Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Harlem On My Mind: Music
From an Amazon review of "From Flappers To Rappers," by Tom Dalzell: "Few things remain constant from generation to generation, but one propensity that's always in vogue is the youthful joy of inventing slang (or as Gustavo Arriolo's spider said to the dog in "Gordo," "Cool expressions change with each generation, dog, dig?"). It's always entertaining to read up on slang, but Tom Dalzell heightens the interest by organizing the youth talk chronologically. Starting with college slang in the 1850s, where "to gorm" was to eat voraciously, Dalzell proceeds to the slang of the 1920s flappers, then devotes a chapter to each succeeding decade, right up to the "circle of death" (bad pizza) of the 1990s. With scholarly derivations and social history, Dalzell has put together a totally cuspy lexicon that's slammin' cool beans. Perhaps Cab Calloway was the most famous of the musicians who popularized the slang of "Renaissance" music. Here's his famous Jumping Jive. Next here's the lyrics for the song. Finally here's a slide show of the informative liner notes from one of my favorite CD's, "Cab Calloway, Are You Hep To The Jive," purchased at one of NYC's musical treasures, Academy Music on West 18th Street.