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Chapter 5

[1] In January 1929, automobile executive Henry Ford stepped off the and onto the banks of Boa Vista, a district located along the Tapajós River. He was in the Brazilian state of Pará in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The , a 250 by 50-foot decommissioned World War I-era merchant vessel, departed the Rouge River, located south of Detroit, Michigan, on July 26, 1928. It carried not only Ford but several other company executives. It also transported a traveling hospital and operating room, a chemistry lab, refrigerators, laundry services, and a library. Ford and his colleagues aboard the were joined by another vessel, the , which held several large pieces of technology: a steam shovel, electric generators, road-building machinery, tractors, picks, shovels, a stone crusher, a diesel tug, prefabricated buildings, piles of steel, plumbing fixtures, railroad tracks. The list goes on. It was about a million dollars’ worth of infrastructure goods. Both vessels were headed to Boa Vista for the purpose of helping start a rubber-extraction factory for Ford Motor Company. The name of the plantation and the surrounding town was aptly named Fordlândia.

State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967,

[2] The creation of Fordlândia existed alongside other attempts by American corporations to set up factories and shops in South and Central America. For instance, the Boston-based United Fruit Company first opened plantations in countries like Honduras and Guatemala during the turn of the century.          Like the United Fruit Company, which imposed an American-based Jim Crow conception of race upon a multi-racial citizenry in Central America, Fordlândia’s operation within the Brazilian Amazon also brought rather destructive elements to the country. When the project first started in 1927, Ford thought of his work as not only economically profitable but also as a civilization mission. He built roads. He built cinemas that featured the latest Hollywood films. He held dances. He built an 18-hole golf course. He offered health and education services. He paid well. He did anything to get workers to come to Fordlândia. He not only tried to tame the jungle but also implemented a Taylorist-style regiment on the plantation with the intention of “civilizing” the mostly indigenous workers that worked for Ford. He served brown rice and whole-wheat bread much to the chagrin of his employees. When he changed the food service from wait-service to cafeteria-style, his workers rebelled. He tried to impose certain agriculture on the Amazon as well, hoping to grow rubber trees to circumvent the British monopoly on rubber. But rubber trees did not grow in the Amazon. Hundreds of Brazilians and American transplants lost their lives to the hazards of the jungle, trying to undertake an impossible task. Fordlândia had no reason to exist. By the 1940s, the community was all but abandoned. Some of the buildings still stand in Pará today, a haunting and sobering reminder of not only Ford’s hubris and desire to create a fantasyland but also America’s neocolonial enterprise.


[3] Fast forward thirty years. Echoes of the colonial fantasies that stoked Ford’s dreams of conquering Brazil’s landscape and people could still be heard in the suburbs of the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In many ways, the suburbanization of the United States and America’s imperialistic pursuits resemble each other. Both try to conquer the frontier, whether that frontier lies West of the Mississippi, in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, or the undeveloped land east of Manhattan. Both movements embody an anti-urban perception as colonizers and suburbanites move away from the metropole, whether that metropole is London or Chicago. Both pillage natural resources, whether in the depths of the Amazon or the prairies of the Midwest. Finally, both colonies and suburbs constitute their own socially and politically separate entities, focused on a desire to keep ahold of their local affairs. Little wonder then, that Kenneth T. Jackson, writing one of the first comprehensive accounts on the rise of the American suburb, called suburbia the “crabgrass frontier.”


[4] Yet, the technologies by which Ford embarked on his imperial mission differed from those used by American suburbanites. Recall the equipment on the (Or the use of the itself.) Railroads, factories, steel, rubber extraction, and golf courses all helped Ford play out his colonial project. American suburbanites embraced different technologies, however. They listened to bossa nova music recorded in high fidelity and stereophonic sound. They purchased frozen foods and “bossa nova”-related household goods. They hosted bossa nova dance parties. None of these resemble the technologies wielded for Ford’s colonial expansion. Yet, they nevertheless served similar purposes.

[5] Such postwar fantasies of foreign conquest coincided with attempts within the American education system to understand and interact with foreign peoples. Area Studies” developed in American universities at this time as well. During World War II, most scholars did not focus on Latin America. Those that did primarily focused on Mexico or other neighboring countries. However, in 1958, just one year after the Soviet Union sent Sputnik into space, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act. The act was, in part, meant to increase the United States’ technological prowess and counter Soviet advancements. The act’s Title VI also stipulated more funding for language and cultural studies. As a result, by the 1960s, University of Texas, Stanford, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Vanderbilt began to hire specialists in Brazilian politics and culture.


[6] Americans could engage with the outside world at university, or they could purchase consumer goods and engage with various modes of technology and mediation that brought the foreign cultures straight to their homes.          Magazines offered such an outlet. During the twentieth century, Americans turned to magazines like and read maps produced by Rand McNally to engage with the outside world. Organizations like the National Geographic Society made concerted efforts to work within American schools and universities to derive curriculum that reflected the spirit of American expansionism and challenged nineteenth-century ideas about isolationism.          Amidst the Cold War, several stories in and strove to educate Americans about their connections to the rest of the world.          Household decorations also played a role in bringing foreign cultures to American living rooms as Progressive Era Americans adorned their homes with cultural artifacts like exotic curios, chinaware, and rugs.          Magazines and household décor comprised just some of the many consumer goods that allowed Americans to engage with foreign people and foreign lands.


