Stamping on Great American Music
Stamp collecting, by many accounts, has fallen out of favour. Indeed, my attempts recently to sell an inherited collection suggest that a lot is not worth much. But for us music geeks, value is not everything, so stamps celebrating sounds are still worth a look.
One of my close friends, a lover of Hispanicana, is getting excited about the release in May of a U.S. stamp dedicated to Lydia Mendoza, a Tejano/conjunto/Mexican-American singer who died in 2007. She was known as “La Alondra de la Frontera” or “The Lark of the Border”.
Shamefully, I had not heard of her until now – which I suppose is exactly why the USPS does this kind of thing. Bravo.
As my trawl though the aforementioned stamp collection showed, the Mendoza stamp is far from the first U.S. imprint celebrating music. I found three collections, which I hung on to.
The Robert Johnson stamp (above) comes from a September 1994 release called “The American Music Stamp Festival”.
It is primarily blues. Mine comprises Johnson, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf, Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey, Mildred Bailey, and Jimmy Rushing.
My covers from this series are franked in Greenville, Mississippi, centre for Delta blues and once on the so-called chitlin’ circuit.
Country fans, meanwhile, will love the “Country Music at the Grand Ole Opry” series that came out in September 1993. It comprises The Carter Family, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and Patsy Cline. Needless to say, it is franked in Nashville.
There was also a June 1993 “Rock & Roll, “Rythm & Blues” release – Richie Valens, Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter, Dinah Washington, Otis Redding, Buddy Holly and, of course, Elvis. They have a strange frank on them, but appear to have been from either Cleveland or Santa Monica.
Together they represent the rich fabric of American music. I can only wonder what we have at the moment that might join them in years to come.