Crosby, Bing

Crosby, Bing: A twentieth-century American singer and actor.

For about a decade, the United States was enamored with three male singers. (Of course, you could argue this point, and your three would probably be as good as the three I’m going to present.)

But for the sake of discussion, let me say that this trio of crooners was:

Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Bing Crosby

They were very different men, and not just by having individual names, but by lifestyle. It was intriguing that for the first time in our history, Mr. Cole, a black man was included in the upper echelon of the singing triumvirate.

Bing Crosby was fascinating because he was known for comedies and light, romantic romps—and his famous baritone voice was relished by young and old alike. Matter of fact, to this day it is nearly impossible to envision a cozy seat by the fireplace at Christmas without hearing old Bing intone, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

Then out come the books:

  • Accusations that he was cruel, vindictive and even abusive to his children.
  • A womanizer.
  • And assertions that he may have had more in mind than snow when he sought a “White Christmas.”

You see, this syndrome was not invented by our 24-hour news cycle.

Throughout our history, we have loved to create heroes and extol the talent in a person so that we could turn around and expose dirty details to bring the elevated champion down a notch or two.

For instance, people insist that George Washington, the father of our country—the man who suffered at Valley Forge—who persevered to win us our freedom?

Tee-hee-hee: he had wooden teeth.

Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, who held our nation together through the Civil War?

Tee-tee-hee: he might just have slept in a bed with another man.

We are incorrigible children in search of information to feed our gossip frenzy.

It’s fine if it is truthful.

But if it is not, we are still willing to consider it, to tickle our fancy.

I don’t know whether there is a celebrity or a notable who has not suffered under this microscope of mangling.

But for me, I still hear a gentle man, smoking a pipe, singing “White Christmas,” cutting up with awfully silly jokes, with Bob Hope, while they’re On the Road to somewhere or another.

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Crooner

Crooner: (n) someone who utilizes smooth but exaggerated singing

Late one night, as a friend and I drove across the expanses of the American prairie, where it was so lonesome and dark that even the prairie dogs had turned in for the night, we quickly discovered that we were getting sleepy.

We tried eating.

We tried listening to the radio.

We tried talking. (I think we confessed all the sins and indiscretions from our youth at least three times over.)

While flipping around the radio, we discovered a channel set aside exclusively for old-time singers like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

We were deeply surprised at how much production was put into each and every song, and how these crooners took every single tune and made it sound the same as the others—simply by homogenizing the words and blending the tones together to develop the same consistency on every ballad.

We got tickled.

We decided to take great rock and roll songs and sing them to one another as if we were crooners. From “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, to “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues, to “Hang On Sloopy,” by the McCoys, to “Get Back” by the Beatles—each rendition was funnier than the last.

After all, rock and roll is known for separating words and lyrics, almost in a syncopated style. When you smear it all together, it not only loses its beat, but certainly threatens to remove all meaning.

Crooners are interesting vocalists.

They took a time in our history, when we wanted our background music to be nearly symphonic, and then they added cottage cheese vocals, to make everything resound with romance.

Still, I don’t think anything else could have kept us awake that night, as we drove across Americana.

It was especially funny when we decided to do our “crooner rendition” of the Kiss song, “I’m Gonna Rock and Roll All Night and Party Every Day.”

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