[7] Beginning in the 1960s, bossa nova brought larger ideas about Brazil and South America straight to the American suburbs as well. The music industry, in essence, functioned as amateur map makers, disseminating ideas about Brazil through transnational media industries.          They sold bossa nova so that Americans could imagine the world in particular ways.          This did not mean consumers always responded how the industry wanted. For instance, advertisements between the 1920s and 1940s rarely offered a mirror of social life but instead represented what upper-class ad men perceived were the aspirations of consumers. Therefore, the extent to which such suburbanites did what these advertisements encouraged them to do, think, or imagine is difficult to say.          Nevertheless, an analysis of the culture industry that suburban Americans consumed (or were meant to consume) highlights how bossa nova offered suburbanites opportunities to participate in three specific parallel technologies of colonialism. The music industry was not selling Americans the opportunity to board a marine vessel to explore and conquer foreign lands. Instead, it sold high fidelity records, the bossa nova dance and dinner party, and opportunities to hear background music in stores. These three technologies allowed American suburbanites the opportunity to embrace postwar cosmopolitan lifestyles. They also allowed consumers to engage in technological mastery and to visit a pre-modern Brazil, either as something to be conquered or enjoyed. Advertisers created mental maps in consumers’ heads: fantasies about exploration and exploitation.          An analysis of bossa nova within suburban communities thus offers a snapshot of the cultural ideals that the suburban––colonist were encountering in their everyday lives as they physically built homes on – and lived in – colonized lands within the United States.

Greg Grandin’s Fordlândia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2009) details the history discussed in the next several paragraphs. Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennett provide a supplemental story in Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1995). Kristin L. Hoganson and Jay Sexton’s edited collection, Crossing Empires: Taking U.S. History into Transimperial Terrain (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020), offer similar evidence, revealing how the United States worked with other Empires (like the British) from the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth to consolidate their global power.

James M. Colby, The Business of Empire: United Fruit, Race, and U.S. Expansion in Central America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).

Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1987).

Philip J. Delora and I. Alexander Olson’s overview of the field of American Studies in American Studies: A User’s Guide (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2017). Marshall C. Eakin and Paulo Roberto de Almeida’s edited collection, Envisioning Brazil: A Guide to Brazilian Studies in the United States (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005) gives more focus to Latin American Studies. Robert M. Levine provides a comprehensive overview of the type of research that scholars of Latin America and Brazil conducted over the twentieth century in “Research on Brazil in the United States.” Paulo Roberto de Almeida’s “Trends, Perspectives, and Prospects” offers a similar overview. Theodore Robert Young discusses the state of Brazilian and Lusophone studies in the twenty-first century in “Teaching Brazil in U.S. Universities” from the same edited collection. José Neisten’s “Arts and Music” offers an overview of scholarship on Brazilian music and culture. Afro-Brazilian music features prominently in such scholarship of the twentieth century. David E. Vassberg’s “African Influences on the Music of Brazil,” Luso-Brazilian Review 13, no. 1 (Summer 1976): 35-54 provides an example.

Kristin L. Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

Susan Schulten writes about how these maps and magazines helped formulate Americans’ visions of the world –what she calls its “geographical imagination” – that served geopolitical and commercial ends during the first half of the twentieth century (The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880–1950 [Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001]. Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins make similar arguments in Reading National Geographic (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–1961 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003).

Mari Yoshihara, Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003).

K.E. Goldschmitt, Bossa Mundo: Brazilian Music in Transnational Media Industries (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019).

Catherine Tatiana Dunlop, Cartophilia: Maps and the Search for Identity in the French-German Borderland (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Roland Marchand, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985).

Individuals do not have to construct physical maps. They can also construct worldviews in their head, undertaking what Ti-Fu Tuan calls “mind maps” and Edward Said calls “imaginative geographies” (“Images and Mental Maps,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 65, no. 2 [1975]: 205–13 and Orientalism [New York, NY: Pantheon, 1978], respectively). Aiyaz Husain takes the term “mind maps” to show how the governments of England and United States conceived of the world in different ways – the former as “regionalists;” the latter as “globalists” – in the aftermath of World War II (Aiyaz Husain, Mapping the End of Empire: American and British Strategic Visions in the Postwar World [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014]).


When Bossa Interacted with Technology: Consuming Imperialist Fantasies via Stereophonic Sound, Interior Decor, and Storecasting

“AF: Great Savings on Audio Fidelity Records,” Audio, February 1963, 53.

“New Record Entertainment,” Audio, October 1963, 53.

High Fidelity, Stereophonic Sound, and Authenticity and Fantasy

[8] The high-fidelity (hi-fi) record served as one of the technologies that allowed Americans to consume exotic experiences. Emory Cook, audio engineer and founder of Cook Records, recorded some of the first albums that were marketed and appealed to future hi-fi enthusiasts. Cook admired the anthropologist Melville Herskovitz, whose 1941 book, Myth of the Negro Past, argued that African Americans had not lost their African culture due to their experience of slavery but had in fact retained aspects of it in their music, art, social structure, family life, religion, and speech patterns. Cook strove to record several “cultural pasts” and traveled domestically and abroad to take field recordings of American blues music, Yemeni and Cuban religious rituals, Japanese koto, and Caribbean steel pan music. To do so, he equipped himself with a Telefunken U-47, a new omnidirectional microphone. This microphone differed from the commonly used directional ribbon microphones by its ability to capture sound from all directions. Just like Alan Lomax’s famous field recordings, Cook Records’ Grenada Stories and Songs and Mariachi Music of Mexico documented the cultures of the world during the late 1950s so that high fidelity enthusiasts could experience them without ever leaving their living rooms.


