Friday, February 26, 2010

Full cream fifties

Listening today to that late 50s Guy Mitchell favourite
‘Heartaches by the Number,’ which is now
acknowledged, I believe, as having been crucially
influential on Jimmy Page’s chord progressions for the
third Led Zeppelin album, and may even have been
indirectly responsible for Frank Zappa’s experiments
with trance fusion, I remembered again the intense
connexion between booming dairy production and
1950s male vocalism: the rich tones of Mitchell,
Johnnie Ray, Vic Damone and many others owed a
great deal to higher postwar cholesterol intake, coupled
with the smooth, soothing effect of all that butter and
cream sliding daily down the throat. Frank Sinatra, who
never packed away the dairy products like these guys,
having come from a slightly earlier generation, always
sounded reedy by comparison. Agriculture’s role in
popular culture, especially music, folk-dancing and the
New Zealand short story, has been all too little
recognized, in my view.

1 comment:

Stephen Stratford said...

Not to mention "Milk Cow Boogie" as sung by Elvis Presley and, much later, Levon Helm.

And, of course, the great jazz chanteuse Blossom Dairy.