Maybe you don't remember the Ink Spots. Ask your grandparents; they would. When your grandfather, only 24 years old in 1942, was proposing to your grandmother after receiving his draft notice earlier that day, "If I Didn't Care" was probably playing on the radio. The Ink Spots' harmonies gave rise to the doo-wop groups of the '50s like the Orioles and the Moonglows, who led to the proto-soul of the '60s the Drifters, the Four Tops and the Temptations, who...
You get the idea. With a little concentration you could continue sketching the evolutionary tree right up to hip-hop.
This casual Sunday night in 2007 might seem like just a run-of-the-mill diversion from life's humdrum. But it's more than that, because that 86-year-old guy on the bandstand, cigar in one hand and mic in the other, plays a role in our culture's mythical narrative. A piece of what brought us from there to here.
Of course, on the surface he's just a charming old-timer singing vaguely recognizable tunes that resonate with a faint tremble above the barroom din. But isn't that American history, too?