[9] Just like Cook Records began to do twenty years prior, Audio Fidelity’s hi-fi bossa nova albums promised to give listeners windows into a distant and foreign lands. It was allegedly an authentic introduction to Brazilian culture and music. Advertisements in hi-fi magazines claimed that Juca Mestre’s Panorama Musical do Brasil and Oscar Castro-Neves’ Big Band Bossa Nova were “authentic performances” recorded in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.          Audio Fidelity’s album, Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall, appealed to the same interest but in a different manner. Instead of going to Brazil to record, Sidney Frey – founder of Audio Fidelity – brought bossa nova propagators like João Gilberto, Luiz Bonfá and Oscar Castro-Neves to New York for a recorded concert that took place in December 1962. The advertisement for the album stated, “all the great Brazilian talent gathered at Carnegie Hall to treat the U.S. to the first live performance of authentic bossa nova, the sensational new Brazilian jazz form."         Bertram Stanleigh, writing for Audio, thought of the album as a type of field recording that captured a place. He wrote that the quality of this album “documents an event” and at least a portion of its interest is in the “noises made by the audience."          Just like Emory Cook’s field recordings, Audio Fidelity’s bossa nova releases captured the sounds of specific, authentic, places.

[10] Musicians and record labels also recorded bossa nova albums in a way that harnessed technological developments in stereophonic sound; in this way the music itself helped transport listeners outside of their living rooms and to a foreign fantasy land. Prior to 1958, stereophonic albums represented only six percent of the total dollar record volume. In other words, ninety-four percent of the money spent on record albums in the United States purchased disks recorded in monaural sound – a way that that ensured that if one of your headphone speakers shorted out, you could nevertheless still experience the Toscanini RCA Symphony (let’s say) in its entirety because engineers sent the same audio signal to each channel. Despite the benefits that monoaural sound could provide, it did not necessarily capture the live experience of hearing that Toscanini Symphony because the audio would not reproduce the spatial representation of the orchestra (i.e., hearing bassists stage left, violins stage right, etc.).          But in 1957 Sidney Frey, founder of Audio Fidelity records, collaborated with Western Electric to help fix that issue and produce an affordable stereophonic record. Although no commercial phonograph player could reproduce stereophonic sound at the time, Audio Fidelity nevertheless released their album to the market. Fairchild Recording Equipment Co. instantly began to manufacture a stereophonic cartridge with which to play these new Audio Fidelity releases. Record labels and recording equipment companies followed suit and began to release their own stereophonic albums and cartridges. 


[11] Although Audio Fidelity helped to make stereophonic sound affordable, American consumers did not immediately see a need to switch from their monoaural systems to stereophonic ones; Enoch Light’s Command Records helped convert the public. Many of the early stereophonic albums recorded between 1958 and 1960 were “demonstration disks” used to show the capabilities of stereophonic sound by recording the sounds of airplanes, trains, or thunderstorms. Light decided he would make a compelling stereophonic recording of popular music. He recorded Persuasive Percussion in 1959 and released it to wide acclaim. The album made use of stereophonic sound by using the left and right audio channels to create a dialogue between various instruments. For example, the album opens with a call from the bongos in the right track followed by a response by the bongos in the left track. Light personally took 150 copies of his record to a convention of high-fidelity audio companies held in New York City and handed them out to the exhibitors selling their latest systems, speakers, and cartridges. The next day it became the new “demonstration disk” as all the exhibitors swapped out their albums of train sounds for Persuasive Percussion. Billboard magazine later credited it as the most important record of 1960.

[12] In time, stereophonic sound became one of the defining features of exotica music, a style of music that tried to produce and capture a foreign, distant past. Although record labels originally intended stereophonic sound to help recreate the real-life experience of sitting in a concert hall and hearing the spatial representation of a classical orchestra, by the 1960s stereophonic sound allowed listeners to escape into an aural soundscape.          Exotica was a style that offered a similar sublime experience. In many ways, it resembled the high-fidelity field recordings that Cook took. Both were trying to capture the sound of a specific locale.          However, exotica often captured an imagined, fanciful place that allowed listeners to derive pleasure from hearing a deracialized, sonic other.          It produced the sounds of birds flying from right to left channels, endless patterns of waves breaking, tramcars passing rapidly on the street, and reverberant gongs. Reverb specifically played an important role in such music. “Hawaiian” and cowboy music of the 1930s and 1940s and rock and roll of the 1950s often incorporated artificial reverb to present a type of sonic pictorialism.          The music of exotica composers like Juan García Esquivel often merged this reverb with trills, glissandi, gauzy timbres, and coloristic harmonies to create seductive and fanciful music.


[13] Such sounds often exaggerated the type of field recordings Cook took and made famous. Prominent exotica artists like Les Baxter and Martin Denny began to record exotica albums in the early- and mid-1950s before the widespread use of stereophonic sound. However, Denny’s Exotica II, from 1957, was one of the first to feature this new development. The technique meshed perfectly with the exoticized and foreign sound Denny was trying to produce in songs like “Island of Dreams,” “Singing Bamboos,” and “Japanese Farewell Song.” All these song titles attest to Denny’s interest in capturing an exotic quasi-East Asia and Orient, full of bird calls, shakers, bongos, and congas.          Other lesser-known exotica artists like Stanley Black, Irv Cottler, and George Cates followed suit in the early 1960s and began to use stereophonic recording more regularly. Their albums like Exotic Percussion, Around the World in Percussion, and Polynesian Percussion used stereophonic effects to convey the exotic, Polynesia, and traveling around the world.          The sound and affect proved popular amongst Americans. Enoch Light capitalized on the success of his exotica-tinged album Persuasive Percussion and released a sequel, Provocative Percussion, one year later. Cumulatively, they sold around 800,000 copies in two years.


