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1932 Fifty Years Ago

July 2024
1min read

William Cardinal O’Connell of Boston was worried about morality in media. “I desire to speak earnestly about a degenerate form of singing which is called crooning,” he told the Holy Name Society. “No true American would practice this base art. I like to use my radio, when weary,” he continued. “But I cannot turn the dials without getting these whiners crying vapid words to impossible tunes.

“If you will listen closely when you are unfortunate enough to get one of these, you will discern the basest appeal to sex emotions in the young. They are not true love songs, they profane the name. They are ribald and revolting to true men. ”

Madame Frances Aldo, the celebrated diva, agreed. She had eight radio receivers scattered about Casa Mia , her home in Great Neck, Long Island, she said, but she rarely listened to any of them for more than five minutes because of the ubiquitous crooners singing songs “which are an offense to listeners of taste and discrimination.” Radio, she said, should instead foster a musical renaissance in America, a renaissance that would include a great many “entire opera productions.” The New York Singing Teachers’ Association concurred: crooning, its members unanimously resolved, “robs the human voice of its ability to express the higher emotions … [and] corrupts the mind and ideals of the younger generation.”

The New York Times sided with the Cardinal and his supporters, but counseled patience. “Crooners,” it concluded, “will soon go the way of tandem bicycles, mah jong and midget golf.”

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