The Don CeSar and Music Through the Decades

The function and façade of this historical structure seemed ever-changing. Through more than eight decades she has seen the likes of kings, presidents, athletes and movie stars, she has withstood hurricane force winds, the threat of a wrecking ball and four wars. She has taken in the ill and pampered the wealthy. The Don CeSar can be likened to a symbol for stability and grace.

Music through the decades can serve as an acoustic understanding of what the diverse times were like through the years of the Don CeSar. The music of each decade is a vocal representation reflecting a changing culture and tells stories of pain, love, struggle, oppression, happiness, and prosperity.

The 1920’s are characterized by economic opulence; the clothing and hair style of the flapper, and of course, the music. The “Roaring Twenties” began with the victrola being the main source of music to the masses. The radio was beginning to make its rounds as station opened up across the country throughout the decade. As the “Harlem Renaissance” was taking place, history gives it credit for the controversial jazz sounds of this decade, later dubbed the “Jazz Age”. Prohibition also added to the underground party mood of the times.

Popular Musicians
Bessie Smith
Duke Ellington
George Gershwin
Louis Armstrong- West End Blues

With the stock market crash of 1929 and other variables came The Great Depression. It would last until approximately 1941. The depression created a black cloud over the country as poverty set in. The population expanded in cities across the country as rural areas became desolate. The popular music of this time period was ironically very upbeat. Swing music, Big Band and Jazz are trademarks of the decade.The entertainment industry (music and film) realized and capitalized on what became a comfort to the people allowing the possibility of hope in the midst of the despair of the depression. Films began to feature numerous dance and musical numbers. The actors and the music became as popular as musicians on the radio. If only for a short period of time, the happy music and carefree appearance of the film stars brought a sense of escape from the miserable reality.

Popular Musicians
Bing Crosby
Guy Lombardo
Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
Benny Goodman- “Sing, Sing, Sing”
Tommy Dorsey
Judy Garland
Duke Ellington
Billie Holiday
Fletcher Henderson
Ella Fitzgerald
Glen Miller

This decade begins with World War II, which pulled the United States out of the Depression through the industry of war production. Women were leaving their homes to replace the men off at war in the workplace. The Big Band sound that produced war time music was popular. The songs were characterized by their nostalgic qualities as people yearned for the end of war and simpler times. This decade began the baby boom. Many famous singers began their careers as lead singer in an orchestra or ‘Big Band’ but soon went solo changing the popular sound, such as Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Doris Day.

Popular Musicians
Charlie Parker
Vera Lynn
Frank Sinatra
Glen Miller Orchestra- “In the Mood”
Ella Fitzgerald

This decade is exemplified by a culture in need of a change. Father Knows Best and The Adventures Ozzie & Harriet were the ideal family unit. Children and woman did not speak their mind and knew their place. Poodle skirts and Drive-in movies were popular, but quickly began to beg for a makeover. The youth and feminist culture began to rebel as rock 'n' roll was born. Racial tensions were also stirring as Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 Birmingham. Marilyn Monroe and James Dean are important entertainers of the era.

Popular Musicians
Elvis Presley- “Hound Dog”
Buddy Holly
Laurence Welk
Nat King Cole
Dean Martin

The 1960’s, where to start? A turbulent decade began with John F. Kennedy, as he moved into the White House and delivers his “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country speech,” in 1961 and was assassinated in 1963. Martin Luther King helped to change civil rights and was also assassinated in this decade, 1968. The Vietnam War progresses through this decade and gives way to a “free love” and “free thinking” society igniting protests and controversy. Political views enhanced with awareness and the idea of questioning authority found there way into the music of the decade and the culture itself. “Hippies” and mind altering hallucinogenic drugs become popular. Our culture experienced an overseas import that became a phenomenom and changed the face of music,The Beatles. “Psychedelic” music was introduced by Pink Floyd and Woodstock took place in 1967.

Popular Musicians
Jimi Hendrix – “Castles Made of Sand”
Bob Dylan
Simon & Garfunkel
Rolling Stones
Grateful Dead- “Casey Jones”
The Beatles

If the previous decade was full of protest and political awareness, this decade seemed to tire of “the cause” as it grew more widely accepted and was no longer “radical”. The war had ended, the Civil Rights Act and Feminism progressed, however, visionary leaders seemingly ceased to exist. The music that had been a voice for the generation now spoke for itself. The one thing that maintained a strong hold on the youth and the culture was mind altering drugs which rallied the people underneath a flashy, shiny spinning globe. The disco era was upon us. This decade witnessed the death of Elvis Presley, Watergate, Studio 54, Roe v. Wade, introduction to Bob Marley and his reggae sound and the breakup of The Beatles. This decade also began to clearly draw a line between different musical genres. Although tradition "Elvis" type rock 'n' roll was technically over a new anti disco scene eventually developed in punk rock and we saw the emergence of country music.

Popular Musicians
Led Zepplin
Neil Young
Elton John
The Bee Gees- “Saturday Night”
Fleetwood Mac
John Lennon
Bob Marley
Rod Stewert

This decade is epitomized by a materialistic culture in pursuit of affluence and wealth. Donald Trump, the Forbes list and ‘The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ became mainstream. The country was introduced to Princess Diana, Cabbage Patch Kids, AIDS, and Madonna. Sandra Day O’Conner became the first woman on the Supreme Court in 1981 and John Lennon was gunned down in New York City in 1980. Michael Jackson ‘Moon walked’ onto our television screens. MTV was born and had a huge impact on the music of the decade and helped introduce a new genre, rap.

Popular Musicians
Bruce Springsteen
Madonna- “Material Girl”
The Police
Cyndi Lauper
Michael Jackson
Culture Club

The 1990’s saw an eruption of technology. Cell phone, personal computers, palm pilot, and a little thing nicknamed the ‘information superhighway.’ We were introduced to the Persian Gulf War, the O.J. Simpson trial and the President Clinton sex scandal. This decade saw the massive merging of record labels, entertainment companies and radio stations. The musicians became signed based on target demographic group polling. With the introduction of the Compact Disc, this also became a tool in order to monitor sales. The artistic entertainment world of music became a corporate money maker and this decade saw no real significant change or impact. The Seattle credited sound of Grunge excelled while its polar opposite, Rap music, also flourished.

Popular Muscians
Mariah Carey
Janet Jackson
Dr. Dre
Pearl Jam
New Kids on the Block
Alanis Morisette
Snoop Dogg

by: Suzanne White
photo placement: Suzanne White & April Slazas


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