[14] Several musicians and record labels recording bossa nova similarly utilized an expanded instrumentation to take full advantage of stereophonic sound’s capabilities. When Light decided to record bossa nova music, he hired three percussionists for his Big Band Bossa Nova session: Phil Kraus, Bobby Rosengarden, and Ed Shaughnessy. Likewise, Dauntless Records, a subsidiary of Audio Fidelity, released Desafinado, an album by the Orchestra Saxsambistas Brasileiros whose instrumentation not only consisted of an uncharacteristically large seven-person rhythm section but also an astonishing woodwind section of ten (!) saxophonists. When Oscar Castro-Neves recorded his album Big Band Bossa Nova for Audio Fidelity in March 1962 in Rio de Janeiro, he featured not only Roberto Pontes-Dias on drums but additionally Wilson das Neves on cabaça, Chico Feitosa on ganzá, and Gilson Vieira da Silva on pandeiro.

[15] Stan Getz’s Jazz Samba demonstrates the effect advertisers were hoping stereophonic sound could have on bossa nova listeners. Like several other stereophonic albums, Jazz Samba relied on an expanded instrumentation to harness the possibilities of stereophonic sound. Verve Records hired a guitar section that featured Charlie Byrd as well as his brother Gene while the percussion section consisted of Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach, Sr. Verve’s engineer Ed Greene did not exactly mix Gene and Charlie’s guitar in the dramatic way found in exotica albums such as Persuasive Percussion. However, both guitarists’ presence on Jazz Samba achieves a similar result. The album contains Charlie’s acoustic guitar primarily in the right channel while placing Stan Getz’s tenor saxophone in the left channel. Gene’s electric guitar sounds faintly in the background somewhere equally between both left and right channels. Greene’s engineering created a tamer stereo effect compared to Light’s Command records – but a stereo effect, nevertheless. The combination of bossa nova and stereophonic recording offered multiple outlets for listeners to imagine themselves someplace else. A newspaper advertisement for Jazz Samba captured this idea perfectly. It claimed that by listening to this album, “a jaunt to Rio’s sunny beaches and festive night spots is just an album away."          In large part due to the expanded instrumentation and recording techniques, some bossa nova albums conflated the real and imaginary as the living room momentarily transformed itself into a beautiful setting in Rio de Janeiro.


[16] Like Jazz Samba, Dizzy Gillespie’s Dizzy on the French Riviera demonstrates how recording engineers utilized stereophonic sound to help place listeners in a different space. The album, which Gillespie recorded live in Juan-Les-Pins, France, begins with the stereophonic sounds of bathers enjoying themselves on the French Riviera. The sounds of laughter and crashing waves abound. After twenty seconds, the sounds of the beach fade out. In its place emerges a bossa nova pattern played by drummer Rudy Collins. He is also accompanied by percussionist Pepito Riestra who plays the cuíca, a Brazilian friction drum with origins in Africa, and a shaker. Together, they set up the first track on the album, “Chega de saudade.” Like several other bossa nova albums with multiple percussionists, the Phillips Records engineer panned the percussion to the left and right channels. While the incorporation of the field recording of the beach made the listener feel as if they were on the French Riviera, the stereophonic percussion also immersed the listener and conjured images of Brazil, the rainforest, and even Africa.

[17] The worlds these bossa nova albums tried to aurally depict are best understood by reading their liner notes.          Oftentimes these albums strove to conjure up anti-modernist and exoticized views of Brazil. Throughout the twentieth century, American authors and journalists compared the United States’ modernity or underdevelopment to their neighbors to the south. While at times Americans understood “underdevelopment” in Cuba as similar to the “underdevelopment” of the slums of New York City and Chicago (or the modernity of Cuba, for instance, as equal to the modernity of New York City and Chicago), other times authors contrasted Latin America with the United States: one was more or less developed than the other.          The advertisements for Brazilian coffee that reached the United States during the 1920s depicted a moment when Americans understood Brazilians as semicivilized, Latin “others.” Yet, at the same time, Americans drank and enjoyed coffee to engage in the dark pleasures of colonial exoticism.          Such depictions existed even though Brazilians participated in a vibrant, modernized consumer culture during the twentieth century. They took advantage of supermarkets like Peg-Pag. They purchased radio and television sets. They worked at domestic plants for companies like Walita and Aero where they produced blenders and automobiles.          However, an analysis of bossa nova advertisements shows that Americans nevertheless understood Brazil as a rather pre-modern place.


[18] For instance, although Brazilians such as Antônio Carlos Jobim hoped that bossa nova music would help change Americans’ understanding of Brazil as an agricultural and coffee-producing nation, coffee and bossa nova were nevertheless joined in the minds of Americans listening to stereophonic bossa nova albums. Not only did the Brazilian Coffee Institute, for instance, help send Brazilian musicians to play at Carnegie Hall, but as an article in Billboard at the end of 1962 stated, “it is possible that by year’s end more bossa nova will be produced in this country than bags of coffee."          Columbia Records similarly created two separate advertisements for Paul Winter’s stereophonic album, Jazz Meets the Bossa Nova, that capitalized on ­– and perpetuated ­– exoticized, coffee-filled understandings of Brazil. In one advertisement, they promoted the album next to a full-page illustration of a bottle of rum (maybe cachaça, Brazil’s national alcohol?), a beating sun, and flowers.          In another, they capitalized more on Brazil’s status as a coffee exporter. The advertisement featured a photo of a burlap sack, but instead of containing coffee beans, it contained copies of Winter’s LP. The liner notes to Phil Bodner’s stereophonic bossa nova albums help explain the appeal of such characterizations. While his album, Quiet Nights, combined “that infectious bossa nova rhythm – easily the most stimulating import from Brazil since coffee – with some strictly made U.S. sounds,” his album The Soul of Brazil states that songs such as “Meditação” offer a “perfect antidote to modern-day stress.” In several ways, these albums offer more evidence of an anti-modernist fascination that began to emerge in the middle- to late-nineteenth century. As Americans increasingly lived in a society undergoing rapid urban-industrial transformation, secularization, and extreme environmental change, individuals like writer John Ruskin created a new movement of artisans skilled in Arts and Crafts. Others, like Teddy Roosevelt, promoted a “back to the earth” sensibility based on militarism and masculinity.          Consequently, a do-it-yourself culture materialized during the twentieth century.          A home improvement industry developed.        Yet, at the same time, men specifically combined this rugged ethic with technological mastery.          They began to tinker with radios during the 1920s and 1930s.          They purchased hi-fi stereo receivers.          Such technological interest continued into the 1960s as well. But it was just not men that listened to bossa nova. Copious amounts of bossa nova recordings momentarily promised all Americans anti-modernist escapes via, rather contradictorily, hi-fi, modern music recorded in stereophonic sound.

