A good friend has recently turned Miss Mussel on to the genius of Carl W. Stalling – the man behind the music of Looney Tunes. Several hours have been lost in a Youtube black hole but it’s been worth it. People who are in the habit of commenting on these things often assert that pre-1960s, classical music was widely appreciated and heard far more often in day to day life. While this may be true (and Looney Tunes does bear out that fact) it was certainly no utopian ideal.
Snobbery is the delight of the middle class and even 75 years ago, the message that classical was refined, regal and European [18th-century dancing, pantaloons and wigs] while jazz was a pleasantly sleazy world of constant fun populated by jolly men with mini-mustaches and mischievious eyes. If Miss Mussel may pull out the lit crit guns for a second, there is even a moment where the jazz paradise gets all orientalist. That’s right. Ukulele = Other. For even more Other fun, check out the anti-Nazi propaganda films Stalling scored for Disney.
If we sidestep the deconstruction for a second, what we are left with is some truly excellent music. Often called the first post-modernist, Stalling was shameless in selecting his source material. The clarinet telescope and character voices are absolutely brilliant touches but the coup de grace for Miss Mussel is the battlefield mashup.
Have you got a favourite Stalling score? See if it’s on Youtube and embed it in the comments so we can all watch.
This one is just too cute to not post.