Will Friedwald on Bing

Candace Scott posted 02/05/06 06:10 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I've never much cared for Will Friedwald's opinions on Bing's influence upon popular music. Of course he prefers Sinatra and is a noted Sinatraphile, which is great. But to dispute Crosby's tremendous impact on popular music is noth disingenuous and inaccurate.

The other day I was leafing through one of my Bing scrapbooks and got my nose out of joint over this Friedwald quote from about 6 years ago:

"The whole of popular music before Sinatra can be described as a gradual building towards Sinatra. First, there was Jolson, who was great at what he did, and then Bing Crosby built on what Jolson had done. Then along comes Sinatra who brings what they did together and builds on it."

Now undoubtedly this is all true, but to dismiss Bing as merely building on what Jolson did is nonsense. Bing was a hugely more important, talented and greater singer singer than Jolson.

Friedwald goes on to correctly say that Bing was a major influence on Frank and that Frank was a greater interpreter of lyrics than Bing. Again, all true. I just resent that Friedwald seems to see Bing as merely someone who inspired/created Sinatra and that his greatest achivement was being a precursor to Frank.

For me Sinatra never sounded like Bing and was unique in that he sounded like no one else and developed as no had before. Como and Dino were direct imitators of Bing, not Sinatra.

I feel Friedwald slights Bing in not appreciating his tremendous impact on popular music and the quality of his voice. I can't imagine even the most vociferous Frank fan claiming Frank had a better voice than Bing. Perhaps he was a better singer, but he did not have the caliber of singing voice, surely.
Brian W. posted 02/05/06 06:23 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I agree. In my opinion, Bing simply had a better voice, a better instrument, than Frank. I'm not that big of a Sinatra fan for one reason: I've never paricularly cared for the sound of his voice, regardless of his delivery.

But then Friedwald says in the liner notes to the Sinatra "Complete Capitol Singles Collection" that Capitol should have put the "newer fellas" line on the single version of "Well Did You Evah," and that surely it would have been more of a hit if they had.

Uh... it was on the single. They just mixed it out on the stereo remix for CD. Some Sinatraphile he is.
Judy Schmid posted 02/05/06 06:48 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I believe Will was writing a book on Sinatra - and to that subject he needed to pay homage - I have no problem w/that. If you read his many liner notes on Bing CD sets, you'll see he's quite the Bing fan. At the Crosby conference he had a lot of detailed narrative to share about Bing and his singing...
Judy Schmid posted 02/05/06 06:51 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
"Newer Fellas" is also on MY copy of the single..but..I have a friend who has another version of the single withOUT that line - apparently that line was eliminated in a later run...probably years later, but both singles are out there...
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/05/06 07:25 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
No one, especially Will, would dispute Crosby's influence on popular music.

Who had a BETTER VOICE is a matter of opinion. Sinatra did not have the "richness" of Bing's lower register but he could singer higher and only Dick Haymes could match Sinatra's "carry-over" phrasing which they both derived from Tommy Dorsey's trombone playing.

But this is also part of the story of comparing the two singers. Bing did not END an era. Sinatra, and WW2, ended the "Big Band" era and commenced the era of THE SINGERS which lasted until the Rock and Roll era.
George posted 02/05/06 09:24 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
All musical tastes are ultimately subjective. Critics will differ just like fans of different artists do.

Regarding the "longer" phrasing, breath control aspect, I would add Perry Como to the list.

Bing's phrasing was, on the other hand, more innately rhythmic, which is why to my ears he flows, while the others jog along. Bing swings naturally on ballads, as well as on up-tempo numbers, whereas with Sinatra in particular, the 'swing' is a function of the (usually) Riddle crafted arrangements.

The variation in phrasing, as well as other factors such as tone, timbre, range are what define each singer's overall individual style.
Arne posted 02/06/06 01:40 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I'm sorry, Candace, but this is silly nitpicking. There has been NO writer of any influence in the jazz or popular field in the last 35 years (with the exception of Gary Giddins, of course), who has a more positive impact on the critical appreciation of Bing Crosby than has Will Friedwald. Read his book "Jazz Singing". Read his liner notes to Bing CDs and just about every other singer whom he's annotated, wherein he always manages to slip in an intelligent, perceptive, and positive quote about Bing and his impact. Friedwald is describing a music that has a history, a line of evolution, a series of tributary influence and inspiration that has nothing to do with which guy has a prettier voice than the other. I FIRMLY believe that Will's influence upon the positive re-assesment of Crosby by the critical jazz world over the last 15 years has been nearly as great as Mr. Giddin's, and miles ahead of anyone else's. This guy SINGLE-HANDEDLY put Bing back on the map in 1990 with his "Jazz Singing" masterpiece. His book on Sinatra (the best ever written on the subject), is full of positive references to Bing.
Harley posted 02/06/06 04:02 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Arne is right on. To criticize Friedwald for not being pro-Bing enough is like criticizing water for not being wet enough. It's laughable.

To be fair, I s'pose if one's only exposure to Friedwald was the above quote, then some confusion could occur. I remember someone criticizing Friedwald on here once because Friedwald was being interviewed at the time of Frank Sinatra's passing, and didn't mention Bing ENOUGH! Frank Sinatra just died and Will Friedwald is on CNN or something, and he's talking about Bing! And that's not enough!!! Give me a break! Well, as I recall, Mr. Friedwald was good enough to come post himself and set things straight, declaring Jimmy Durante the greatest. He's smart, he's funny, he's honest, and he is an absolute unabashed fan of Bing Crosby. Any person who claims to be a fan of jazz/pop singing, and hasn't read the book "Jazz Singing," needs to do so before they try to judge Will Friedwald OR enter ANY kind of serious discusssion about his views. What a joke.
Candace Scott posted 02/07/06 07:29 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I agree it's nit picking, but nit picking about Bing is part and parcel of this Message Board. I didn't criticize Will for "not being pro Bing," but for under-appreciating his impact upon popular music. Yes, I own a copy of "Jazz Singing" and have read it more than once. That wasn't the crux of my message, Harley, which you misrepresented and expanded upon in order to make whatever point you were trying to make.

The point Will made and which I disputed in my message is his contention that Bing Crosby merely was "a building up" to Frank Sinatra. This minimizes Bing's impact to a ludicrous degree.

All of the rest of this defense of Will is extraneous to my message and to the quote I presented. I'm well aware he admires Bing, but his contention that Bing's influence was limited to being a precursor to Frankie is errant nonsense.
Harley posted 02/07/06 08:41 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Candace, you are a beautiful person. Since I cannot reach out and kiss you right now, in celebration of your beauty, let me instead refocus my response to your posts.

Here, again, is the Friedwald quote:

"The whole of popular music before Sinatra can be described as a gradual building towards Sinatra. First, there was Jolson, who was great at what he did, and then Bing Crosby built on what Jolson had done. Then along comes Sinatra who brings what they did together and builds on it."

I think this is a description of how Frank Sinatra’s musical identity was formed. I think Will Friedwald, speaking of Bing, might say the same thing - that the whole of popular music up to Bing was a gradual building towards Bing. The subject Friedwald was writing about, however, is Sinatra.