[5] Richard Harris, Building a Market: The Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1914-1960 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

[19] Gene Ammons’ Bad! Bossa Nova offers one of the more fanciful and inventive liner notes. The album presents the liner notes like a travelogue or travel diary. The traveler begins their excursion on a steamer in New Orleans where they heard the band play “Pagan Love Song,” (track 1 on the album) while sitting next to a “native chick.” When the traveler arrives in Colombia, he hears a deep rhythmic chant that forms the basis for “Ca’ Purange.” Ultimately the traveler “makes it down to São Paulo to get into the bossa nova scene” and comes across a “hip old cat” who tells the story of a time when Brazil was “all thick heavy jungle.” Before São Paulo became a modern industrial city, the story goes, a man had imported a tribe of destroyer ants, cross-bread them with a local variety of different ants, and raised approximately five million ants in a matter of months. This man also had a rival who imported an elephant from India with the intention of stomping all the ants into the ground. One day the ant-breeder let all his ants free to eat up the brush, vines, trees, and whatever else was in their way. The elephant-importer then released his elephant, but “the ants couldn’t be stopped naturally, they ate a wide deep swath into that old deep jungle.” The travel writer admitted that “we never get to what happened to the ants, but they sure left their mark on Brazil. The path they cut thru [sic] the jungle has since filled with deep dark murky water, and they say that the ants were the ancestors of the piranha fish, in any case the river is now called the Amazon.” Ammons’ liner notes do not just encourage the listener to imagine a pre-modern Brazil. Instead, Ammons goes even further back in time, offering listeners a fanciful origin story the country.

[20] Another record that took advantage of stereophonic sound, Walter Wanderley’s Quarteto Bossamba, convincingly explained the “benefits” of such characterizations of Brazil as pre-modern. The notes’ author, writing in 1967, reserved some choice words for the Castelo Branco dictatorship that had taken over the country in 1964: “Ignoring the crammed and smoggy cities,” the author wrote, “the millions of television sets, or the violent economic and political clashes that characterize present-day Brazil, the listener finds himself in a colorful daydream of happy villagers picking coffee beans in a plush tropical setting with a constant chua-chuga samba beat in the background.” The album thus served as a “musical travel poster” that aurally enveloped the listener in a “world of Brazil that probably never existed."          Albums like Wanderley’s Quarteto Bossamba offer some respite from the real world. But the music does not engage productively with the Branco regime like artists like Nara Leão or some American civil rights activists might have preferred. Instead, it counters the contemporary moment by offering listeners to experience a pre-modern soundscape. On “Canto de Ossanha,” the engineer creatively pans Claudio Slon’s tom drums to the right and left channels, creating a dialogue that resembles Enoch Light’s technique on Persuasive Percussion. Together, the fantastical audio and accompanying liner notes encourage listeners to visit a Brazil full of villagers and coffee beans.


[21Cover art to stereophonic bossa nova albums also encouraged hi-fi listeners to imagine a pre-modern Brazil. The most overt was Tommy Garrett’s In a Brazilian Mood: The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett, an album that featured a depiction of rainforest-foliage on the cover. The liner notes never explained what the “fifty guitars” alluded to but it could have been in reference to the use of 50 different guitar tracks over the course of the album’s 12 songs. While record labels usually relied on multiple percussionists to give their bossa nova albums a rather exoticized quality, several other albums relied on multiple guitarists. Oscar Castro-Neves’ Big Band Bossa Nova not only incorporated multiple percussionists, but Henry Percy Wilcox played guitar alongside Castro-Neves. Critics ensured that the effect of multiple guitarists was not lost on listeners. Charles Robertson noted in his review of Charlie Rouse’s Bossa Nova Bacchanal that “stereo harnesses choice teamwork from guitarists Kenny Burrell and Lord Westbrook."          In Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfá’s Jazz Samba Encore, Robertson noted “four-track stereo tape does full justice to Getz's beautiful tone and the listener gains a choice seat between unamplified guitars [played by Bonfá and Jobim] at ringside.” By 1964, Command Records even began to record with three guitarists to capitalize on their new Dimension 3 Process recording technique. Their dance album, Discotheque, featured Tony Matolla, Al Casamente, and Bucky Pizzarelli all playing guitar on an album that brought the sound of bossa nova to the American home.


