Ongoing History Daily: Old people have always blamed music for corrupting society. See?

The music of the younger generation has always used as a scapegoat for the world’s ills by older generations. This has been going on for centuries. But let’s go back 100 years to when this new thing called “jazz” was emerging as a dominant genre among young people, something that the older generations and music critics saw as a ghastly sound that needed to be stomped out because of its corrupting influence and overall immortality. These are actual newspaper headlines from the 1920s:

  • “Jazz is blamed for lack of farm labour”
  • “Jazz blamed for girls leaving home”
  • “Jazz age is the cause for heavy increase in heart failures.”
  • “Jazz music blamed for small families.”
  • “Jazz ruins legs; blamed for loss of grace.”
  • “Jazz music with meals is so stimulating that it takes too much blood away from the stomach and causes indigestion.”
  • “Jazz blamed for dull pupils.”
  • And here’s my favourite from a Boston newspaper: “Jazz blamed for warts on feet.”

Any of these sentiments sound familar? The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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