for some years, but if you take performances from the 40s and 50s you have examples from other performers that could be "used in evidence"!


06/11/2013 3:16 pm  #8

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

Thanks for your input, Richard and please - challenge away..!

I completely agree that the logical place to start looking for justification of Artie Shaw's statement would be the early material and any of the tracks so far mentioned could easily be used.

I chose "That's a-Plenty" because - well, I like it, and it encapsulates for me everything that Bing had been doing supremely well for more than 20 years. I agree that by 1952 you could point to any number of imitaters, but any doubters could be referred back to - for example - the recording of "Mary" on the morning of November 25th, 1927 for confirmation that "Bing started it all..."

I admit, however, that I did originally ask for only one track. Let's open it up a bit and have some lists, then...

Thanks for the interest so far.

     Thread Starter

06/11/2013 8:21 pm  #9

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

I'm in Washington State - 9 hours behind you.
As Anita says, she comes from Washington AC (above California) and not DC.
I think I like BC - below Canada.
'Ol' Man River' - Bing's earlier version was really moving it along, just like in the later years.
In the 40's he made 2 recordings of the song but in different tempos compared to other recordings of it.
I like the upbeat of the early and latter versions, but I like Paul Robeson's version, which is much slower.
Peter Dawson would have recorded it and he is the only other singer to have pumped out so many records - may have done more than Bing, but Bing probably sang more than Peter because of the advent of the wireless and TV.
I believe it's hot BIA. Cool here.


07/11/2013 2:24 am  #10

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

I'll go for another Crosby-Boswell duet, 'Yes indeed'. In case anyone's wondering,  Peter Dawson, to whom Ron Field referred, was an acclaimed Aussie baritone who, according to his biographers (Smith & Burgis), had the distinction of recording for Edison cylinders, 78 rpm discs and LP records. Much of his career was in Great Britain and he recorded under his own name and a few dozen pseudonyms. They traced about 1500 recordings but admit there would have been others they could not find.


07/11/2013 9:44 pm  #11

Re: "The First Hip White Person..."

Like, Richard, I think if you want to verify Bing's FIRST-ness in this category, then I think you do need to select something from the late 1920's or early 1930's, like "'Taint So" or another number in which Bing's even scat sings.  I keep thinking of "Young and Healthy"; I can't recall if it actually contains scatting, but the rhythmic singing is certainly innovative for its time.

If the idea is to show that Bing was indeed HIP at sometime in his career, then my selection (drawn from radio not just records) might be "Choo-Choo-Boogie," "Route 66" (with Andrews Sisters, I think it is), "Now You Has Jazz," or even a ballad like "I Can't Get Started," with Rosie. Suddenly, too many others are coming to mind.

Keep in mind, however, that Shaw probably isn't just talking about Bing's songs.  He's talking about Bing's way of listenting to, laughing along with, and going about working with members of the band.  He's talking about what Bing paid attention to in music, songs, life--about what kind of importance Bing gave those things.  This is something the authors of The Hollow Man book didn't understand, when they try to run down Bing with an example of when he ditched one or two nights with Arnheim's band (I think it was) in order to drive over a hundred miles to hear Armstrong play.  To their feeble minds, this showed how irresponsible and undeserving Bing was.  Shaw would have understood that the Bing he was talking about HAD TO do that,because of the value he placed on Armstrong's music, knowing that music was good for his soul and his growing in his chosen art.


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