[22Guitarist Charlie Byrd and Riverside Records similarly often merged bossa nova music with rural and exotic imagery. Specifically, they were fascinated with parrots. The animal not only graced the album covers of several of Byrd’s bossa nova albums but also served as the backdrop to some of his live televised performances, such as when he played on Vic Damone’s show, The Lively Ones, on August 1, 1963. Albums like Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (translated into English as “bossa nova by/via birds”) relied on a rather mild stereophonic sound that panned percussion to the right track, bass to the left, and guitars and strings somewhere in the middle. This recording technique helped Byrd “evoke [the] tropic charm” that critic Edwin Miller heard in albums such Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros.          But that cover art, which features several exotic birds perched on a microphone stand, evoked tropic charm as well.

The Bossa Nova Dance Party 

[23While the music industry was selling Americans opportunities to listen to bossa nova in stereophonic sound (and read liner notes and view album art), they also sold opportunities to embody Brazilian culture and dance the bossa nova as well. In 1965, Seeburg, a famous jukebox and vending machine manufacturer, released a discotheque kit that brought the fun of dancing the bossa nova straight to the American suburban home. “Are you tired of the tranquil Saturday night route of beer, barbecue, and babysitting,” the advertisement for the kit asked. “Do you long for big city fun? Stay right where you are! The music industry is trying to fight those outlying pockets of passivism.” The discotheque kit came complete with its own speaker system, special recordings, fluorescent signs, portable dance floors, black lights, and cocktail napkins. It even included a cookbook, a guide to Latin slang (so readers could understand the translation of “bossa nova”), and dancing instructions to all the latest dance crazes, bossa nova included.


[24Discotheques developed primarily in France during the 1940s as places where visitors could listen to – and dance to – jazz records. Dance halls had long existed in France and around the world; however, discotheques were unique in that disc jockeys played recorded music for dancers. A live band was nowhere in sight.          Ever since the 1920s, Americans had their own locations where they could dance to recorded music. But these locations – mostly taverns and juke joints – typically catered to America’s white and black working-class.          In contrast, French discotheques such as the Epi Club in the bohemian Montparnasse district or La Bada Club, located off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, hired disc jockeys to play records on turntables for mostly white upper-class clientele. In 1962, the French nightclub promotor and entrepreneur Oliver Coquelin opened one of the first discotheques, Le Club, in the United States. By 1965, the New York Times had counted fifteen discotheques in New York City alone. Countless others existed in urban areas across the United States.

[25] Thanks to companies like Seeburg, as well as several record labels, Americans could dance the bossa nova in the comfort of their suburban home: no need to travel to the big city or Europe. Command Records’ Discotheque offers an example of such service. The stereophonic album contained music in a bossa nova beat alongside other danceable tracks that showcased the frug, watusi, and merengue. Command’s follow up album, Discotheque Vol. 2, likewise claimed “a night club … is not the only place where darkness and a small dance floor can be found. These two elements can be located practically anywhere … at home or at any local gathering place."          In a similar marketing technique, Mercury Records sold David Carroll’s House-Party Discotheque with the promise that Carroll’s big band “can turn any living room into a discotheque for the night."          Thanks to Seeburg, Command, and Mercury Records, suburban Americans rarely needed to leave their suburbs to experience the discotheque or dance the cha-cha-chá, merengue, or bossa nova.


[26Such discotheque records existed alongside a larger trend within the American entertainment industry to fabricate a new bossa nova dance craze. Those who purchased Colpix Record's New Beat Bossa Nova Means the Samba Swings received a free dance class at any one of Fred Astaire's dance studios across the country. Record Labels like Canadian American and Dauntless Records likewise released albums such as Bossa Nova for All Ages and Desafinado whose liner notes contained a visual diagram of how to dance the bossa nova. For those that did not understand the diagram, the Albert Butler School for Dancing “endorsed” Desafinado and used it as the album by which they instructed their own dancing teachers nationwide. And albums with titles such as Dance the Bossa Nova, Designed for Dancing, Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann, Everybody’s Doing the Bossa Nova, and Let’s Dance the Bossa Nova all testified to the popularity of the newest dance steps.


[27] Unlike the bossa nova drumming pattern, nobody really codified these new bossa nova dance steps. However, most commentators agreed that whatever it was, teenagers were doing it wrong by mixing the dance with the twist. Murray the K, the famous rock and roll impresario and DJ, gave a reason why during an interview in late 1962. The bossa nova “is not going to be anything like the twist,” he told CBS Eyewitness. “Teenagers so far have just not taken to it at all. They may buy a record if they like the bossa nova beat or the bossa nova sound, but so far it doesn’t look like they’ve taken to the dance at all."          Another DJ made a similar claim. “It confuses the kids, most of whom try to dance it with a sort of modified twist," he commented.          Despite their dismissiveness, it appeared that the bossa nova dance was in fact a modified twist. Elvis Presley’s dancing on “Bossa Nova Baby” from the 1963 film, Fun in Acapulco, suggests this. During the film, Presley dances the bossa nova by moving his feet up and down and rotating his hips back and forth. The bossa nova dance also included some rather rhythmic motions. On beat 1, dancers in the film moved their right foot across their left and stomped. Then, on beats 2 and 4 of the next measure, the dancers moved their left foot across their right and stomped. Another possibility seemed to be dancing the bossa nova by mimicking the steps of the Brazilian samba or replicating what Carmen Miranda did in films like Springtime in the Rockies or Something for the Boys. Although Americans had no set guide, they could not ask Brazilians themselves. They had never heard of such a thing as dancing along to bossa nova.

