Bill Hagen (
Thu, 20 May 1999 01:07:04 -0500 (CDT) We did a thread on hard-boiled or "noir music" sometime back, which should
be in the archives.

One distinction to make is between music that has the right atmosphere and
music that tells the right tales. Jazz from the bop era comes to mind for
the first category, and urban blues seems to fit the second, espec. as sung
by a voice that seems to have lived the story. A number of respondents
have listed some good artists. In-between are all those songs of forlorn
love by popular band singers, such as Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday,
creating a sound that permeates noir films.

Among contemporary artists, I really like the sound of Tom Waits. His 1998
album, "Beautiful Maladies," collects such memorable song-tales as "Earth
Dies Screaming," "Shore Leave," and "Way Down in the Hole." All sung in a
voice that is, um, unique. For an homage to noir music, as interpreted by
rock-jazz artist who uses instruments and tape, try John Zorn's "Naked
City," the CD with a body on the cover.

Since neither of these artists is to everyone's taste, I recommend shopping
at a store where you can listen before you buy.

The question about painters prompted me to get down one of my favorite
library sale finds, _The Regionalists_ by Nancy Heller and Julia Williams,
which has a chapter on urban realists. Apart from Hopper and Benton
(already mentioned), I see some nice New York scenes by Raphael Soyer and
Isaac Soyer, and some wonderfulcrowd scenes by Reginald Marsh and Paul

You said you had the film area under control, but perhaps don't know about
two documentaries that celebrate/analyze film noir. One is a segment of
the American Cinema series, designed for film/popular culture studies and
marketed by Annenberg (Time-Life?); the other is approx. half hour show
which weaves together clips to develop major themes, called "You Kill Me,"
narrated by Will Hare, developed for American Movie Classics.

Given all the response you've gotten, I hope you'll post the syllabus--or
at least send me one--once you put together the course.

Bill Hagen

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