Tuesday, May 10, 2011

While on the subject of old pop culture

This is a big deal:
The Library of Congress is one of the most splendid resources in the country--which is terrific, if you're in DC. For those who aren't (and even who are!), the Library's putting a massive audio archive online, for free.

The "National Jukebox," available on a streaming-only basis, unfortunately, is a massive trove of audio recordings. Music, speeches, humor readings--spanning decades of American history. The original words of Teddy Roosevelt. "Rhapsody in Blue" with George Gershwin on piano. Serious national gems. And, due to some cuddling with Sony, the label's entire pre-1925 catalog will be accessible, encompassing a significant (and widely forgotten) musical past.
In terms of popular art, the first quarter of the Twentieth Century may be the most important and creative twenty-five years... period. New genres. New media. Gershwin. Keaton. McCay. Wodehouse. To study this period is to realize just how much of what we still read, watch and listen to is built on a framework that's almost a century old.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder whether that has anything to do with works published before 1923 being in the public domain.