I do not see anywhere that W.F. thinks of Bing as MERELY a tributary leading to Sinatra. If you have read “Jazz Singing” I don’t know how you could possibly think that either, as Friedwald carries on at length about Bing’s contributions, far in excess of what I’d ever expect in a book about jazz singing. In fact, I was elated to find that Will Friedwald was a great, great champion of Bing, and gave Bing credit (and vindication) beyond my wildest dreams.

Candace, beautiful person that you are aside, I think you’ve made an error. All available information, and there is quite a bit, suggests that Will Friedwald does not undervalue Bing Crosby’s contributions to popular music, or see him as merely a precursor to Sinatra. Simply put, I think you are WRONG. As I said in my first post, I do believe that the W.F. quote you posted could be misleading to someone experiencing it in a vacuum.

If you care to persist, I request fresh support for your hypothesis, unless you are laboring under the conceptual pretext that we are experiencing this Friedwald quote in a vacuum of zero context, which would be rather odd, I think.

I’ll end with my own Will Friedwald quote, from a post he made to this very message board over three years ago:

“I have tried to do what I can for Bing Crosby's reputation over the years, but it's nothing compared to what he has done for me.”
Arne posted 02/07/06 11:33 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
"Crosby was the figure who had done the most to define 20th Century vernacular pop culture: he was pop music, and pop music was him."

-- Will Friedwald (liner notes to "BING WITH A BEAT" CD re-issue, 2004)
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/08/06 06:08 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Crosby WAS a precursor to Sinatra.

What you are also calling "ludicrous' and "errant nonsense" is also, unfortunately, the prevalent perception of Will and many others.

Sinata's achievements and contributions, rightly or wrongly, OVERSHADOW Bing's contributions and achievements.

Sinatra's body of work is more unified by theme and concept while Bing's body of work is more far more diverse in style and genre and not as appreciated by writers who seek "depth".

All singers of atandards today are judged relative to Sinatra, Bing included. Will cannot be faulted for grasping and acknowledging these FACTS.
Dieter Beier posted 02/08/06 07:44 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Would it be right to say Bing Crosby was a "natural" singer and Frank Sinatra was an "artificial" singer? For Bing singing was life as breathing,eating and drinking. Bing sung not only on stage,film,radio and record- Bing´s life was a sole song,melody was the rhythm of his blood.Listen to all the reports about this topic! Rosemary Clooney(also the type of artificial singer at his finest)told,that Bing practically was singing or whistling to nearly every occasion, when he was riding bycicle, when he was walking the steps downstairs. Or it was reported that Bing sung also after his fall down at Pasadena. Rosie-if she had have no recording dates or concerts for a half year-she did have sung privately.Same was told about Frank,that he rarely sung,if he was not working.Bing´s (best) singing came directly out of his "private" heart.Therefore Bing´s singing was often best,when he could do it with a simple-unartificial-arrangement or with a small group of musicians.Also some fine moments are the clips Bing have had sung in many films-partly without instrumental accompaniment.That were the moments Bing was perhaps most private.For his Buddy Cole songs Bing wished uncomplicated arrangements from Pete Moore. On the Barbara Walters Show Bing claimed that He have had no philosophy for his life.Bing have the joy to every single melody at its own and didn´t wished to built up pyramids.He sung most songs for the moment and not for the eternity,that was what he was believing himself(to summon different sources and interviews).Other singers thought many times to often on posterity.These facts make Bing´s heritage not ever simple accessible for our generations and explicable,why Bing´s music is such a great treasury,worth for many following generations.

Bing´s versatility is one of the trademarks of our crooner.And it makes no difference if he sing Dixieland, Hillbilly, Hawaian, Irish material, operettas, chansons, hymns, country, blues he made it ever his own and croons it ever in his specific, typical and distinctive way. If Bing sung a western song,he got no western singer,he stays THE crooner,who sang a western ballad.That´s are the way some critize, but if someone can do it his own so good as Bing-it have it´s right.In earlier they said about Bing,that he could croon also the New York telephone book and it would be good.A short time ago I listened Bing singing The Beer Barrel Polka-and he made this barumdera and tralala and uphdada in a happy version his own,crooning and "swinging" even a polka.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/08/06 09:38 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Dieter: I agree with "most" of your post. Bing was a "Natural" but Sinatra was NOT artifical.

Sinatra's singing was never "mere entertainment". It demanded an emotional involvement from the audience.

Bing's great VERSATILITY has it's down side similar to Elvis' great VERSATILITY. Sinatra concentrated more on "matters of the heart" and thus had more DEPTH in that subject than either singer.

Bing DIRECTLY influenced the greatest generation of singers produced in the 20th century.

Perhaps he was a precursor to Sinatra's SINGING the way Ulysses S. Grant was a precursor to Dean Martin's DRINKING?
Dieter Beier posted 02/08/06 04:39 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Perhaps I have expressed it not totally with the right word,Ronald,but I wanted not to say anything negative against Frank-one of the real great singer.I tried to charakterize and to sharpen the differences of Bing and Frank´s singing,although both are called crooners.But their ways and intentions of singing are quite different. And I believe everyone who likes and enjoy popular singing with full heart and emotions favored these two boys-perhaps in different grades to his personal preferences.This should be no new "war" of the crooners,some have declared in the 30ties with Bing,Vallee and Columbo and the 40ties with with Bing, Sinatra and Como.How real and serious this "war" was,I could not judge as I was born in the 60ties.
Joe McGrenra posted 02/08/06 06:46 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I feel I have to comment here. First, I must say that I am a huge fan of both Bing and Sinatra. I think the way to evaluate it is that a lot of excellent Post-Crosby singers (Dean Martin, Perry Como, etc.) are rightly compared to Bing. Sinatra is the sole (at least the sole major exception), as he created his own style. Looking at just the end of their careers, Bing left a whole bunch of new recordings (and albums)in the 1970's. Sinatra had his two biggest sellers in "Duets" and "Duets II", but they were remakes of his hits with other performers dubbed in however just a few years before late 1980's he recorded three fine songs "The Girls I Never Kissed", "Only One To A Customer", and "My Foolish Heart", which were outstanding. I often thought it was a shame that Sinatra didn't find a Ken Barnes/Pete Moore in those last few years. His post-Duets last album, "LA Is My Lady" is actually excellent with the exception of the title tune. Too bad they didn't call it "Mack the Knife".
howard crosby posted 02/08/06 08:17 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing once said, "A singer like Sinatra comes along only once in a lifetime. It's a shame it had to be during my lifetime."

Of course, Bing was notoroiusly modest about his own abilities.
Mike 2 posted 02/08/06 08:41 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Candace, I am more than happy to come to your rescue though I doubt if you need my help. You appear to be perfectly capable of defending yourself.

For the record - and you will hardly thank me for this - I was the person responsible for bringing Mr. Friedwald to the attention of the ICC for the very first time. This, I hasten to add, was not due to any great foresight on my part. Rather was it due to the fact that, after the manner of some lucky reporter, I happened to be at the right place at a particular time.