[28] Despite claims that teenagers did not dance the bossa nova, several seemingly took to it. Don Page, writing in the Los Angeles Times, spoke about changing teen taste when he noted that he came across a teen who did not listen to KFWB, a station specializing in rock and roll. Instead, the teenager was instead listening to KFAC, a classical station.          “The gig is anything that's cool, man. Good rock 'n' roll is cool, the bossa nova is cool and Beethoven is cool,” the teen reported to Page.          Pianist Sérgio Mendes and John L. Scott at New York Times thought teenagers were simply beginning to take to styles like bossa nova to “look for some relief from the monotonous, bang-bang beat of hard rock."           Evidence from newspaper reports shows that bossa nova appealed to teenagers as much as their parents. Freshmen at Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia started a “bossa novas” club.          At Bryant Elementary school, also in Georgia, the Creative Dance Group gave a recital on April 8, 1963 that featured ballet, “Hawaiian,” “Chinese,” “Scottish,” and bossa nova dancing.          The Philadelphia Tribune reported that it was “bossa nova” time at a high school dance in Philadelphia.          Given the interest of teenagers’ of all races and classes for contemporary rhythm and blues, rock, and soul, several record labels and artists simply released music that Jack Maher at Billboard called “teen-oriented acts,” who released “teenage hits” for the “teenage audience."              Examples included “Our Day Will Come” by the soul group Ruby and the Romantics,” “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” by Eydie Gormé, and Elvis Presley’s “Bossa Nova Baby,” written by the famous songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who were synonymous with such “teenage hits.”


[29] Throughout the 1960s, several magazines and newspaper columns geared towards women often recommended that housewives play bossa nova to accompany elaborately and thematically decorated dinner parties. In an example of Brazilian enterprise promoting bossa nova abroad, the Brazilian Coffee Institute published advertisements in Seventeen magazine throughout 1964 and 1965. The institute recommended readers of Seventeen, who were mostly teenage girls, plan a “gay Brazilian coffee house party.” The advertisement included recipes for frosted mocha drinks, cafezinho (a Brazilian demitasse), and Brazilian barbeque. The advertisement also offered ideas for how to decorate the house for such parties and encouraged hosts to construct paper doll cutouts to hang in walls, doorways, and on drapes. It also recommended hosts play “bossa nova,” which “can set the perfect note for background music.” The “bossa nova, as you may know,” the advertisement copy continued, “was born in Brazil. By combining the rhythm of the samba with cool jazz, it makes the ideal background for poetry reading, dancing, bongos, or just a plain gab, or food-fest."          In another example, Sybil Leek, who wrote the horoscopes for Ladies’ Home Journal, recommended in 1967 that Aries hosting parties that month play “bright bossa nova music, with perhaps a dash of Ravel for the more classical-minded."          In a final demonstration of advertisements marketing bossa nova to party planners, Patio frozen dinners asked newspaper readers in 1967 “what does it take to be a great Mexican cook?” The advertisement copy answered: “it takes not only one of Patio’s frozen Mexican dinners,” but also a “woman with a zest for living,” some “inexpensive papier-mâché candlesticks,” and “bossa nova music on the hi-fi.” The combination of food, décor, and music, the advertisement continued, would transform the household into “the gayest place north of Acapulco."          A long report on the social life of the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. even noted how Marquesa Mercedes, wife of the Spanish ambassador, included bossa nova music as part of her prandial entertainment. In all these instances, magazines and newspapers encouraged women hosts to make their parties livelier by playing bossa nova for their guests.

[30] Americans could also purchase corresponding “bossa nova”-related clothing for their parties. The Broadway department store, with locations downtown and all around the Los Angeles area, advertised a new line of hats using the term. The copy stated: “the bossa nova, a ‘new feeling’… interpreted by Sally Victor in her exciting muchacho brims … very Latin, very chic!"          Bullock’s Store for Men, also located in downtown and suburbs across Los Angeles, advertised a tie by Cervantes by stating: “bossa nova … the new beat is right up from where it belongs, under your continental spread collar on the harmonizing Fiari shirt.”


[31] Several fashion writers in 1963 suggested that those who purchased certain items would be perfectly equipped to dance the bossa nova. The Los Angeles Times promoted the clothing of Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor and an American socialite, who wore a “danceable dress” that “squared daringly low in back” and was “set to swing into motion at even the thought of a bossa nova beat.” Similarly, Vi Weber’s fashion column in the Los Angeles Times promoted a Dacron and cotton blend formal jacket for men that would “stay smooth and unrumpled through any bossa nova.” An advertisement from 1963 for Creations ‘n Things (located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side) asked if customers danced the watusi, waltz, mambo, monkey, fox trot, or bossa nova. If they did, their store offered a suitable array of “bewitching tops, enchanting skirts, [and] beautiful dresses by new young designers” in which to dance. Creations ‘n Things also offered a “bossa nova sweater” for men, which encouraged those who put it on to “get in step with the newest [dance craze].” Tip-top, a company that made headbands, released a bow for women who “swings a mean bossa nova.” In an advertisement that conflated the bossa nova with the twist, another dance craze, M.C. Schrank Co. promoted a “bossa nova fringed shift dress” that would give women hosting pajama parties a “new twist.” Included above their copy was a full-page color photo of four women dancing the twist, one of whom was wearing a “bossa nova shift.” In all these instances, advertisers helped manufacture a bossa nova dance craze to encourage a customer to purchase their clothing.

[32] Even domestic goods like the “bossa nova juniper plant” or “bossa nova rugs” promised consumers a dance-filled experience upon purchase. However, Penney’s Department Store did not explicitly intend for customers to dance the bossa nova on top of their new “bossa nova rug.” Instead, advertisements throughout the 1960s claimed the rug contained “rhythm ‘n’ color” and featured “abstract-design-rhythms” and “color rhythms.” All these descriptions gave the product a lively quality. The advertisements essentially suggested that the rug itself, thanks to its “rhythm,” could dance on the floor. Advertisers used bossa nova as a marketing term to suggest that even the most static of objects could move.


