Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tony Schwartz, media pioneer

This will be the first of several posts, on Tony Schwartz (not to be confused with the "peak performance" expert with the same name). Schwartz was a pioneer in ambient sound recording. political advertising, and in communications in general. He was an agoraphobic, but lectured and taught classes all over the world remotely by telephone. He rarely left his home neighborhood (ZIP 10019) in Manhattan .Marshall McLuhan called him "the"guru of the electronic age".

Schwartz started recording the sounds of his neighborhood, and his home,starting in 1945. His recordings are a great slice of Americana, braodly portraying the life of his neighborhood. His projects included "A Dog's Life" - which documented the first year in the life of his dog., "The New York Taxi Driver" and various sound collages of life in his neighborhood.

You can hear sample clips and download the liner notes to some of Schwartz's recordings here.

Schwartz is best known for the"daisy commercial", from the 1964 Johnson presidential campaign. Although it's clear that Schwartz came up with the idea and did the audio for the commercial , it's unclear how much help he received with the final product, considered by many to be the best political commercial ever made. Even though it was only shown once, it received tremendous publicity, and helped clarify for many the deep unease they felt about Goldwater's candidacy.

I can't find a good embeddable copy of the" Daisy" video so here is a link to it from the LBJ library website.

There's a great website re the :"Daisy" commercial,which includes audio excerpts from the recording session

Schwartz made recordings of his niece Nancy for many years, then spliced them into a two minute collage of her first 12 years in the 1940's and 50's . As far as I know, he was the first to do something like this. (audio only)

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