Bing Crosby: A Way with Words

bingopener1Late tomorrow night, the Rat Pack musical Robin and the 7 Hoods will air on TCM at 2:15 am. Set during the Depression, this loose interpretation of the Robin Hood story features Frank Sinatra as Robbo, a gangster caught in a gang war with rival mobster Guy Gisborne. Rumor has it that Rat Pack veterans Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop were no longer part of the inner circle by the time this film was made, so Bing Crosby and Peter Falk filled out the supporting characters.

The last musical comedy for both Sinatra and Crosby, Robin and the 7 Hoods features a couple of classic tunes (“My Kind of Town”; “Style”), the cool camaraderie of Frank, Dean, and Sammy, and the occasional funny one-liner—but little else. The musical is loose and lumbering, and the dance numbers so void of actual choreography, they don’t seem like dance numbers at all. Medium long shots in long takes dominate the film, which contributes to its lack of energy. Sinatra had never liked to do more than one take per scene, and by this time, few could convince him to repeat his dialogue more than once, not even for close-ups or coverage. The fewer shots, the less editing, which drags down the pace.

AS ALLEN A. DALE IN 'ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS'

AS ALLEN A. DALE IN ‘ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS’

Despite the film’s weaknesses, who doesn’t love the Rat Pack? I especially enjoy Bing Crosby as Allen A. Dale, who runs the orphanage where Robbo has donated a considerable sum. Though as smooth and relaxed as any Crosby character, Allen A. Dale is mostly defined by his sesquipedalian phraseology. In other words, he is long-winded and effusive, using arcane phrasing with multi-syllable words. For example, in the character’s introductory scene, when Sinatra and crew think he is soliciting for money, he launches into a prolonged denial ending with “I beseech do not so misconstrue.” Throughout the film, his verbose dialogue is followed by someone remarking in gangster-ese, “I think there is somethin’ wrong wit’ his troat.”

The verbal virtuosity of the character Allen A. Dale was an aspect of the persona Crosby had constructed during his years in radio and fine-tuned over the decades. If you have seen any of the Road movies, his light-hearted musicals, or his appearances on TV variety shows in the 1960s, you have seen him in action. But, like me, you probably took this talent for granted. It is apparent in the quipping between Hope and Crosby, in the lilting remarks between verses of songs, and in the well-placed adlibs with guests on his radio program.

BOB HOPE, HEDY LAMARR, AND CROSBY PERFORM ON RADIO.

BOB HOPE, HEDY LAMARR, AND CROSBY PERFORM ON RADIO.

Crosby attributed his vocal abilities and exquisite musical phrasing to the elocution classes he received from the Jesuits at Gonzaga High School and Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington. Strict and formal, the classes taught him not only how to enunciate lines and lyrics but how to analyze their meaning. Throughout his career, Crosby took care to ponder the meaning of  lyrics, even when some of the material selected for him was not very good. As a young student, he had intended to study pre-law in college, but courses in elocution, recitation, drama, and debate dominated his education. In a 1923 review of his performance in a play called It Pays to Advertise, the local paper noted his ability to deliver the jokes effectively, “Mr. Crosby bursts over with spontaneity in getting his amusing lines across the footlights.”

With one year of college left, Crosby ditched pre-law to pursue a musical career. He began by following and singing 1920s-style jazz, with Louis Armstrong his strongest musical influence. It was not Armstrong’s unique voice that Crosby emulated but his ability to create an illusion of ease and spontaneity in his singing style. People who know far more about music than I ever will are quick to praise Crosby’s phrasing and note his understanding of time, including knowing where the downbeat was. His articulation, phrasing, and timing in song gave him an advantage in speaking lines—an advantage honed into a skill with wordplay that became part of his star image.

Crosby was the architect of his own career and image, particularly on radio during the early 1930s. He performed on radio from 1931 to 1961, longer than any other singer-entertainer of his generation. His most successful stint was as host of the Kraft Music Hall from 1935 to 1946. There he practiced at playing the genial bon viveur who was calm, collected, and cool. On air, Crosby was never in a hurry for any reason, but he was always quick to crack a one-liner. The ease and timing of his delivery made his dialogue seem adlibbed, though it was often scripted by a writer with the unlikely name of Carroll Carroll. Carroll understood Crosby’s informal persona and studied his vocal stylings in order to create the lilting, well-timed lines delivered so breezily by Bing. “I just thought I’d sit here and watch the effect of yon moon on the waves” was a typical line.

