Tin Panhandling

Tin Pan Alley, the longtime NYC home of America’s songwriting industry, is up for sale. The New York Times wrote about efforts to save the historic block, using an interview with NYU Press author David Freeland. Below is a clip; read the whole article for more.

The way things worked then, said David Freeland, a music writer who devotes a section to Tin Pan Alley in a coming book, is that the companies, where songs were written, would compete to lure performers in to hear them played by house musicians called pluggers. The music companies had a symbiotic relationship with nearby theaters, along Broadway and Sixth Avenue, where the songs were performed, said Mr. Freeland, whose book, due out next year, is called Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure. At the time, he said, the theaters’ musicians needed material, and the song companies needed customers, so they grew together.

“I always feel that Tin Pan Alley was so brilliant because in turning out this product that was suitable for men, women and children of all kinds, it obscured the actual origins of the songs,” he said. “Part of the reason Tin Pan Alley survived so well is that it actually hid its own origins within a family-friendly veneer.”