Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tin Pan Alley

From Barry Singer's Black and Blue: The Life and Lyrics of Andy Razaf, a fascinating passage about the legendary songwriting team of Andy Razaf and Fats Waller:

It will forever be impossible to account for those songs that the two men sold outright to various music publishers and to many unidentifiable songwriting peers that [1925] season. "Let me tell you how that worked," bandleader Sam Wooding later explained. "They didn't want blacks down there on Tin Pan Alley in the beginning. Sometimes the (white) songs were good but there was something lacking. Then they had to say, well, we gotta go and get one of those spades to come in here and straighten this out. That's what happened. 'Cause a lot of those white composers, they were fresh off the boat, they didn't know what America was. They were on the right track, they almost had the idea but it wasn't there yet, so they called in Andy Razaf to straighten out the lyrics and Luckey Roberts or Shelton Brooks to straighten out the music, and they were paid maybe fifty dollars for the whole thing and it got the Negro some beef stew and he was satisfied with that."

No comments: