Talk:Great American Songbook

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Original Research tag[edit]

Let me start by saying that this article is probably entirely true, BUT it is still going to need more sources and citations. Try searching on Google Scholar, because I'm sure that there have been studies on this somewhere. Also, if the sources that are cited confirm all of the information presented in the article, then there need to be more in-text citations so readers are assured that the article is of high quality. — OranL (talk) 22:39, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Stevie Wonder, Astrud Gilberto?[edit]

Stevie Wonder also interpreted the Songbook ("Hello, Young Lovers", "God Bless The Child," and "At Last" among others), as did Astrud Gilberto ("Day by Day," "Fly Me To The Moon"). Just wanted to see them included in the list of interpreters. (talk) 22:15, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Once you get to listing popular singers who have dipped their toe in the songbook to add some variety to their concert repertoire, you are talking about a very very long list of singers. Marvin Gaye actually wanted to be a soul Frank Sinatra in his early Motown years; many 1960s singers did a few songbook numbers in their nightclub sets. I don't personally think adding each and every contemporary singer who has sung a few standards is adding much to the article (which currently lists Morrissey and Pat Benatar as practitioners). — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1700:AC20:9230:ED8B:6CD6:5B3E:F459 (talk) 23:56, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

Who's on the list?[edit]

Antonio Carlos Jobim part of the Great American Songbook? *scratching head* Really? --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 05:35, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

There's no official membership list, and he's clearly not one of the primary names, but he gets many Google hits in this context. But if you have expertise/deep knowledge in this subject, feel free to correct, or to break the names out into major and minor contributors. Wasted Time R 16:12, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
well, the expression is "the great AMERICAN songbook". There are a lot of google hits, but that's mostly because the same people who interpret the American standards also interpret Jobim. Likewise Michel Legrand. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 04:34, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Country Western[edit]

Add it if you want (I think something should be said about this) - Various country artists, most notable Willy Nelson (Stardust), have also sung from the GAS. Ghaller 00:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Make a template[edit]

A template page containing something like the box at the bottom of the page should be made. That way, when people are added/removed, every page that contains the template is updated (as opposed to going through each by hand). 01:59, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Ask and ye shall receive. :) see {{Great American Songbook}}  — MrDolomite | Talk 05:38, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Perry Como[edit]

Why is Perry Como not on the infobox list of American songbook singers? If you look at Perry Como LPs the great majority of them are "standards". --Sicamous 18:20, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Because nobody has added him to the infobox, that's all! Feel free to; I'm also surprised he isn't there. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 16:33, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Duh! I gotta wake myself up. I added him --Sicamous 04:16, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


I see the warning is at the top again about the lack of sources referenced. Exactly what statements in the article need support from citations? From a quick skim I can't see anything in particular. I suppose that if you want to give the canon of names/songs some more backup then cite Friedwald or Alex Wilder, maybe. --ND 20:19, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

The entire article needs to be sourced. There is no source for the title "Great American Songbook", all the songs, etc, etc... There needs to be references and citations. I'm not saying that I think the article is not accurate, I think is is. But without citations and references it is not encyclopedic. What I don't want to see happen is songs listed because someone just happens to think it qualifies as part of the songbook. I also don't want this to be original research. It is not unusual that articles get written without attribution, the tag makes that clear. -- Samuel Wantman 21:04, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:CompleteEllaSongbooks.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:CompleteEllaSongbooks.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 20:39, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


"For its devotees, the Great American Songbook represents a level of musical and lyrical sophistication that has yet to be equaled."

Erm, you can say that about any group of fans of anything. It's POV distilled perfectly into a sentence. --Dweller (talk) 13:33, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I happen to agree with the POV, but it would be better to quote someone notable and influential on the question of the GAS's importance. (talk) 19:17, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I quite deliberately added the weasel-words "nebulously-defined concept" because they exactly describe the GAS. I recently added "As Time Goes By", "Folks Who Live on the Hill" and a few other songs that nobody in his right mind would object to, but I held off on "A Fine Romance" because it's a duet - go figure. I know this is an encyclopedia, but I think it's important to keep the definition nebulous, or it would become a pointless war. (Why is 1960 the cut-off date? Well, it just IS, and should stay that way.) But given the above, sources are still desperately needed, even if they only point to nebulous statements from various nebulous "greats" (Diana Krall? Umm ... probably. Rickie Lee Jones? Ehhh...) who interpret the songs. Thoughts welcome. Stephen Foster (talk) 05:04, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

I have seen a book (or books) of sheet music called "The Great American Songbook". I think what the article is really missing is the origin of the phrase and who decided the cut off date of 1960? Saying "Well, it just IS" doesn't quite cut it in an encyclopedia. Steve Lowther (talk) 15:54, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

"Sophistication"? What is that? It originally meant adulterated, false, and devious. According to the wikipedia entry, it is still not an entirely positive quality:

Sophistication is the quality of refinement — displaying good taste, wisdom and subtlety rather than crudeness, stupidity and vulgarity. In the perception of social class, sophistication can link with concepts such as status, privilege and superiority.

This gets to why the songs so nostalgically described here fell out of favor. I am not saying it is a good thing, but the fact is that the appeal of these songs is far from universal, as claimed in the article, unless you define universal as able to be easily switched from one musical comedy to another, as the article (absurdly) does. (talk) 12:54, 30 September 2011 (UTC)


A "Great American Songbook" template is apparently now being placed on each of the artists involved. But "Great American Songbook" is not a very commonly used term, and there is in fact no reliable source given in this article for the term. Who uses it? How widely is it used? Let's get it cited, or change the title, as with the template there will be a lot more eyes on the page. - Nunh-huh 20:26, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Why do you think it's not a very commonly used term? Try typing the phrase into Google--you get 383,000 hits, including the titles of countless jazz & popsong albums. This is such an easily verifiable fact that I fail to see the need for a citation. --ND (talk) 09:28, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
I created that template and I now think it's outlived it's usefulness. Anyone who sang a single song from the canon is now included, and it's vast and unweidly. Is Shelby Flint really equal to Sinatra or Fitzgerald? We should deff uase Wilder for citing the term, but as for artists, it's a NPOV minefield. Jobim, anyone? Gareth E Kegg (talk) 10:02, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree with the creator :P) that the template really is too selective/POV, in an incredibly expansive set of articles, to be useful, and should be removed from the articles on which it has been placed. But the term also needs sourcing, and a brief history of its origins and current use needs to be added to the article. - Nunh-huh 23:45, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

The template has been nominated for deletion. It suffers from the same lack of sourcing that this article does. -- SamuelWantman 07:39, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

The article needs to say something about the term "Great American Songbook" - when it originated and so forth. It is not simply self-explanatory.Sylvain1972 (talk) 03:31, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Fats Waller[edit]

I suppose Fats Waller wasn't important enough to appear in your songbook list. -- (talk) 05:01, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

The thing about Wikipedia is that when you see something missing, you add it. If someone has a problem with what you add, they fix it. Jasendorf (talk) 15:19, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
He is immensely important. But hasn't his work been considered part of the [[Jazz standard]s tradition? Gareth E Kegg (talk) 15:43, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Waller was important for many reasons (singer, virtuoso pianist, most visible early jazz organist, songwriter, etc.)--American popular music would not be the same without him. However, the number of compositions that he wrote that have achieved the status of standards is not large (probably fewer than a dozen). His most productive period as a song composer was during the late 1920s, when he wrote many songs for Harlem musical reviews. Many of these pieces were musical throwaways designed to showcase a particular singer, dancer or comedian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1700:AC20:9230:ED8B:6CD6:5B3E:F459 (talk) 23:46, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

Kurt Weil?[edit]

Why does Kurt Weil not qualify? (talk) 11:14, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

How about Gus Kahn as an adjunct to Isham Jones?


Should the title be italicized? Hyacinth (talk) 03:31, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Why? It's not actually the name of a songbook; it's a concept. --jpgordon::==( o ) 03:36, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Too much emphasis on Wilder's opinions?[edit]

While I certainly think that Alec Wilder's book is worth mentioning I'm not sure that his informal pecking order of GAS composers should be included in full. All of this stuff is subjective, of course, but Wilder doesn't even include Sammy Fain in his list, and it's a bit of a mystery to me how such a prolific composer of GAS standards as Harry Warren would not rate in the very highest echelon of GAS songwriters. Badmintonhist (talk) 17:22, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Jonathan Schwartz[edit]

- removed reference to Jonathan Schwartz. Some consider him an authority, others consider him an opportunist who is not a real authority on the subject. For the sake of neutrality and keeping this Wikipedia entry more legitimate, it's best to omit Mr. Schwartz — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:28, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Unsubstantiated charges of "opportunism" are not enough to strip Schwartz of his strong lifelong connection to the genre and his influential boosterism of such music on modern radio. As an announcer, his functional authority is appropriate enough to serve as the source of a single poignant turn of phrase. SteveStrummer (talk) 20:08, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

I'm an announcer so thus I've declared him an opportunist. I've also declared myself an expert on Jonathan Schwartz.

That statement I made is ridiculous - and so is your reasoning for keeping him as part of this article. He ought be omitted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:05, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Just saying that does not make it so. The statement in the article is well-sourced, and Mr. Schwartz is clearly involved enough to offer an informed description of the genre. SteveStrummer (talk) 21:36, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Intro paragraph[edit]

The intro paragraph should make it clear that there is no actual publication called "The Great American Songbook." I always believed that it was an actual book, published and distributed by a publishing company. It's unlikely that I was the only person with this misunderstanding, so there should be a clear statement that it is not a real book. (talk) 05:44, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

OK, I've edited it to reflect that -- see if that helps. Softlavender (talk) 06:44, 7 December 2013 (UTC)


I just alphabetized Jimmy McHugh's songlist. Howzabout some of the frequent editors of this page alphabetize other songwriters' lists? For coherency's sake? Tapered (talk) 08:05, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Unless Wikipedia's core policy of NO ORIGINAL RESEARCH is a joke, this article should be axed[edit]

This month we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the {{Original research}} tag on this article. In those five years, the article has grown by almost 50% (from 19,401 bytes when OranL added that well-deserved tag in November 2009 to 28,089 bytes at this moment in November 2014), and it has two fewer cited references (down from five to three).

