Wilfrid Sheed died. I just knew him from his novels. Mark Steyn reveals much more:
Well, you could do worse than go to The House That George Built. Sheed is very good on the impact fashion and technology have on music. If the gals are all wearing bustles, for example, you wouldn't write "The Charleston". As for technical innovation, intimate ballads blossomed with the spread of radio: it's hard to imagine anyone bellowing "No Moon at All" or "Cry Me a River" in an unmiked barn of a vaudeville theatre circa 1912. But it's equally hard to imagine anyone doing it in a rock video or live at a sports stadium on the edge of town.