It’s So Old it’s New

“Reality in our century is not something to be faced.”

—Graham Greene, English author, born October 2, 1904

More Vanished Civilizations

Lee Wiley“….In 1939, [Lee] Wiley recorded eight Gershwin songs on 78s with a small group for Liberty Music Shops. The set sold well and was followed by 78s dedicated to the music of Cole Porter (1940) and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (1940 and 1954), Harold Arlen (1943), and 10” LPs dedicated to the music of Vincent Youmans and Irving Berlin (1951)….These influential albums launched the concept of a ‘songbook’ (often featuring lesser-known songs), which was later widely imitated by other singers….” By the way, if you love the Songbook, do yourself a favor and check out Lee Wiley. She deserves to be better known. Lee Wiley songs

It’s natural for a culture to pay attention to its own art exclusively. In 20th century American pop music before Lee Wiley’s experiment, the Hit Parade dominated: a simple, ever-changing collection of new songs that became popular, were widely listened to and covered by other artists, and then vanished. Wiley’s example was followed by such great singers as Frank Sinatra, who sang songs from the twenties on, and Ella Fitzgerald, who did a monumental and masterful series of songbooks for Verve in the 50s and 60s.

Another famous example from music is the Bach revival in the early 19th century. Bach died in 1750. His music was already considered old-fashioned. While it was valued and studied by composers like Mozart and Beethoven, it wasn’t played. Mendelssohn arranged and conducted a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Berlin in 1829, the first time it had been played since since Bach’s death.

About the same time Mendelssohn was reviving great music from a few generations back, Sir Walter Scott invented the historical novel. Novels are called novels because they’re news. They’re stories of modern life; or they were before Sir Walter got to work. More about that another day.


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The Re-shoring Trend Good News for Massachusetts “…The trend is good news for Massachusetts, where “manufacturing is alive and well, and has a healthy future,” according to a report last year entitled Staying Power II: A Report Card on Manufacturing in Massachusetts, by Professor Barry Bluestone and his team at Northeastern University.

“Some key findings of the report about Massachusetts manufacturing:

  • Manufacturing employment has stabilized after a sharp decline during the recession;
  • Manufacturing is the state’s six-largest employment sector – and the second-largest (after health care) in terms of payroll;
  • Manufacturing’s share of gross state product has risen for the past two years, to 12.2 percent;
  • The number of manufacturing firms increased in 2011 for the first time in decades;
  • Manufacturing is more technologically intense than ever; in 1970 employment in low-tech sectors was twice that in high-tech; in 2006 they were equal, and by 2010 high-tech was 27 percent larger;
  • Most Massachusetts manufacturing companies are small and family-owned;
  • The manufacturing workforce is more diverse than the overall state workforce; and
  • Although most jobs in manufacturing are now “white collar,” only about one position in five requires a college degree….”

Manufacturing Shift to US Accelerates

The Last Word

“Airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value.”
—Ferdinand Foch, French soldier, born October 2, 1851

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