Happy Birthday, Artie Shaw!

Today marks the 112th anniversary of the birth of one of the giants of big band swing, Artie Shaw.

Born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, Shaw, who grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, was said to be a cantankerous, difficult sort of fellow who never really was satisfied with the music he was expected to play. The demands of stardom reined him in. As he put it in a 1994 profile in The New York Times, “I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted, but all they wanted was ‘Begin the Beguine.'”

Well, heck, yes, we want Begin the Beguine! It’s one of the greatest recordings of the big band era. But we can see how a musician—any artist, really—can begin to feel creatively stifled by the expectations of fans and the press. But it’s sad that Shaw appears to have found little joy in the music he created, the music that has brought so much pleasure to the rest of us.

Heck, even Shaw’s theme song, which he composed, went against the joyful grain that characterized most swing music. It’s called Nightmare, and it is aptly named. Imagine being a swing fan in the late 1930s and getting the chance to take in a show by one of your favorite orchestras and having them open the show with that unsettling number!

Shaw retired repeatedly throughout his career, finally giving up the clarinet for good in 1954 (I wonder if he ever dreamed at the time he would live another half-century), and the reason he offered was his own perfectionism. “In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last,” Shaw told Michael Freedland in 2001. “You have to be Lawrence Welk, or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I’m not able to do that.”

Here’s hoping Shaw found some peace in the fifty years he lived mostly apart from music. For the rest of us, we have the many records he left us, which amount to as a great a legacy as virtually any other musician from that era.

We’re featuring Shaw’s music all day today, so why not tune in now?

Help Keep Cladrite Radio Alive and Streaming

Recently we’ve had a couple of sizable expenses arise: We learned we owe an additional $500 in licensing for Cladrite Radio (the price of an ever-growing listenership), and it’s time to renew our internet hosting account (we generally sign up for three-year contracts, so as to avoid having to make posts like this very often, and that’s what we hope to do this time).

Some of you already support us via Patreon.com, and without your support, Cladrite Radio couldn’t continue to stream the toe-tapping tunes of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. We’re so grateful for your loyal support.

But we have literally thousands of listeners and followers (we’re about to reach the 20,000-follower mark on Facebook, for example) who haven’t yet supported us, and it’s to those folks we turn to ask for help.

The DVD and Blu-Ray set

We have a pair of “raffles” to entice you: Anyone who is a monthly sponsor of Cladrite Radio via either Patreon.com or BuyMeaCoffee.com as of August 1 will be entered in a drawing to receive Preston Sturges’ classic screwball comedy The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) on DVD—this includes current sponsors and new ones.

For those who prefer to chip in on a one-time basis, anyone who has contributed at least $5 via BuyMeaCoffee or Paypal by August 15 will have their name entered in a drawing for the Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection, which includes restored editions of The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933) on Blu-Ray. You’ll be given another chance to win for every $5 you contribute.

The real reward, though, we hope you’ll agree, is that you’ll be helping to keep Cladrite Radio alive and streaming and contributing to the continuation of the vintage entertainment content that we share on our website and via social media. If you like the music we play on Cladrite Radio and enjoy the video tributes and other content we share here, please consider chipping in to keep it coming. Thank you.

130 Years of Cole Porter

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Cole Porter. The Peru, Indiana, native was a remarkably talented songwriter—one of the true greats—even if he didn’t resemble Cary Grant even a little bit.

To celebrate the occasion, we are featuring Porter’s songs, as performed by a wide variety of artists, all day today. Why not tune in right now?

Cole Porter quote