CROSBY WAS SO ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES OF TAPE, HE INVESTED IN ITS DEVELOPMENT. LATER, HE INVESTED IN VIDEO TAPE TECHNOLOGY.

CROSBY WAS SO ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES OF MAGNETIC TAPE, HE INVESTED IN ITS DEVELOPMENT. LATER, HE INVESTED IN VIDEOTAPE TECHNOLOGY.

Crosby did adlib with guests on his radio programs, but this tendency has been exaggerated and misunderstood. It did not involve sputtering whatever popped into his head at the moment, nor did he or his guests walk all over each other’s lines—a style of adlibbing found in contemporary gross-out comedies in which the actors spew badly timed lines for their own amusement. In Crosby’s shows, all lines served the skits or material.  Crosby was an early advocate for the commercial development of magnetic tape.  His technical director had seen a demonstration of magnetic tape recorders, and he arranged for a private demonstration for his boss. The singer was looking for a way to prerecord his radio series instead of doing the shows live, but prerecording on discs had resulted in poor quality sound. Tape produced a higher quality sound, and it allowed Crosby and his guests to prerecord musical numbers, then select the best takes. Comic bits could be extended during recording, with the best adlibs retained while any weak one-liners were edited out later.  When Crosby began his 1947 season on October 1, the show represented the first magnetic tape broadcast in America, according to J.M. Fenster in Invention & Technology magazine.

FS: "I THINK I AM GONNA DANCE."  BC: "DON'T HURT YOURSELF."

FS: “I’M GOING TO DANCE.”
BC: “DON’T GET HURT.”

In the Road movies, Hope and Crosby played extensions of their radio personalities, with the former a hapless chump to the latter’s laid-back con man. The two experienced entertainers speckled their scripts with additional jokes, but they were rarely adlibbed on the spot as many claim. Most were supplied by their regular radio writers and then inserted in the script at suitable points by Hope and Crosby. It’s the pair’s offhand delivery of the lines as comic asides—giving the illusion of spontaneity—that makes them seem unrehearsed. In The Road to Zanzibar, Crosby defends buying a diamond mine from a wealthy man, saying, “He’s a philanthropist!”  Hope quips, “I don’t care who he votes for.”

Breezy line delivery was only part of Crosby’s verbal shtick, which also included offbeat phrasing combined with hip slang delivered in an almost musical cadence.  The musical High Society provides the best example of Crosby’s verbal stylings, specifically the duet “Well, Did You Evah” with Frank Sinatra. The entire song has been composed around Crosby’s quip-like delivery. Sinatra sings the verse, “And have you heard the story of a boy, a girl, unrequited love?” Crosby cracks, “Sounds like pure soap opera,” to which Sinatra remarks, “I may cry.” But, Crosby has the last word, “Tune in tomorrow,” before the next verse of the song begins. Later, between verses, Sinatra announces, “I’m going to dance,” and Crosby replies, “Don’t get hurt.” It has been said that Sinatra idolized Crosby, which accounts for their chemistry together in this number. Likewise, Crosby idolized Louis Armstrong, which comes through in my favorite number in the film, “Now You Has Jazz.” Satchmo sings, “Frenchmen all prefer what they call la jazz hot,” to which Bing effortlessly quips, “Formidable!”

"NOW WE GOT JAZZ"

“NOW YOU HAS JAZZ”

I love when Crosby uses slang, because he is just too hip for the room. For example, his names for Bob Hope’s famous ski-shaped nose are legendary: hook horn, shoe face, bent beak, scow-prow, ski snoot, and funnel flue. Instead of using the standard show-biz phrase “wow the audience,” he might say, “Let’s crumple the folks.” If his knees hurt, he complained about his “prayer bones.” Performing a duet with another entertainer would prompt him to proclaim, “We will now cross cadenzas.” To express his confusion, he declared, “I seem to be playing in the infield.” Oddly, when he was worried, he would say he was “fretting cuticle.” Crosby spoke in his unique slang in real life, and Carroll listened carefully, often incorporating certain words and phrases into his radio and film dialogue.

Sadly, Bing Crosby has not been remembered in the same way as Sinatra or the Rat Pack. Somehow his easy-going persona lacks the edge so prized by the mythmakers, and his hit songs are too mainstream (“White Christmas”) to be solely associated with him. Also, revelations about his personal life by his sons after his death have cast a shadow over his popularity as an entertainer, though they represent only one side to his story.  However, I find myself amused by his ease and skill at wordplay, perhaps because I am a writer, and I recommend re-viewing his movies—even the lesser ones—for that reason.

46 Responses Bing Crosby: A Way with Words
Posted By markmayerson : June 17, 2013 3:11 pm

For the record, the man playing the saxophone in the topmost picture is Chicago jazz great Bud Freeman.

Posted By markmayerson : June 17, 2013 3:11 pm

For the record, the man playing the saxophone in the topmost picture is Chicago jazz great Bud Freeman.

Posted By Susan Doll : June 17, 2013 3:36 pm

Mark: Thanks for the i.d. Do you know what they might be collaborating on. I selected the photo because it suggested that Crosby was working as opposed to merely posing.

Posted By Susan Doll : June 17, 2013 3:36 pm

Mark: Thanks for the i.d. Do you know what they might be collaborating on. I selected the photo because it suggested that Crosby was working as opposed to merely posing.

Posted By michaelgloversmith : June 17, 2013 3:40 pm

Great post. That’s interesting about the elocution lessons — Crosby’s emphasis on the meaning of the lyric certainly comes through in his singing. GOING MY WAY, incidentally, is one of my favorite films.

Posted By michaelgloversmith : June 17, 2013 3:40 pm

Great post. That’s interesting about the elocution lessons — Crosby’s emphasis on the meaning of the lyric certainly comes through in his singing. GOING MY WAY, incidentally, is one of my favorite films.

Posted By Anonymous : June 17, 2013 5:38 pm

As a talent, he was mediocre. As a father he was a cruel, despicable, sadistic Monster (2 of his 4 son’s committed suicide, as did their mother). As a man, he was always known as “The coldest man in Hollywood”

Posted By Anonymous : June 17, 2013 5:38 pm

As a talent, he was mediocre. As a father he was a cruel, despicable, sadistic Monster (2 of his 4 son’s committed suicide, as did their mother). As a man, he was always known as “The coldest man in Hollywood”

Posted By Doug : June 17, 2013 7:09 pm

I think Bing was a very natural actor, and if he never stretched too far beyond his persona, that was fine.
I’m glad he kept to the lighter roles. He didn’t need to play Hamlet, as Father O’Malley was enough. I remember watching his last TV movie, “Dr Cook’s Garden”, though I can’t recall much.
I’m one of those who greatly prefers “Holiday Inn” over “White Christmas”.
Susan, you’ve decided this evening’s entertainment for me-I will watch “Robin and the Seven Hoods”-DVD as I don’t have TCM.

Posted By Doug : June 17, 2013 7:09 pm

I think Bing was a very natural actor, and if he never stretched too far beyond his persona, that was fine.
I’m glad he kept to the lighter roles. He didn’t need to play Hamlet, as Father O’Malley was enough. I remember watching his last TV movie, “Dr Cook’s Garden”, though I can’t recall much.
I’m one of those who greatly prefers “Holiday Inn” over “White Christmas”.
Susan, you’ve decided this evening’s entertainment for me-I will watch “Robin and the Seven Hoods”-DVD as I don’t have TCM.

Posted By Susan Doll : June 17, 2013 7:24 pm

Crosby’s talents as a singer are well documented, though not everyone likes his style, which is fine. Two of his sons did commit suicide, but, just for the record, their mother, Dixie Lee Crosby died of ovarian cancer.

Posted By Susan Doll : June 17, 2013 7:24 pm

Crosby’s talents as a singer are well documented, though not everyone likes his style, which is fine. Two of his sons did commit suicide, but, just for the record, their mother, Dixie Lee Crosby died of ovarian cancer.

Posted By Lamar : June 17, 2013 7:41 pm

The pic of Crosby and Freeman is from Life magazine, 1946. Rehearsing at Eddie Condon’s apartment in NYC.

Posted By Lamar : June 17, 2013 7:41 pm

The pic of Crosby and Freeman is from Life magazine, 1946. Rehearsing at Eddie Condon’s apartment in NYC.

Posted By BPiper : June 17, 2013 8:09 pm

“As a talent, he was mediocre.” That makes it hard to take any ensuing statement very seriously.

Posted By BPiper : June 17, 2013 8:09 pm

“As a talent, he was mediocre.” That makes it hard to take any ensuing statement very seriously.

Posted By Doug : June 18, 2013 2:33 am

I enjoyed “Robin and the Seven Hoods” just fine; included on the disc was a behind the scenes look at a day of production-unusual for such an early film.
side note to anonymous-suicides in any family are tragic, but no one is to “Blame’ for a suicide except the person committing the act. Lots of people with crappy childhoods do just fine-and some who had great parents allow their personal problems to overwhelm them. One of the final steps to adulthood is taken when a person no longer blames their parents for how they turned out.
Back to the fun stuff. A few months ago I went to an estate sale where the lady had been a movie nut-there were well over 200 movies going for a dollar each…and she loved Frank Sinatra, so I also have High Society, Can Can, and others.

Posted By Doug : June 18, 2013 2:33 am

I enjoyed “Robin and the Seven Hoods” just fine; included on the disc was a behind the scenes look at a day of production-unusual for such an early film.
side note to anonymous-suicides in any family are tragic, but no one is to “Blame’ for a suicide except the person committing the act. Lots of people with crappy childhoods do just fine-and some who had great parents allow their personal problems to overwhelm them. One of the final steps to adulthood is taken when a person no longer blames their parents for how they turned out.
Back to the fun stuff. A few months ago I went to an estate sale where the lady had been a movie nut-there were well over 200 movies going for a dollar each…and she loved Frank Sinatra, so I also have High Society, Can Can, and others.

Posted By swac44 : June 18, 2013 12:32 pm

I’ve learned to take the stories about Bing with a racehorse-sized grain of salt. Besides his son Gary’s confessional (another son, Philip, called Gary “a whining crybaby” only out to make a quick buck on his dad’s name), there’s also the damaging portrait painted by the bio Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man, which is full of anonymous sources, half-truths and conjecture, and was also serialized in The National Enquirer, whose journalistic standards are about right for this book. I wish I hadn’t read it, but it was years before Gary Giddins came along with his more definitive A Pocket Full of Dreams bio.

I love Crosby’s early work, and enjoy him as a personality in his later years, and I love when there’s a reference to him in other movies or old cartoons (Warner Bros. shorts are full of Bing gags, usually relating to racehorses). His later records are a bit on the mushy side for me, but I do enjoy some, like an album of duets with Rosemary Clooney. As for his family life, I don’t doubt that the kind of success he had didn’t come with some sort of personal cost, but I don’t let that detract from what he accomplished as an artist or entrepreneur.

Posted By swac44 : June 18, 2013 12:32 pm

I’ve learned to take the stories about Bing with a racehorse-sized grain of salt. Besides his son Gary’s confessional (another son, Philip, called Gary “a whining crybaby” only out to make a quick buck on his dad’s name), there’s also the damaging portrait painted by the bio Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man, which is full of anonymous sources, half-truths and conjecture, and was also serialized in The National Enquirer, whose journalistic standards are about right for this book. I wish I hadn’t read it, but it was years before Gary Giddins came along with his more definitive A Pocket Full of Dreams bio.

I love Crosby’s early work, and enjoy him as a personality in his later years, and I love when there’s a reference to him in other movies or old cartoons (Warner Bros. shorts are full of Bing gags, usually relating to racehorses). His later records are a bit on the mushy side for me, but I do enjoy some, like an album of duets with Rosemary Clooney. As for his family life, I don’t doubt that the kind of success he had didn’t come with some sort of personal cost, but I don’t let that detract from what he accomplished as an artist or entrepreneur.

