Mickey Mice Better Beware!

Wed Dec 30, 2009

Hep-Schmaltz Era is Dawning!

NEW YORK, July 4—Now that hepster Harry James has hit the heavy dough by hiring a flock of fiddles and blowing trumpet solos strictly from the sugar mill, and now that hepster Tommy Dorsey, in the heavy dough to begin with, has added catgut and a harp besides, the band biz finds itself in the throes of a trend. Said trend is more than the removal from the relief rolls of several dozen previously impoverished fiddle scrapers—it is the dawn of the hep-schmaltz era, as contrasted to the ragtime days, the jazz age, the heyday of the crooner, and the era of swing, all trends and all now dead. (Billboard, 11 July 1942 [viewable at google books])

I found this delightful paragraph while trying to track down the cultural/etymological reference that would have led the author of a work on children’s literature to refer to Lord of the Rings as “schmaltz.” It was written during the “hep-schmaltz” era, after all, and I’m reasonably sure that Tolkien was a big fan of catgut and fiddle scrapers.