What's in a song? A work of art penned by genius or or the cynical creation of a machine-age hack desperate to exploit our natural sentimentality? One thing is certain: the best songs have the ability to capture our dreams, emotions and aspirations unlike any other art form. The truly great songs continue to do this for millions of people the world over.
Accompanying the major new BBC2 television series, Walk on By tells the story of these great songs and the world that created them. The journey begins with Thomas Edison's first cylinder recordings and the birthplace of modern music - New York's legendary Tin Pan Alley, and continues through London's West End and New York's Broadway musical revivals of today, via the hugely diverse heritage of modern musical forms, from ragtime to hillbilly, rock to jazz, and punk to rap.
Walk on By tells the story of many of the greatest talents this music has witnessed: songwriters and performers who have changed the course of history with a song. Also featured are the 'backroom boys' - the arrangers, pluggers, session musicians, publishers, recording engineers and producers - who make the music so special.
But Walk on By features more than just the music. Through the stories of the songs and their creators, it chronicles the social history of the world of diverse musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Featured throughout are the most influential songs of the last 100 years - from the golden age of song in the 1920s and 1930s, to blues and jazz, the crooners, rock and roll, easy listening, and much much more.
Told through countless archive clips, numerous celebrity interviews and a narrator, the eight-episode BBC series tells the story of one hundred years of popular song. Starting with the thesis of popular song developing through the joining of the musical traditions of European Jews and African blacks in USA in early 20th century, the series continues to cover the jazz era singers, the birth of rock'n'roll, the new-found role of the pop producer, the multiple style developments from Britain and America in the 1960's, the country music blossom period, the use of popular music on stage and on screen, and the background of the modern-day manufactured pop artist.