The time was some fifteen years ago, back in the summer of 1990. I was preparing a brief article for the then British based BING magazine whose membership was by far the largest of the extant Crosby organizations. The place, you could say, referred to a weekly magazine put out by the Jesuits which was entitled AMERICA. A self-styled "journal of ideas" it normally dealt with a host of social, political and theological issues. It had nothing whatever to do with popular music. This is an important point and I shall return to it presently. Besides, it was unlikely to be read by the average U. K. fan, a readership which I primarily had in mind.

Fortunately, the cultured and well informed Editor, Fr. George Hunt (do Jesuits come in any other sizes?), was not unacquainted with the Great American Songbook. A few months earlier, he had included an excellent tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, albeit just in passing, in his brief editorial.
Then along came his mention of Will Friedwald's JAZZ SINGING and comment: "If Friedwald's book circulates properly, it ought to revive interest in the great Der Bingle, who mightily deserves it at long last." Again, it was not a review, just a passing mention in an editorial. The main body of the magazine concerned itself with an entirely different range of subjects.

Now, fast-forward some dozen odd years to the time of Sinatra's death. I rather imagine I must be the "someone" referred to who criticised Friedwald who was being interviewed and "who did not mention Bing ENOUGH" (sic). The reality was a little more complex than what was outlined there. I was living in London at the time of Bing's passing.
In the midst of our grief at this sudden turn of events, we were in some small way consoled by the fact that the BBC announcer had interrupted the evening television bulletin to carry news of Bing's sudden death on a Spanish golf course. This interruption, if not unprecedented, was something exceedingly rare.

However, the intervening quarter of a century had brought great changes to the communications industry. By now, we had a proliferation of cable channels, all of them extremely competitive, chasing a limited number of news items. As Kingsley Amis once suggested, more generally means worse. Sinatra's death was a godsend and they pursued it relentlessly. Thus, you had rolling telecasts going on simultaneously over several channels and for several days.

Friedwald was one of a number of "talking heads" who was there commenting on Sinatra's contribution to popular song. He seemed to appear on a number of channels though whether this was part of a single interview chopped into shorter segements and later recycled, or otherwise, I cannot say. Like most people, I just tuned in at rare intervals.

To your credit, Candace, you were commendably forthright in your comments as you have every right to be. By contrast, my contribution was low-key almost to the point of invisibility. I stated mildly that I was slightly disappointed that Friedwald had not made more of Crosby's formative influence especially in view of his comments some dozen years earlier in the aforementioned book. I added, not once but repeatedly, that I only caught his contributions at odd intervals and may have missed those instances where he may have been more forthcoming on that same subject.

This brief, anodyne comment was met with a blistering reaction from one poster, a reaction which moreover was expressed in highly intemperate language. He, it seems, had just read the book for the first time, fallen in love with it and, like a dog with a bone, resented anyone else coming close. One would have thought that someone who had scaled a summit for the first time (to change the metaphor) might have shown, if not deference, at least a certain wariness and circumspection when confronted with a climber who had reached that pinnacle some dozen years previously. Not a bit of it.

To make matters worse, although he did not know me or the sky over me, he somehow took it into his head that I was a narrow minded Crosby bigot whose interests were sharply limited. Apparently, he would show me that there was a big wide world beyond etc...

Appalled by this impertinence, I thought it best, nevertheless, at that juncture to defuse what had turned into a sudden and unaccountably overheated exchange. Like most people, I am aware of the gaps in my knowledge. But of one thing I am certain. I am the World's Leading Authority on my own purchasing habits. So I calmly and politely set out my record purchases for the previous six months. These ranged from Mahler to Grieg, to Sibelius, to Chopin, to Mozart and on to Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Shearing and Oscar Peterson etc., etc. It is some years ago now, but I feel pretty sure I mentioned that, apart from the Jonzo series which I am committed to buying, I had not purchased a single Crosby record in years. Indeed, I rarely if ever listen to what is loosely called popular music

Any normal person, had he been stupid enough to make such a rash judgement on such little evidence would have immediately rushed to amend his miscalculation. I cannot regulate for other people, but I myself without the slightest difficulty would have said, "Sorry, I stand corrected." Apologies did not, alas, seem to be in this individual's armoury of responses. All I got was a petulant reply along the lines of :"We accept what you say; no need to spell it out at length." Not a single word of explanation for his precipitate judgment. It was, just in case anyone had not noticed, really all MY fault.

Unfortunately, crudity of expression is often matched with corresponding crudity of thought process. This brings me, after that lengthy, but necessary, preamble to my main point.

When an argument or discussion degenerates, it is useful to examine first of all the language employed. The word "rant" somehow was introduced though not, I think, by the poster in question. This has recently for some reason become a much overused, off-the-peg term. That incomparable prose stylist, Evelyn Waugh, used it towards the end of "Brideshead Revisited". He used it precisely and was precisely correct in context. Here it was not used correctly and, whether consciously or not, it skewed the whole discussion.

For Friedwald to have mentioned Crosby at the time of Sinatra's death - this was the idea put forward - would have meant breaking into a rant [note the loaded word] on a topic which was both untimely and irrelevant. This, of course, was arrant nonsense. Friedwald was not, at least when I heard him, delivering a panegyric. He was giving his assessment of Sinatra's place among modern popular singers. Formative influences on his singing style were highly relevant. As Tony Bennett observed, every singer of his generation and later who approached the microphone also passed through the shadow of Bing Crosby.

A simple analogy should bring this point out more clearly. Let us suppose for argument's sake that Friedwald was not a journalist with an interest in popular music, but a travel writer such as Jan Morris, Jonathan Raban, Eric Newby, or that ilk. Let us further suppose that he was giving a talk on Alaskan coastal waters and the Inside Passage in particular. Should he digress, for purposes of comparison, on to the topic of the fiords of Norway or their equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere, he would not be indulging in some irrelevant "rant". On the contrary, it would be to anybody who has been to these places (as I have and I am sure have other posters on this board), an expected and appropriate digression. If, on the other hand, in the middle of this disquisition he broke into a passionate examination of the binomial theorem, of course the men in long white coats would soon come along to collect him.

The use of "the straw man" or "Aunt Sally" whereby you do not confront someone's views directly, but rather attack your own distortion of the opponent's position, is a long discredited debating ploy. I am quite certain that Bing's Jesuit tutors would have made sure that he avoided such cheap tactics when taking the floor.

I later mentioned this discussion to someone whom I regard as one of the brightest members of the ICC. Suffice it to say, Candace, that you are far from being alone in your views.

Incidentally, contrary to what has been stated in this thread, Bing's rehabilitation had begun years before either Friedwald or Giddins had appeared on the scene. The celebrated English jazz critic, Derek Jewell, had written a lengthy apologia for Bing in The Sunday Times (London) back in the mid-Seventies. This paper catered for what was arguably the most sophisticated readership in the English speaking world. What was even more important was that it was a readership which would normally have paid scant attention to such "low culture" luminaries as Crosby or Sinatra. Shortly before that, the music critic of the International Herald Tribune, Henry Pleasants, had written a book with another sophisticated, opera going audience in mind. In it, he pays tribute to Crosby (and Sinatra as well) stating that "no other singer, it seems to me, has been as inadequately assessed." Nor should we forget Alistair Cooke's famous tribute which has since been reprinted in many books, if only for the colossal listening audience which he commanded at his peak through the World Service of the BBC.