Posted By Doug : June 18, 2013 2:15 pm

Swac44, once more we agree. Crosby was as flawed as you or I; what he did in his career is what matters to us, the public.
I was thinking about something while watching “Robin and the Seven Hoods” last night. Sinatra, Crosby,and Martin were fortunate to have been born in the era of film/radio. If Sinatra, for example, had been born just 20 years earlier, no matter how great his talent, he probably wouldn’t have had the career that he had. He probably would still have been a star, but his years as a ‘teen idol’ would have come and gone before radio.

Posted By Doug : June 18, 2013 2:15 pm

Swac44, once more we agree. Crosby was as flawed as you or I; what he did in his career is what matters to us, the public.
I was thinking about something while watching “Robin and the Seven Hoods” last night. Sinatra, Crosby,and Martin were fortunate to have been born in the era of film/radio. If Sinatra, for example, had been born just 20 years earlier, no matter how great his talent, he probably wouldn’t have had the career that he had. He probably would still have been a star, but his years as a ‘teen idol’ would have come and gone before radio.

Posted By swac44 : June 18, 2013 3:03 pm

Crosby came along when electric microphones and recording techniques were improving, allowing for a subtler approach than his forerunner, Al Jolson. Sinatra came along at the height of radio, Elvis Presley was perfectly placed to exploit the visual properties of television, definitely a case of the right artist at the right time.

Of course, Crosby made the most of all three of those developments, Sinatra never really warmed to TV the same way Crosby did. He always seems a bit on edge in front of a studio camera. Crosby’s TV specials were always among the highest rated shows of the year.

Weird coincidence/vague connection dept.: Crosby’s maternal great-grandfather hailed from the same part of Ireland as my father’s Irish side (County Cork) and they settled in the same part of Canada as both my mother’s side of the family and my girlfriend’s mother’s family, New Brunswick (more specifically, the Mirimachi region, where his ancestors would very likely have mingled with those of my future mother-in-law’s, who grew up there).

According to Gary Giddins, Crosby always believed his grandfather Dennis Harrigan Jr. was Irish-born, but in fact he was the only one of his 10 siblings born on Canadian soil. And now you know….the rest of the story.

Posted By swac44 : June 18, 2013 3:03 pm

Crosby came along when electric microphones and recording techniques were improving, allowing for a subtler approach than his forerunner, Al Jolson. Sinatra came along at the height of radio, Elvis Presley was perfectly placed to exploit the visual properties of television, definitely a case of the right artist at the right time.

Of course, Crosby made the most of all three of those developments, Sinatra never really warmed to TV the same way Crosby did. He always seems a bit on edge in front of a studio camera. Crosby’s TV specials were always among the highest rated shows of the year.

Weird coincidence/vague connection dept.: Crosby’s maternal great-grandfather hailed from the same part of Ireland as my father’s Irish side (County Cork) and they settled in the same part of Canada as both my mother’s side of the family and my girlfriend’s mother’s family, New Brunswick (more specifically, the Mirimachi region, where his ancestors would very likely have mingled with those of my future mother-in-law’s, who grew up there).

According to Gary Giddins, Crosby always believed his grandfather Dennis Harrigan Jr. was Irish-born, but in fact he was the only one of his 10 siblings born on Canadian soil. And now you know….the rest of the story.

Posted By vp19 : June 18, 2013 10:45 pm

“As a talent, he was mediocre.”

Utter nonsense. Listen to Crosby’s records, particularly the ones from the early ’30s; most are listenable, some are brilliant (“St. Louis Blues” with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, “Dinah” with the Mills Brothers). Bing was extremely popular in the black community at this time — he was nicknamed the hippest white man in America. No wonder he and Louis Armstrong became close friends.

Gradually, Crosby settled into a mode that was more pop, less jazz, especially after signing with Decca in 1935, and his records tended to be less interesting…but the same can be said for post-Army Presley, or Sinatra after he left Capitol to found reprise. Still, Bing came up with an occasional surprise, such as his lone album for Verve, “Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings,” in which Crosby effortlessly treads on Frank’s “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers” turf, with arranger Buddy Bregman in the role of Nelson Riddle.

Posted By vp19 : June 18, 2013 10:45 pm

“As a talent, he was mediocre.”

