When we started this project, three years ago on August 29th, we began with mundane charts and the Invasion of Poland, September 1st, 1939. No one remembers when we changed over to mainly nativities, but by February 2017 we were back to the natals I had started as a solo project several years previous.
It must have been around March when Hoagy Carmichael, not part of the Jones 1000 surprisingly, was suggested but I no longer remember why. He was tough, so tough, that we finally gave up and shelved him. We decided that this musical genius could just about fit anything, & our software, Matrix’s WinStar Basic though better than anything on the web was still kludgey & imprecise and we lost hope. I think it was Hoagy that forced the upgrade to Kepler, a mixed bag to be honest and not one I am sure I would recommend, but it is far superior to WB.
Recently, a friend who reads the blog, asked “How bout Hoagy?” and I recanted our travail. He laughed, and I thought, surely by now with nearly 800 charts under our belt, we could tackle him; well that’s the hope, but rectification is a tricky thing and you never can tell.
A circus act
When Hoagy was born on November 22, 1899, in Bloomington Indiana, the the center of the nation’s population was on Henry Marr’s farm in Columbus roughly 40 miles due east. Because of its proximity, to the “center of the nation,” it was a popular tourist area, as everyone was coming from miles around to see what that the “center” looked like. Travelling acts toured came to Bloomington to entertain the masses, and one called the the Hoagland’s High Wire Act stayed at the Carmichael home for a bit — and gave the yet to be born baby his rather unique name. His middle name was far more prosaic: Howard, named for his electrician father — a new field thanks to the inventive Thomas Alva Edison.
We pegged Hoagy to being born sometime around 12 noon — the historic time for the coronation of kings, though odd set for someone born in the Heartland of America, but more apropos than anyone had then realized. His biographer, Richard Sudhalter met him on trip to Buenos Aires and was so entranced by Hoagy he wrote his biography, calling him the “most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented of all the great craftsmen” in the first half of the 20th century. To be honest, that’s probably an understatement as so much of he did affected so many other musicians afterwards. This illustrious time though, gives Hoagy the symbol of 23 Aquarius (HS) of “The Koran Upraised” with the keyword of “Justification.” Kent McClung in his Hyperion Symbols writes this is suggestive of someone who is accepted as a “king” based more on his nature than birth.
Hoagy’s midheaven is 09 Sagittarius or “crickets chirping in the tall grass on a sunny day” was actually performed in the Bogart-Bacall classic “To Have and Have not.” The ad blurbs joked about Bogey and Hoagy and Bacall, it was an obvious quip, and good copy.
the begin of the beguine
Like many songwriters before the 1960’s Hoagy began his songwriting career on Tin Pan Alley like Scott Joplin, Cole Porter (who and not Hoagy wrote the Begin of the Beguine but also a Hoosier), Irving Berlin & more recently Burt Bacharach, & Neil Diamond. He was the first though, to transition over as a singer of his own songs. Not to let the grass grow under his feat, Hoagy true to his Aquarius rising was the first to utilize new technologies as they came along like television, electronic microphones and sound recordings, * but there he was following his old man’s footsteps and hitching his star to the trend.
Hoagy though came to music because he was forced to withdraw from law school on January 3, 1923 , not because he did not like the law but because he could not pay the tuition. His mother had been a music teacher so he had learned to read and write music on the piano from her, and he was selling a song here and there on the Campus, so Hoagy had an inkling that this may pan out.
His hunch was right and he had many more hits and almost single-handedly fueled the Big Bands of the 30’s. The famous “Old Buttermilk Sky” that put the Kay Kyser band on the map, and one of the first tunes played by our trumpet impresario Bobby Guy, was written by Hoagie. Ray Charles’s famous “Georgia” was penned by Hoagie too. And of course, there was StarDust.
As his songs caught on, other Alley writers were able to successfully transition too and music,and musicals were the theme of the day. His music was so much a part of Americana that many of them are just called “Standards” — songs that every vocalist is expected to be sing for their first job when they have no music of their own — just ask that heart throb of the 30’s Frank Sinatra.
“Play me a Hoagy Carmichael song and I hear the banging of a screen door and the whine of an outboard motor on a lake—sounds of summerWilliam Zinsser, author of “On Writing Well” in The American Scholar 1994
in a small-town America that is long gone but still longed for.”
- Tin Pan Alley took its name from a small side street in NYC at 28th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway in the early 20th century. It was a joke on the sound of pianos being pounded as their writers demonstrated their tunes to the musical publishers. The songwriters, all independents (they were not employed by the musical publishers by paid by royalty) created the commercial music of the day. Originally major sales were for home musicians and vaudeville, then player pianos and eventually songs for established vocalists, Broadway and bands to perform.
- Philadelphia’s famous Hoagie sandwich was not named for him.