Finally, let me say that I rarely if ever stop by this site nowadays. However, I was drawn to it by some comments you made on "Now You Has Jazz", comments with which, once again, I completely concur.
Harley posted 02/09/06 01:50 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Mike 2, though your post was addressed to Candace, I could not help but peek at the contents. I was surprised, nay, SHOCKED to read what I perceived to be veiled swipes at myself! SHOCKED I say, and let me add that, should you care to quote me, putting “(sic)” after my dramatically capitalized “SHOCKED” bit will help you to appear superior. Gentlemanly of you to stick up for Candace, however, as the unevenness of the entire thread had begun to make me a bit queasy. I’d really wanted to talk to Candace about her views, but we’ve really expanded into all sorts of areas, haven’t we?

Dear Mike 2, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but my new debating ploy is to offer hugs and kisses to all players, and said pleasures are yours for the taking. With regards to the past, I will concede one point, and that is that I, in my 20s, reacted rather angrily in any kind of debate (silly me) and perhaps flew off the handle a bit. Frankly, in those days I seemed to be lashing out at anyone and everyone, and I’m dread to admit that these rages were fueled by cheap scotch more often than not. I even lashed out at my cleaning woman when, good woman that she is, she accidentally vacuumed up my collection of Will Friedwald’s toenail clippings. Now, in place of drinking alcohol, I cook with it. I am making a lovely Valentine’s dish with Lurgashall Mead, and wish that my lady love and I could have you to supper, but I must confide that my relatively new habit of free love-giving unnerves her, and I fear that your presence could result in a quarrel.

Now then, back to the subject at hand. I await your relevant points regarding Will Friedwald’s undervaluing of Bing Crosby’s contributions to popular music and culture. Evidence is appreciated, and quotes are especially valued. We should base this discussion around facts, and try to be a bit more concise in our posts. Mike 2, you and I are a couple of pompous windbags, and I suspect that this has not gone unnoticed by our fellow posters. Frankly, I’m becoming a bit bored with the topic, but perhaps some vigorous Wagner will get my passions aroused, though I believe it was Gore Vidal who said “Bing Crosby put you to sleep, Sinatra got the blood flowing.” Although I disagree with Mr. Vidal, vehemently no less, a good ring-a-ding-ding may in fact do this ol’ boy some good.

Mike 2, I hope that you are well, as I must cop to some inexplicable attraction to smug, superior types. I should be able to rejoin this conversation in about a week, but for now I am off to my little “cabin in the pines,” which is blessedly free of the internet and accompanying temptations of pornography, commerce, 24 hour news, and occasionally edifying debate.

This is fun Mike 2, thanks for showing up. Your posts are charming and I love them.
Ben Weaver posted 02/09/06 01:31 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly

Boy, William Shakespeare had nothing on you guys. I'm taking them up to the Theatre Department at the University this afternoon to see if they can make them into a play.
Candace Scott posted 02/10/06 11:12 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Gentlefolk of the Crosby Board (or should I say "hats and cats?")...

As the originator of this (now lamentable thread), I feel it my duty to again state the crux of the original message:

"I resent that Friedwald seems to see Bing as merely someone who inspired/created Sinatra and that his greatest achivement was being a precursor to Frank."

All the resulting hysteria misrepresents the original post. Will is entitled to his esteemed opinion but when he says Bing is simply a precursor to Frank he belittles Crosby's singular contributions to popular music.

Now, having inadvertently opened up (again) the now tedious Bing versus Frank dialogue, I will say this: I prefer Bing's voice to Sinatra a thousand times. But I think Sinatra was the greater singer and by far he handled his recording career with greater acumen than Bing. I've stated here many times that Bing allowed Jack Kapp too much influence over his song selection and could be criticized as "jack of all trades, master of none." Sinatra didn't bother with Hawaiian music, cowboy songs, Irish songs and all the rest which I feel (my opinion, only, lads and lassies) compromised his musical catalogue.

I'm not saying that a few of Bing's western songs (Sioux City Sue, Deep in the Heart of Texas) or Irish songs (Galway Bay, Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral) aren't stellar, but many of them are not up to snuff.

My wish would have been that Bing only sang the great standards by Gershwin, Cole Porter and spent 80% of his time doing jazz work. As a male jazz singer, I believe Bing had no equal in his prime.

Sinatra's ability to phrase a lyric, show pathos, longing and emotion in his singing and surround himself with Riddle/exquisitiely gifted sidemen seals the deal for me: he was the *superior* singer, with an *inferior* voice to Crosby. His work for Capitol and Reprise blows away most of what Bing did, who chose to use people like John Trotter, who has many defenders here. All I can say is, Trotter ain't no Riddle, that's for sure.

I love both Sinatra and Crosby for different reasons. Will F. can prefer Sinatra's music to Bing all he wants, but don't casually dismiss Bing's impact upon popular music to just being a warm up man for Frankie. That was my beef.
Candace Scott posted 02/10/06 11:37 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Apologies for not shutting up, but one final point I forgot to make in the prior post.

Someone took umbrage with my avowed belief that "Will's contention that Bing's influence was limited to being a precursor to Frankie is errant nonsense."

Using this logic, then the following musicians were merely precursors to the Beatles--????

Chuck Berry
Buddy Holly
Little Richard
Carl Perkins
There's no doubt th Beatles are greater than any of these 50's stars, but all of them are greater than merely being dismissed as "precursors." They all had their niche in music history and contributed little bits and pieces that helped shape greater acts that followed, like the Beatles.

To my dying day, I will never accept that a singer of Crosby's stature, talent and influence can be relegated to the role of someone who merely "preceded" and "built up to" Frank Sinatra. As if Sinatra was the only singer worth squat in the 20th century? To the Friedwald hagiographers out there, this shows an amazing lack of knowledge about both Crosby and his impact upon successive generations of singers.

End of diatribe (for now).
Steven Lewis posted 02/10/06 12:37 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Candace, I don't see why you should "resent" Will for his alleged views that Bing's major achievement was to inspire Sinatra. To my way of thinking (and to Sinatra's) that was a pretty important achievement in itself. Will showed up at the Gonzaga centennial and was quite complimentary of Bing. Even if his view of Bing were as limited as you say, he is a scholar who is as entitled to his opinion as any fan. It would be a dull world if we all thought exactly alike. I doubt Will would resent you for your opinion of Bing any more than you should resent him.
Arne posted 02/10/06 01:01 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Candace, thanks for once again offering us what you consider to be the "crux" of your point in a simplified way. Similarly, the ""crux" of MY point (and Harley's too, I think), is that you have taken one "soundbite" of Will's and used that to suppose his position on Bing, while ignoring the HUGE body of Will's other works which directly refutes your characterization. I flatly refuse to accept that Will Friedwald believes that Bing Crosby's only worth was as a lead-in to Sinatra, and despite your (out of context) quote, I can look back books-worth of Friedwald's writings to support the fact that Will is extremely aware of Bing's superior place in pop history. Your personal feelings re: Sinatra-Crosby, and the other rock-era folks are interesting and I'm very glad to read them, but I don't think they have any bearing on what we're talking about: Friedwald's body of work.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/10/06 01:23 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
"ORIGINATORS" are always "precursors" to what comes after them. However true greatness is not relative. It does not detract from their contribution. It only serves to enhance it.