Utter nonsense. Listen to Crosby’s records, particularly the ones from the early ’30s; most are listenable, some are brilliant (“St. Louis Blues” with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, “Dinah” with the Mills Brothers). Bing was extremely popular in the black community at this time — he was nicknamed the hippest white man in America. No wonder he and Louis Armstrong became close friends.

Gradually, Crosby settled into a mode that was more pop, less jazz, especially after signing with Decca in 1935, and his records tended to be less interesting…but the same can be said for post-Army Presley, or Sinatra after he left Capitol to found reprise. Still, Bing came up with an occasional surprise, such as his lone album for Verve, “Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings,” in which Crosby effortlessly treads on Frank’s “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers” turf, with arranger Buddy Bregman in the role of Nelson Riddle.

Posted By Doug : June 19, 2013 8:56 am

vp19, thanks for the info on Crosby’s earlier career-he was indeed quite talented.

Posted By Doug : June 19, 2013 8:56 am

vp19, thanks for the info on Crosby’s earlier career-he was indeed quite talented.

Posted By lovebing : June 20, 2013 2:52 pm

i just found this article today. missed robin and the 7 hoods, but remember some of it from the original theatre showing. i have loved bing,his voice and his acting talent since i was a small child. i grew up loving music and musicals and movies. my mother’s family is quite musically talented. there is another reason to like bing—my uncle resembled him a good deal(right down to the ears!). my uncle had a dance band in the forties and played the cornet beautifully(but later had to find a real job to support his growing family). he also had the same easy-going personality that bing had. they both were wonderful people! in closing, i would like to say that “holiday inn” is my favorite christmas movie ever! thank you

Posted By lovebing : June 20, 2013 2:52 pm

i just found this article today. missed robin and the 7 hoods, but remember some of it from the original theatre showing. i have loved bing,his voice and his acting talent since i was a small child. i grew up loving music and musicals and movies. my mother’s family is quite musically talented. there is another reason to like bing—my uncle resembled him a good deal(right down to the ears!). my uncle had a dance band in the forties and played the cornet beautifully(but later had to find a real job to support his growing family). he also had the same easy-going personality that bing had. they both were wonderful people! in closing, i would like to say that “holiday inn” is my favorite christmas movie ever! thank you

Posted By robbushblog : June 21, 2013 5:24 pm

Bing was a great singer and a very talented actor. I have been a fan of him since I was a kid. Unfortunately, he and Elvis both died in 1977, before I could actually appreciate them while they were alive. I was only 2 years old. If we are to criticize entertainers solely for their personal lives, or what some claim they did, there would be no entertainers left to admire. Der Bingle, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dino, Elvis…none were saints, but they were all great singers and entertainers and should be remembered for that.

I have always enjoyed the singing scenes in RAT7H. Bing and Dean singing “Style” together is so darn easygoing and fun. And the two duets with Satch and Frank in High Society are oft-viewed masterpieces for me. “Don’t dig that kind of croonin’, chum.” “You must be one of the new fellows.” That’s gold.

If you want to hear some marvelous Bing narration, crooning and singing, watch the Ichabod Crane half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I watch it every Halloween.

Posted By robbushblog : June 21, 2013 5:24 pm

Bing was a great singer and a very talented actor. I have been a fan of him since I was a kid. Unfortunately, he and Elvis both died in 1977, before I could actually appreciate them while they were alive. I was only 2 years old. If we are to criticize entertainers solely for their personal lives, or what some claim they did, there would be no entertainers left to admire. Der Bingle, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dino, Elvis…none were saints, but they were all great singers and entertainers and should be remembered for that.

I have always enjoyed the singing scenes in RAT7H. Bing and Dean singing “Style” together is so darn easygoing and fun. And the two duets with Satch and Frank in High Society are oft-viewed masterpieces for me. “Don’t dig that kind of croonin’, chum.” “You must be one of the new fellows.” That’s gold.

If you want to hear some marvelous Bing narration, crooning and singing, watch the Ichabod Crane half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I watch it every Halloween.

Posted By vp19 : June 21, 2013 6:00 pm

Crosby indirectly influenced Presley via Dean Martin, who was a major fan of Bing in his youth…and Elvis (“I sing all kinds”) was a big fan of Dino. Listen to some early Crosby records, such as “Out Of Nowhere” and “Just One More Chance,” and you can hear some vocal elements Presley would use a quarter-century later (though I don’t know if Elvis owned or heard any of Bing’s records while growing up).

