Welcome to the American Tune Tribune
Spotlighting the classic and new performers of the American Songbook.
Click the links on the homepage for live audio and our video of the day.
Click on the articles for the latest news and reviews of jazz standards and pre-rock classics as they were written, performed, and sustained by our greatest artists—then and now!
From Editorial Director Rusty Cutchin
As the 21st century progresses, as the music business and pop culture chart their inevitable new courses, and as Americans who lived through the Depression and second world war pass from the scene, the music of the pre-rock era has gained a surprising number of new converts. The generation that recorded the most important of that music in audio and video form is now known, thanks to Tom Brokaw, as “the greatest generation” of Americans. Part of their greatness (along with, oh, surviving economic collapse and saving the world from tyranny) is in the multimedia record they left us—a legacy that inspires young performers to adopt and perform their music, now known under another new term: the “great American Songbook.”
Conceived and registered in 2008, the American Tune Tribune aims to honor the originals and the inheritors—the composers and performers who created the music in the first half of the 20th century and the ones who carried it forward in the second half and continue to celebrate it today. The focus here will be on news and articles about classic American pop—the recordings and the performances that promise to keep the music alive and thriving. We’ll look not only at traditional pop releases and performances, but also jazz and cabaret interpretations for those who want more intensity in the musical and lyrical components, respectively, of the Songbook. We’ll post schedules of performances, and we’ll throw in dashes of critical interpretation, because it’s worth knowing why this music is relevant in a changing musical landscape dominated by audio effects, performance histrionics, monotonous arrangements, and lyrical immaturity.
Of course, those musical deficiencies existed in the American Songbook, too. This web site won’t be simply a place to wish for the good old days, although the sentiment is understandable. Many articles on the Tune Tribune will be contributed by writers who are also musicians—players raised on rock who understand the differences and advantages of the pre-rock canon as well as the significant innovations of the rock era. We’ll discuss rockers (from Linda Ronstadt to John Mayer to Queen Latifah) who have reinterpreted standards and those who are worthy successors to the Kerns and Berlins and the Sinatras and Clooneys, like the recent winners of the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize: Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, as well as younger artists whose composing and performing bodies of work rival those of their forebears.
The needs of the music business have always dictated that what’s new and fresh must be perceived as better. In every decade, writers, arrangers, and singers have sought to disassociate themselves from music created only a few years before. From our perch, here in the second decade of the 21st century, we can create a clear picture of a body of musical work that’s “never coming back,” in one sense, but also never left. That’s what the American Tune Tribune is all about. Join us! Bookmark the site. Subscribe to the newsfeed (there should be a little box up top in the address bar). Follow us on Facebook, YouTube, and other new gathering places, as we celebrate the past and enjoy the young jazz and theatrical vocalists and musicians who keep the American Songbook relevant and rockin’.