Bing was an ORIGINATOR and thus a precursor. However Sinatra is NOT a precursor to anyone. He represents the "FULFILLMENT" of what Bing originated.

Just as Sinatra ended the "Big Band Era" many writers have speculated that after him a new and different type or style of popular music had to develop as there was no longer any need for another way to sing the standards.
Joe McGrenra posted 02/10/06 02:15 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I must comment again. I think Crosby and Sinatra are both giants. I prefer Bing's voice (slightly), but feel Sinatra was the better singer and the much better manager of his recorded work. His Columbia work is very similar to the variety that Bing did (mostly at Decca), but he "took charge" of what to recorded and his work at Capital and Decca played to his strengths. Either one (even out of their prime) are so much better than what passes for popular music today.
Arne posted 02/10/06 04:06 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Ronald, I agree totally with your remarks directly above, and couldn't have said it better. I've often described Bing as the "pioneer" and Frank as the "culmination"... the man who made the "final statement" as to how this music is to be sung. That's why no one has improved on the Sinatra style when singing traditional pop music, as Frank made the "final statement". This does not mean that Bing's contribution wasn't of equal measure, nor does it side-step the fact that Bing was capable of doing dozens of things musically that Frank was incapable of. That aside, both men had careers that were unique unto themselves, and fascinating in totally different ways.

A side issue: As time goes by, and my understanding of music history, experience in performance, etc. grows, I become more and more convinced that Bing's skills in delivery and interpretation would have much more keenly appreciated by the "tastemakers" if only he'd continued with live, public performing thoughout his peak years - as did Frank and all the rest of his followers. That aside, I'm grateful for what Crosby left us all - and personally I find his legacy far more varied, colorful, and bountiful than Frank's, or anybody else's.
Dieter Beier posted 02/10/06 04:18 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
If Bing would have done only jazz work,he wouldn´t been THE Bing the world have admired over so many decades.Jack Kapp was certainly the right man-not only to make Bing to the biggest record seller,but to help Bing to create his carreer with all the versatility because Bing´s personlity was very versatile.Perhaps many from you will stone me,but I will claim that Kapp helped Bing sing along in the mid 30ties.Bing was certainly at the peak of his singing at that time (although he sung nearly anything from the great songwriters as Astaire with thin voice,but eccellent feeling for such material).But Bing reached a point of singing,that wasn´t no more to top.If Bing would sung in that way 5 years longer it would have been Manerism and only self-repeating and his stardom would have sunk rapidly with all the competition of the swing bands.Kapp was there to lead Bing new ways and give him the chance for such a fabulous and long carrier.Bing´s singing wasn´t perhaps again so supreme,but it got more and more natural.There were also the stories about his tonsil problems.I´m thinking they are not so important for this chance of artistry.Bing likes many of the country,Hawaian,Irish,chansons...songs.Kapp haven´t Bing persuade only sometimes to sing special tunes.And as "poor man´s Sinatra" Bing didn´t wished the image of the intellectual. And if Bing sung Gershwin and Co -he did it most unpretentious without over action.But look at the Bing andBuddy Cole discography of his late radio songs.I´m sure that are mostly Bing´s own selections,then you have an imagination of songs Bing loved-there was Gershwin and Porter,but also many todays less known.As I have said earlier Bing lives singing,he enjoyed it naturally.So I will declare also Bing´s fun on the many monumental medleys,that he sung on TV and concerts(and some of his sing along LP´s).That´s all is certainly thoroughly unmodern today against all the fine and "complete" Sinatra songs.Riddle did with Bing some TV work and the Return To Paradise LP and Robin And His 7 Hood and he did it in an other way as with Frank-special for Bing´s personality.And Trotter?-He made most unpetentious arrangements for Bing,that don´t divertet from Bing´s natural singing.so got it effectful in it´s own manner and Bing have had many liberties.And the jazzy element is nearly ever obvious or at least latent present,whatever Bing sung (and even if he sung with Lawrence Welk the Beer Barrel Polka). So Bing was the greatest of all crooners,because of how great he was also partly poor song material.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/10/06 05:47 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Arne: Let allow me to also agree with what you have said.

Crosby created a body of work that encompassed all genres of popular music before Rock and Roll. It is UNMATCHED in it's scope and allowed subsequent generations of singers to find portions of it to explore and develop and create their own careers.

His major achievement was creating the art of intimate singing and knowing how to use the microphone which set him apart from Jolson.

As you stated Crosby's contribution was of a different nature than Sinatra's.

Sinatra's body of work encompasses the most achingly vulnerable collection of musical autobiography created by any artist.

His major achievement was in knowing how to use the long playing album to accomplish this and which set him apart from Crosby.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/10/06 06:43 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Dieter: Jack Kapp wanted Bing to be "all things to all people". He succeeded in this mission.

However in having Father O'Malley dispense communion to the masses; his communion wafer may have spread too thin and left some feeling not quite filled.

This is what Sinatra saw as an opportunity.
Mike 2 posted 02/10/06 09:10 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
BarryB, thank you for your kind comments. You were always a gentleman. Harley, I have long suspected that you were really the incarnation of Henry Root who even took Lady Thatcher for a sleighride. He made me laugh more than anyone I know over the past half century, and that includes Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell. If you are, "fess up" and I'll take my hat off to you.

You were right about one thing. Although I have not been back there for years, I am actually a paid up member of the Oxford Union where I once enjoyed the cut and thrust of debate at close quarters. It was, as you say, tailor-made for a smug, superior old windbag like myself. I was terrified to admit this to you earlier lest you might be tempted to come around and kiss me.

I should have mentioned that the Derek Jewell article which first appeared in the Sunday Times was deemed so important that it was later reprinted and incorporated in the programmes given out during Bing's Palladium concerts. However, I prefer to remember it as it appeared in its original setting.
Arne posted 02/10/06 10:59 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Mike 2,

I remember Jewell's article on Bing in the Palladium program of 1977, I think it was..... Perceptive and interesting. Jewell was a respected writer and he did great by Bing. To continue the comparison to Friedwald, I must add, however, that when Jewell writes about Sinatra (to the best of my experience) he does so to the near-total exclusion of Bing, as if he doesn't exist. Friedwald, on the other hand, has never written anything about Frank in which he doesn't spend at least SOME time defining him in terms of Bing, in a way that is always highly complementary and respectful to Bing.

-- I own and have enjoyed the book "FRANK SINATRA - A CELELBRATION BY DEREK JEWELL". I understand that, in Derek's view, the American musician he values almost as highly as Sinatra is Ellington. The man had good taste!
Candace Scott posted 02/11/06 11:01 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
"I don't see why you should "resent" Will for his alleged views that Bing's major achievement was to inspire Sinatra."

Because if Friedwald is correct, then Bing Crosby is a footnote to history and his career would only be mentioned in juxtaposition to Frank Sinatra. Crosby wouldn't stand alone and would never be mentioned except as a "precursor" to Sinatra. Does this do justice to Bing Crosby?

I can't believe that anyone here would possibly subscribe to the notion that Bing Crosby's sole importance in 20th century musical history is as someone who inspired Frank Sinatra. There's no doubt he inspired Frank, but that is a small part of Crosby's musical legacy. Bing influenced countless popular singers and Sinatra is the most influential and memorable of that group. There's more to Crosby's career than this one incidental fact.

I resent that if Friedwald's coterie has their way, Crosby will merely be vaguely known as the guy who came before Sinatra. That demeans Bing Crosby's voice, stature and position in the pantheon of great singers. If Friedwald wants to make a blanket statement that "Rudy Vallee was a precursor" to Crosby, that's fine and accurate as it stands. Vallee *is* a footnote to Crosby, Bing is *not* a footnote to Sinatra.

As for Friedwald being entitled to his opinion, pardon me, but... DUH. Everyone is pulling out of their satchels various pearls of wisdom from the mouth of dear old Will, proving he loves Bing. Again, not the issue. Will is extremely knowledgeable about Sinatra and knows a fair amount about Bing. But not enough apparently to believe that Bing's *main* contribution to popular music was to persuade a Hoboken singer to make a play for the big time.

I hope there isn't a flurry of posts:

1. "But Bing DID inspire Frankie!"
2. "What's wrong with Will saying Der Bingle inspired Ol' Blue Eyes!?"
3. "Will Friedwald is a respected musical historian and he is entitled to say whatever he wishes."

I knew all of this prior to originating this discussion. I'm disappointed that such a smart, witty, articulate group of Crosby fans buy into Friedwald's demeaning viewpoint (on this one issue).
Steven Lewis posted 02/11/06 01:28 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Candace, Bing Crosby is dead. As he made apparent in numerous interviews, it would not bother him a bit to be a footnote in history, for that is all he really considered himself. He certainly meant a lot to the people of his generation, probably second only to FDR. If you were a Republican, he probably was more popular than FDR. If his style fits your tastes, enjoy Bing's legacy of music, his movies, his radio shows, BING magazine, the BC Internet Museum, but there is no reason to get your undies in a wad over someone who expresses an alternative position. Even if Friedwall's comments were limited to the quote you gave, Bing would have been embarrassed by all the fuss. And that's one thing I like about him. He was a humble superstar.
Steve Carras posted 02/11/06 01:29 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Candace Scott wrote:
"Vallee *is* a footnote to Crosby, Bing is *not* a footnote to Sinatra."

Best point..one could argue:
Guy Lombardo in Rudy Vallee's place, and Paul Whiteman in Bing's place and Benny Goodman in Sinatra's stead.

I'm playing "mantovani" and wondering how his immensive orchetsra and Bing Crosby might be like together..
Arne posted 02/11/06 01:33 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly

You seem to have totally ignored the point I addressed to you in my post (directed to you) on 2/10 on this thread. If you're going to continue your argument, I think you need to address yourself to what I've said. You keep insisting that your one (out-of-context) quote is representative of Will's entire writings and expressed opinion on Bing Crosby. We keep trying to remind you that that is not reality.

The argument isn't (or shouldn't be) whether or not a writer is entitled to his opinion or not, but rather, if the writer's ACTUAL opinion on the subject is being accurately represented.

The reason some of us are in such a rush to bring in the truth of Will's opinions is because he has been such a total champion of Bing's, even "BG" (Before Giddins), that we (or at least I) don't think his constant - and highly public and influencial - support of Crosby should be rewarded with a distorted, innacurate and misleading representation of what his feelings are (see above in this thread, to my Friedwald quote offered in my posting on 2/7, for a typical quote).
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/11/06 01:45 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Crosby and Sinatra were two different men with two different personalities.

No less than Howard stated that Bing would never have discussed his art and artistry and that he would have preferred to talk about golf, hunting, or fishing.

Sinatra in the interviews he gave discussed his art and his views on popular music. His mission was to elevate the singing of popular music to the status of an "art form".
Steve C posted 02/11/06 01:59 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
To mentiobn Willi Friedwald here, he relegates Mitch Miller to rock and roll. How can that be? Mitch was MUCH WORSE than Tipper Gore on rock in the 1950s! and comparisions w. "Phil Sopector, Alan Freed". THOSE KKK baits? Outside of Leslie Uggams, herself a teen and not a "oldtimer", Mitch wasn't "Soul City". Mtich made Sinatra seem "for rock and roll" and then when the latter did the idiotic DUETS collabroations Will Friedwald reduced this album (which featured MTV stars) to kiddie pop, even thoiugh Hanson and Spice Girls and Debbie Gibson were NOWHERE to be found..just "Bono", and other high schoo,l non kiddie pop stars!
Greg posted 02/11/06 03:26 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
"Just as Sinatra ended the "Big Band Era" many writers have speculated that after him a new and different type or style of popular music had to develop as there was no longer any need for another way to sing the standards. "

Oh really- then how do you explain Barry Manilow!!???
debuting at No. 1 this past week--not to mention Rod Stewart's string of best-sellers singing the standards- and Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble, Peter Cincotti- I could go on...

I for one am not prepared to concede the title of "Standard Bearer" of American Popular Music solely to Mr. Sinatra.

While a segment of critics (including Mr. Friedwald) may have annointed "Frankie" as undisputed Emperor, based on one single string of the entire Popular Music fabric, doing so devalues not only Bing, but also Louis, Ella, Jolie and many others.

For me, Louis' assessment of Bing as the "boss" of all Singers trumps Mr. Friedwald, Mr. Lahr and the rest of their (less qualified to comment) ilk. Thank goodness there are critics like Joel Vance of Stereo Review, who over the years have not been afraid to state their preference for Crosby!

Similarly, I am grateful to Jimmy Roselli for calling Sinatra out on his behind the scenes dealings that prevented many latter day contenders from challenging Mr. Sinatra's superimposed pre-eminence, post-Crosby.

Oh, and so far as Sinata's "uniqueness", have you listened to David Allyn, Julius LaRosa, Steve Lawrence, Bobby Darin and the oft-mentioned Matt Monro. At any given time, any and all can be mistaken to the "average" ear for Sinatra.

So spare us the platitudes, as Steven's current selection states Bing was, and for evermore will be the protean Master!

Ronald Sarbo posted 02/11/06 03:46 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Many Sinatra fans disagree with Will over his views on the Duets albums, Watertown, and other more "contemporary" material.

What is relevant to this discussion is that many of us KNOW him and thus KNOW that he has never "demeaned" Crosby or his contributions in any way.

When I met Will over 20 years ago he was first and foremost a Crosby fan and EXTREMELY KNOWLEDGABLE on the subject.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/11/06 04:08 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Greg: The "contemporary" singers doing standards are paying homage....to Sinatra.

Sinatra is NOT the "sole standard bearer" of American Popular Music but he is recognized as the artist who PRIMARILY "Saved the Standards" as witnessed by the recordings you mention.

Jimmy Roselli always had a "chip on his shoulder" where Sinatra was concerned.

None of the singers that you mention could be "mistaken" for Sinatra.

Especially David Allyn who was influenced more by Dick Haymes.
Greg posted 02/11/06 04:37 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
It is too convenient to dismiss Jimmy's very valid points as mere "sour grapes."

As far as Sinatra "saving" the standards-they live on due to the quality of the songs- THAT is why lesser lights like Manilow, Stewart, Bette Midler etc. continue to capitalize commercially on the efforts of the song writers who originally advanced them.

Moreover,as previously stated (I did not stutter/hiccup), American Popular Music, as Bing proved is more than just the so-called 'standards' (as determined by a handful of elitist pundits).

Finally, I stand by my statement that the aforementioned Singers are Sinatra-like. As far as Dick Haymes, your statement is more applicale to Bob Manning than to the
hugely underrated David Allyn.
Arne posted 02/11/06 05:12 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
There is an awful lot of typing going on in this thread, but very little actual communication. The amount of disregard for logic, and mis-reading of arguments, is mind-boggling..... Owing to the fact that un-clear, obstructed communication frustrates the hell out of me, I'm getting out now. To the extent that I may be guilty of some of the communication glitches MYSELF, I humbly apologize. IN any event, I'm dropping out of this thread before it drives me cuckoo!

Don't forget to listen to THE BING SHIFT tonight!
Dieter Beier posted 02/11/06 05:55 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing have created an own area of "standards".There were the much underrated songs of James Van Heusen and John Burke with much fine melodies and lyrics as But Beatiful,To See You Is To Love You,Moonlight Becomes You,Accidents Will Happen,And You´ll Be Home,Personality,The Magic Window,Once And For Always,Welcome To My Dreams -to mention only a few.If you listen to both versions of Accidents Will Happen,you will be aware how strong and powerful Bing´s voice was in the early 50ties(listen these on the old LP´s where Bing´s voice even sounds better and warmer than on CDs).And if you will compare the duet version with Dorothy Kirsten you can notice how Bing could increase the volume of his voice even in those days.And Bing´s singing was totally competitive with Sinatra and any other singing boy.But the way of interpreting a song differences much of our crooner and that one of the swooner.Although I like most Bing it is ever refreshing to listen to other styles of performing.Comparing e.g. Mack The Knife sung by by Bing,Frank and Ella I wouldn´t dare to vote the favorite,because all are complete differentand although superior each in their own way.Bing´s interpretion is perhaps nearest to the original sense of the German source (Brecht´s Dreigroschen Oper)and Ella sung it with much swing and fun and the Sinatra of the 80ties have an enourmos drive and power and dramatizing.
Frank´s advantage was too,that he knows how good he was and expreesed this,instead of Bing who lowered his kind of singing permanently.And today people who can cry louder are noticed more unless their abilities and modesty is nothing to get attention in our world of attractions.Therefore Frank was certainly a modern personality and won a rank miles before Bing.
Ronald Sarbo posted 02/11/06 06:13 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Greg: Darin, Lawrence, and Monro were Sinatra-Like.
Como, Haymes, Martin, Buddy Clark, and Dick Todd were Crosby-Like. What is your point?

Bob Manning was closer to Haymes than David Allyn but on the notes to "This Is My Lucky Day" Steve Allen says young singers should study David Allyn so they will NOT end up sounding like Sinatra.

And I agree that David Allyn was underrated but he had a very troubled life and drifted in and out of the music business.His version of "The Folks who Live On The Hill" is superior to Crosby's but 20 years separate them. Many of Bing's recordings are precursors of the recordings of the same songs by Sinatra and others but that in no way detracts from their greatness. David Allyn's autobiography has just recently been published.

As to your assertion that the standards live on due to the quality of the songs no less than Ira Gershwin stated that Sinatra saved "I've Got A Crush On You" from obscurity as he saved countless other standards from oblivion.
Greg posted 02/11/06 06:56 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
With due respect, Steve Allen's musical opinions are suspect at best. Comedy may be another story.

Isolated anecdotal quotes like that from Ira Gershwin do not prove a thing. I can produce just as many quotes supporting Bing- some of them reproduced right here on Steven's Board.

Give it up R.S. Bing rules! Case closed!
Greg posted 02/11/06 07:50 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
No-Ronald (aka Frank apologist)

Like you, Tina and Nancy, and Joey Bishop- ok?

No more please! As Louis said Bing is the boss-
"end of story!!!"
Carmela posted 02/11/06 07:56 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
My eyes hurt from this thread. I want to make peace here. Bing and Frank respected and admired each other. I don't think they would like all this he said she said stuff about them. I don't care what people think about anybody I'm a fan of. The proof is in the package! I can tell you this. Will's book[on Bing] had many mistakes in it. If he is such a Big Bing fan, he should have taken more time to research on Bing!
howard crosby posted 02/12/06 07:59 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
How about a little head to head competition on some standards they both did....

"I've Got the World on a String", Bing or Frank?
"I'll Be Seeing You" Frank or Bing?
"Stardust", Bing or Frank?
"Send in the Clowns", Frank or Bing?
"Pennies from Heaven" Bing or Frank?

I'll save my votes till later, but quite frankly, all ten versions of these five songs are DAMN good!
David Lobosco posted 02/12/06 08:26 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Dear Howard,

Cool competition. Here are my choices:

"I've Got The World On A String"...Frank
"I'll Be Seeing You"...Bing
"Send In The Clowns"...Bing
"Pennies From Heaven"...Bing
Dieter Beier posted 02/12/06 08:49 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Howard and David, I prefer all these 5songs with Bing´s voice in comparation with Frank.With I´ve Got The World On A String is Bing superior and tremendous.I like this song from my early days of fanship on very much.That´s certainly some songs engraved in me very much,but tastes are relative-not only time(says Einstein or did he means it otherwise?).All the songs of the list I have known in my first year-of30 until yet-with Bing´s recordings.And four of them are to me Bing´s version the ultimate one,with the exception of Stardust.On this song I will prefer(instead of Sinatra)Nat King Cole´s recording against all Crosby recordings of that title.
Steve Carras posted 02/12/06 11:00 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
dieter, goiod points about Bing (in your longest post YET!!) creatying styandards in and of themsevles in their own rigt and later about Mr C. not wanting to be an intelectual !

Standards to me include "I'll be seeing you.." as much as swing. Perhaps even more so on this Valentine's dya weekend and who more than Rudy Vallee, Vaughan Monroe or Bing to be romantic..they were NICE to chicks!

Bing:"I'll be seeing.."
Just about any others
Frank:any of his later ifites or early 40s..