Posted By vp19 : June 21, 2013 6:00 pm

Crosby indirectly influenced Presley via Dean Martin, who was a major fan of Bing in his youth…and Elvis (“I sing all kinds”) was a big fan of Dino. Listen to some early Crosby records, such as “Out Of Nowhere” and “Just One More Chance,” and you can hear some vocal elements Presley would use a quarter-century later (though I don’t know if Elvis owned or heard any of Bing’s records while growing up).

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:34 pm

It’s hard to imagine Elvis not hearing Crosby while growing up, Der Bingle was everywhere, especially in a world where, aside from print, media options were limited to the movies and a handful of radio stations.

Bing’s relaxed vocal style was certainly an influence on Dino; if you combine that with the singer Martin is on record as calling his biggest influence, the Mills Brothers’ Harry Mills, you’ve got the essentials of his style right there.

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:34 pm

It’s hard to imagine Elvis not hearing Crosby while growing up, Der Bingle was everywhere, especially in a world where, aside from print, media options were limited to the movies and a handful of radio stations.

Bing’s relaxed vocal style was certainly an influence on Dino; if you combine that with the singer Martin is on record as calling his biggest influence, the Mills Brothers’ Harry Mills, you’ve got the essentials of his style right there.

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:49 pm

Bing Crosby on Elvis Presley:

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150392665680158

Certainly more charitable than Frank Sinatra, who called rock and roll singers “cretinous goons”: “He sings in tune, and he’s got good rhythm. He just hasn’t developed enough voice to handle the ballads, but that’ll come.”

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:49 pm

Bing Crosby on Elvis Presley:

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150392665680158

Certainly more charitable than Frank Sinatra, who called rock and roll singers “cretinous goons”: “He sings in tune, and he’s got good rhythm. He just hasn’t developed enough voice to handle the ballads, but that’ll come.”

Posted By Doug : June 22, 2013 10:36 am

A musical Bing highlight:”Pistol Packin’ Momma” with the Andrews sisters.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b39ALX4neIk

Posted By Doug : June 22, 2013 10:36 am

A musical Bing highlight:”Pistol Packin’ Momma” with the Andrews sisters.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b39ALX4neIk

Posted By robbushblog : June 22, 2013 11:06 am

Oh, swac, you beat me to that little kernel of Dean knowledge. Harry Mills was his biggest influence and Dean was a big influence on Elvis. Another big influence on Elvis was a local blues man named Mississippi Slim, but I digress. We were talking about Bing.

“Pistol Packin’ Mama” is a definite highlight of Der Bingle’s repertoire, as was his theme, “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day”, but also “The Whiffenpoof Song”, “Swinging On a Star”, “I Surrender, Dear”, “True Love” and of course, “White Christmas”.

Posted By robbushblog : June 22, 2013 11:06 am

Oh, swac, you beat me to that little kernel of Dean knowledge. Harry Mills was his biggest influence and Dean was a big influence on Elvis. Another big influence on Elvis was a local blues man named Mississippi Slim, but I digress. We were talking about Bing.

“Pistol Packin’ Mama” is a definite highlight of Der Bingle’s repertoire, as was his theme, “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day”, but also “The Whiffenpoof Song”, “Swinging On a Star”, “I Surrender, Dear”, “True Love” and of course, “White Christmas”.

Posted By robbushblog : June 22, 2013 11:14 am
Posted By robbushblog : June 22, 2013 11:14 am
Posted By swac44 : June 22, 2013 12:50 pm

There’s a clip out there of the Mills Brothers on Dean Martin’s variety show in the ’60s, and Dino really comes alive, like a little kid. It’s fun to watch The Coolest Man Who Ever Lived light up like that.

Ah, here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWKKG6TQDzk

Posted By swac44 : June 22, 2013 12:50 pm

There’s a clip out there of the Mills Brothers on Dean Martin’s variety show in the ’60s, and Dino really comes alive, like a little kid. It’s fun to watch The Coolest Man Who Ever Lived light up like that.

Ah, here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWKKG6TQDzk

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