Saturday 10 December 2016

Kevin Myers: Our traditions, for good or evil, shape us all

Published 02/09/2011 | 18:00

'HOUND Dog' is perhaps the most influential piece of verse in the latter half of the 20th Century. Its author, Jerry Leiber, was called ashore last week, after a life in which he either created or inspired some of the greatest popular music of our time. Needless to say, he was Jewish.

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Most popular musical forms of the 20th Century have been the work of Jews. It is absurd but true: 'My Fair Lady', 'The King and I', 'South Pacific', 'Oliver', 'Oklahoma', 'Camelot', 'Porgy and Bess', and 'Jailhouse Rock' were all written by about half a dozen members of a tiny Semitic sect of exiles from Palestine.

Without a handful of other Jewish songwriters -- Doc Pomus, Mort Schuman, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller -- there really would be no Elvis Presley or rock and roll. Deduct Robert Zimmerman -- aka Bob Dylan -- and Carole King and bang goes 20th-Century popular musical culture.

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