Hard to decide in some ways, actually
Steve Carras posted 02/12/06 11:24 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Mike 2, how COULD William Friedwald "deliver a panegyric" when a panegyric isn't even a WORD!!!
Steven Lewis posted 02/12/06 05:20 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Frank also recorded a superb, swinging version of "Swinging on a Star" that Lee might even enjoy.
Don Lamb posted 02/12/06 06:23 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly

I agree with your appraisal on all counts. Much as I like Bing, I think Nat Cole's version of "Stardust" is the definitive recording of that song. I never really cared much for Bing's recording because I just don't like the musical arrangement and because Bing sang it in too high a key, thereby sounding (to me, anyway) a bit strained. I might also recommend Roger Whittaker's recording of the song, which is very good. (Whittaker also did a beautiful job on Berlin's "Always," because he sang the verse, which is quite lovely and very seldom heard.)
Dieter Beier posted 02/12/06 07:18 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing told Derek Jewell:
"I´ll tell you who are my 3 best male singers.They sing a song like it was written-intonation,phrasing tune.Buddy Clark-he died in the 1950s in an aircraft accident-Matt Munro,Barry Manilow."
I (Jewell) confess I looked surprised at the names.Bing added Nat King Cole("an amiable nice fellow"),Sinatra,Tony Bennett and Mell Tormé("more musicianly than anyone else") without flicking a muscle.
George posted 02/12/06 08:29 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I recall the context of the quote just a little bit differently. Bing prefaced, that is qualified, the statement by saying that as far as strictly "singing a song straight through without embellishments"... the 3 singers
he preferred were...

My recollection of the quote (Bing may indeed have said it on separate occasions), was to Leonard Feather in Melody Maker.
Dieter Beier posted 02/12/06 09:35 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I have quoted Derek Jewell after "London Palladium Season:Bing Crosby and Friends",1977.Bing spokes about Judy Garland.Then he says:"Mary Martin was a great girl,too,but no man stands out so much.I´ll tell you who are my 3 best male singers....".So far I know the context of my source.
George posted 02/13/06 08:12 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Interesting quote about the gals, Dieter considering Bing had also at one time issued the oft-quoted "man, woman or child, Ella's the greatest of them all."

But then again, in 1976 during his New York stay, he also stated in the article "Bing Crosby - Bel Canto Baritone" from the NY Times Sunday Magazine when asked to compare himself to Sinatra - that "Sinatra was a better actor", and as a singer?- "No! but the greatest singer I ever heard was Tony Bennett."

It would seem that Bing's professed opinions must consequently be taken with the proverbial "grain of salt!"

Joe McGrenra posted 02/13/06 08:37 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
My choices would be:

"I've Got the World on a String"-Frank. One of his best.
"I'll Be Seeing You" Bing
"Stardust", Bing
"Send in the Clowns" Frank-his type of song
"Pennies from Heaven" Bing<
joshua stewart posted 02/13/06 10:19 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I agree with the quote George mentions about Ella Fitzgerald. Bing, Frank and all the others were great singers, but Ella was a virtuoso.
Dieter Beier posted 02/14/06 12:26 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
AS George pointed it out,Bing´s statements varied varied from interview to interview-I have read or listened to a many.Against Derek Jewell Bing told about Judy Garland: "The most talented woman I ever knew was Judy Garland.She was a great,great comedienne and she ccould do more things than any girl I ever knew.Act,sing,dance,make you laugh.She was everything.She laughed infectiously,you know,and the 15 weeks we did together on radio in the early 1940s (???)were the best I ever had.I had a great effection for her.Such a tragedy.Too much work,too much pressure,the wrong kind of people as husbands."
I like both highly-Judy and Ella.
And to listen to Judy´s infectious laughing ,let play the show ,where Bing and Judy tried to sing Frozen Blues.
Steven Lewis posted 02/14/06 01:40 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I think if you did some research you would find that Tony Bennett, Rosie Clooney, Dean Martin ... all had different answers to the same questions at various times. This is hardly unique to Bing.
Judy Schmid posted 02/14/06 03:34 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
SOMEWHERE in those interviews I'm SURE Bing said something about ME being his favorite accordionist..

Steven Lewis posted 02/14/06 04:25 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Sorry, Jude. I recall you were mentioned second after Lawrence Welk.
howard crosby posted 02/14/06 04:30 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
OK, here's my vote on these five:

"I've Got the World on a String", tie, both GREAT,can't say
"I'll Be Seeing You", Bing
"Stardust", Bing (Nat was not an option in my contest!)
"Send in the Clowns", Frank, better suited to him
"Pennies from Heaven", Bing

I'd like to reiterate, however, that there is not a bad rendition in the lot. They were BOTH great popular singers.
(Bing was just a bit better!)
Lee posted 02/14/06 05:05 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I'd like to let play the show where Bing bloopers his way with Judy Garland when he seems to be looking down her shirt describing 2 point instead of down the barrel of a rifle. It was a funny blooper moment that wasn't bloopered on a Bing Radio show w/Judy as guest. Those 2 seemed to get along very well.
Harley posted 02/17/06 12:37 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I just got back to my computer after a few days away, and I find here a thread which has absolutely nothing to do with the original issue. Arne has stepped out to preserve his sanity, and Candace, bless her soul, has not been especially convincing regarding Will Friedwald's overall attitude towards Bing's contributions to popular singing/culture. Well, she's a grand old lass nonetheless.

I think the thread is best abandoned, but if anyone (anyone able to follow a specific issue, that is) wishes to reprise and expand upon the original discussion, I shall be sipping a bit of the old bubbly with Mike 2 at the Oxford Union, or perhaps the Harvard Club. You'll be able to distinguish me as "one of the newer fellas," whilst Mike 2 will present a considerably more "distinguished" visage...
Jon O. posted 03/19/06 12:58 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Sorry to resurrect this endless thread, but Will Friedwald has been giving Bing his due at least since he was 22 years old, as evidenced by the opening paragraphs from his liner notes to 1984’s “Bing In the Thirties, Volume 5” on the Spokane label:

“When the history of world culture is written, Bing Crosby will go down in the record as more than the greatest of popular singers, but as a milestone in the development of western music, of no less importance than a Frederick Chopin or a Charlie Parker.

“But the problem of dealing with a musical giant such as Crosby is that his career is too large, too all encompassing to contemplate. The all-important demand on him, and to a lesser extent all of the generation of popular music-makers that followed in his footsteps was that he be all things to all people. This has often led those who study his work to take a fragmented, microcosmic approach. For Crosby lasted through so many different periods and produced so many different kinds of music, that a constant subject of debate has been which facet of his music and career actually represents ne-plus-ultra of Crosby.”

He goes on to praise Bing’s 1930s KMH performances in an utterly adulatory review.
Steve C posted 03/19/06 04:10 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
To plonk in the final word (and top of a happy ST Patty's day weekend)...evidently, in short what Will Friedwald (I've checked out both of those books (JAZZ SINGING, SINATRA!) outta the library myself and have read them) may have said as a disclaimer or warning before enjoying his and our idol Bing..versatality can be fatal. (Sounds like a movie slogan.)

Everyman, all thing to all people, versatile would be simple and good descriptions for Bing.

And Happy circa 90th birthday to the late Nat King Cole (1917?-1965. He and Bing have had birthdays switched around.Quite common for many extremely famous people..Frank too, was changed from soemone born December 12, 1915 to 1917 to make him younger to his bobby-soxer fans..Bing's had his ENTIRE birthday changed..Louis Armstrong and Phil Harris as well.)
Steven Lewis posted 03/20/06 04:55 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
No, THIS is the final word. Will Friedwald, you may recall, wrote the extensive booklet liner notes to the 4-volume CD release of a decade ago called Bing His Legendary Years.

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