"If it's good enough for Granddad, it's good enough for me..." So say the Squirrel Nut Zippers on their 1995 album "The Inevitable," and so says a generation of hip young ladies and gentleman, discovering an ancient musical art form called Swing for the first time.

It's not just the Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington bands selling records today, though: young America is swinging to the sounds of such in-your-face bands as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Atomic Fireballs, and Rocket 88. Featuring hyperactive tempos, super-amplified sound, and stage presences that would impress even Cab Calloway at his zaniest, these new artists have taken Swing in directions its founding fathers never dreamed it could go: mainstream in the '90s.

The roots of this Retro movement, the modern definition of Swing, and how Americans choose to remember a music and its history are all issues that this project will explore. The rebirth of a style, taste, or idea from the past is always an intriguing occurance, but Swing's second coming is a particularly improbable one. How could Swing, a dead form of Jazz whose original fans are drawing Social Security today, become a staple of Generation X's musical appetite? It's a hard question to answer, but one fact's for certain: this ain't your Granddad's Swing.

The Evolution of Swing The "Swing Kids" Soundtrack Squirrel Nut Zippers
The "Swingers" Soundtrack Why Swing, Why Today? Bibliography

This project relies heavily on streaming sound examples, and you will need a Real Audio player.

Send comments and suggestions to Austin Graham, tag2y@virginia.edu

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  • Austin Graham's American Studies Page
  • American Studies @ UVa