Think of a progression of musical bigshots. Spare me the Biebers and Gagas and Eagles. I’m talking transformative, iconic persons. Perhaps I’m not qualified to offer an opinion on current musical affairs, or they’re so atomized the there’s no overarching person lately. I’ll start back a bit.
There were the Beatles. Before that was Elvis. Before that was Sinatra. Before that was Gershwin. Before that was opera, and the tubby Neapolitan. I think his musical shadow might have been bigger than all that followed.
You have to read about him to get the whole gist of him. Recording the voice was invented around him; it was all very low-fi, and time-constrained, you have to interpolate just how powerful and sweet his voice must have been. I feel like a poor street urchin with my ear pressed up to an opera house door when I listen to recordings of him. A world full of street urchins did, and the rattling of jewelry inside the houses never drowned him out.
Vesuvius erupted near Caruso’s hometown of Naples, and reporters went to San Francisco to ask Caruso about it. Then San Francisco rattled apart and burned to the ground, and the world asked: Is Caruso OK?