The original research in this article is growing rampantly, unchecked, and the OR tag is being flagrantly ignored. There might just as well be a huge flashing neon banner at the top of the article inviting editors to add all of their personal favorite songs, songwriters and singers. This is a very elaborate fan page; it is NOT an encyclopedia article.

Quoting from Wikipedia:Core content policies:

Wikipedia's content is governed by three principal core content policies: neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research. Editors should familiarize themselves with all three, jointly interpreted:

  1. Neutral point of view – All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing significant views fairly, proportionately and without bias.
  2. Verifiability – Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source. In Wikipedia, verifiability means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that information comes from a reliable source.
  3. No original research – Wikipedia does not publish original thought: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source. Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by the sources.

Unless the third of those core content policies is a joke, somebody with the authority to make it stick (like an administrator or someone even higher in the hierarchy here) needs to cut out about 99.99% of this article's content, because practically NONE of it is supported by reliable sources. Whether the unsupported content is true or not IS IRRELEVANT, unless Wikipedia's core content policy is a joke.

Five years is plenty of time to add a whole slew of reliable sources, but no one has bothered to do that. Instead, almost ten thousand more bytes of 100% pure original research have been added. It's way past time to do one of two things:

  1. Prune out of this article every word that is not supported by a reliable external source, or
  2. Remove No Original Research as one of Wikipedia's Core Content Policies.

-- (talk) 03:03, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

I'll raise a glass to the fifth anniversary of that tag! The problem remains that it is a very nebulous term, but citations exist, and I shall endeavour to find them. Gareth E Kegg (talk) 22:11, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
There is no reason or cause to axe the article, but I would agree that people are loading it up with their favorite songwriters. I wouldn't object to reverting the list of songwriters and songs back to what it was a year or two or more ago. It was pretty stable and reliable for a while -- even though each entry wasn't cited it was fairly defensible. I do agree that it's now overgrown, and that defeats the purpose. Perhaps we should just call the list "Major songwriters and songs", and trim the lesser, little-known songwriters. I think that would be the easiest solution. Softlavender (talk) 01:13, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
I remember reading this article and thinking to myself the whole time, "but what **IS** the great american songbook?" That's a terrible feeling to have when reading an article that is supposed to answer that question. It seems like the article is about something that doesn't actually exist, except as a category of music, and yet it is presented to the reader as a list that people have compiled and agree upon, which does not seem to be the case. — OranL (talk) 21:27, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
I completely agree. Should "This Land Is Your Land" be in the list? (I would hope so, but currently, it isn't listed here, and it wasn't "created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film".) How about the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree"? How about "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Born in the U.S.A."? Who decides what's part of the "Great American Songbook" and what isn't? Is there really a well-understood concept of a "Great American Songbook"? Is there also a "Great British Songbook" and a "Great Ethiopian Songbook"? Is this whole notion some fiction created by Michael Feinstein and the other founders and promoters of the Great American Songbook Foundation? If so, can we just merge this content into that article? —BarrelProof (talk) 02:17, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
It really does refer to songs that are now considered traditional pop music that pre-dated rock and roll. This is common parlance, so to speak, if you asked any musicologist. Gareth E Kegg (talk) 08:17, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Michael Feinstein did not create the GAS, nor did he invent the term. It's a well-known construct/category that dates back to the 1960s or before, and includes the best of the great standards from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway musicals and Hollywood musical films. It's really that simple. And no, "This Land Is Your Land", "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", "Sweet Home Alabama", and "Born in the U.S.A." are not part of it. And no, there is no "Great British Songbook" etc. because theatrical and film musicals did not flourish as significantly in Britain or have a golden age until Andrew Lloyd Webber, etc.; whereas American theater and film musicals definitely did have a golden age, particularly from European immigrants and their offspring and the Tin Pan Alley culture that nurtured them, from the 1920s to the 1950s. Softlavender (talk) 09:24, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
    Thank you both for the education, and for the improvements to the article. The article really does need some improvement to clarify all this, and that looks like a good start. —BarrelProof (talk) 12:47, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

It's my guess that the term is related to the "Music of Your Life" radio programing format that emerged in the 1970s and died, along with most of its listeners, in the 1990s (replaced at the time to some extent by the "Classic Rock" programing format.) Point is to capture a particular "demographic" for ratings and advertising sales.

So really, the term a marketing concept rather than anything legit. Badiacrushed (talk) 13:35, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

No, that's not correct at all. Softlavender (talk) 14:12, 5 December 2016 (UTC)