[33] Suburban parties featuring bossa nova did not have to feature dancing, however. Bossa nova served as suitable background music as well. For instance, in his review of Os Bossa Três’ self-titled debut album from 1963, Hi-Fi/Stereo Review critic Joe Goldberg called the music recorded “Brazilian lounge music” and “suitable background for a Brazilian cocktail party."          Ann C. Eisner, writing a column titled “Music for Summertime Listening” in 1965 for Tape Recording magazine suggested a wide range of music suitable for “patio cocktail parties.” She primarily suggested that hosts “stick to brass and the warmer woodwinds as much as possible” since “strings have a tendency to get swallowed up outdoors.” She offered several albums that fit this criterion, most of them the easy listening and light orchestral by bandleaders like Frankie Carle and David Carroll. She included in this list two bossa nova albums, Miles Davis’ Quiet Nights and Joe Harnell’s Fly Me to The Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops.          Music technology executives endorsed this understanding of bossa nova as well and companies that built systems that played background music often incorporated bossa nova into their offerings. In 1963, for instance, Seeburg executives were pushing a new Encore! 1000-series background system which utilized 16 2/3-rpm records, many of them reportedly instrumental bossa nova.          These writers and industry executives were all pushing bossa nova’s suitability as background music.

[34] Judging by newspaper reports, many Americans included bossa nova as part of entertainment within the suburban home. Throughout the 1960s, newspapers often published society and “social scene” columns that reported on private parties, often reprinting the host (and occasionally the address of their residence), the party’s theme, what kind of food was served, what kind of entertainment was offered, and the guestlist, which was often extensive enough that it looked like it was reprinted straight from The Great Gatsby. In December 1962, for instance, Mary Matthew, writing for the Los Angeles Times, wrote about a welcome home party for a couple’s child who was attending boarding school in Switzerland. The party took place in Holmby Hills, a neighborhood just northeast of the University of California, Los Angeles, and offered entertainment that was provided by two Arthur Murray instructors who taught around forty teenagers how to dance the bossa nova.          In West Covina, a “beef and bossa nova party” held during the summer of 1963 closely resembled the party that would later be suggested by the Brazilian Coffee Institute in Seventeen magazine. At this party, attendees not only danced to and listened to bossa nova, but they also cooked steaks on braziers.          At a home in North Hollywood in fall 1963, for instance, members of the Valley Vista Junior Woman’s Club attended a “Mexican fiesta” that looked like it came straight out of a Patio frozen dinners advertisement. Guests of the party were treated to cocktails, an “authentic Mexican dinner,” and then after-dinner, an opportunity to dance the bossa nova and hit a piñata. Finally, an article by Enid A. Haupt suggested women throw World’s Fair-themed parties and adorn their houses in orange and blue streamers (the fair’s official color), balloons, colorful posters, and a fountain. Against this backdrop, Haupt suggested a guests dance several international dances: the merengue, the high life, and of course, the bossa nova. The suburban housewife adorned their house with visual representations of locations as specific as Mexico and as broad as “the world.” All the while, bossa nova offered an aural backdrop to such décor. 


[35] Reports in the African American press documented the popularity of such parties amongst the country’s middle class black population. Evelyn Cunningham, for instance, wrote in the Pittsburgh Courier about her experience attending an elegant “bossa nova cocktail party."          At the 1963 Debutante Cotillion in Chicago’s Pick-Congress Hotel, Theresa Fambro reported for the Chicago Defender that some of Chicago’s most pretty and young women, alongside their escorts, “did very intricate steps to the bossa nova."          The Baltimore Afro-American likewise covered the 5th Annual National Convention of the Little Foxes and Hares in Los Angeles. After the pageant, the newspaper reported, La Parisienne Studios hosted a “Bossa Nova After-Party” for the delegates and friends who participated.          The recently crowned “Miss Africa,” Abby Ekwonna, similarly visited Chicago where the same newspaper praised her for her ability to dance the “twist and the bossa nova."          In a demonstration of their cultural acumen and social status, middle-class African Americans turned to dancing the bossa nova. Doris McNeil’s “Westchester Notes” column for the New York Amsterdam News covered this community and often reported on where locals could dance the bossa nova: at places like the Johnson County club scholarship fund dance or at a residential “ViVants Bohemian” party. Bossa nova was danced to – and listened to – in black middle-class communities like Westchester County.         Sometimes, such parties even assumed a political focus. Take a “social swirl” party that occurred in Atlanta on March 24, 1963, at the Gammon Theological Seminary. There, guests Lorenzo Benn and Greta Gaston gave a history of the bossa nova dance and offered dancing demonstrations for the other guests. Among the attendees was a local NAACP representative.          Not every house party tried to channel Ford’s colonial expansion.

Background Music at the Supermarket

[36The process of storecasting began in the 1940s and was popularized by Stanley Joseloff, president of the Storecast Corporation of America. Joseloff began his career as an advertising agent with Young and Rubicam and during World War II worked as a functionary for the Office of War Information. After the war, he devoted his attention to his storecasting company which operated primarily in the Northeast. His service was an immediate hit. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Joseloff’s company received rave reviews from business periodicals such as Sponsor, Broadcasting Telecasting, and Radio Daily.

[37] Part of storecasting’s success during the 1960s relied on its method of dissemination. Previously, grocery stores that wanted to offer pre-recorded background music to customers had two options: either they could subscribe to a company that transmitted music via telephone wires, a process made famous by the Muzak Corporation in the 1930s; or they could purchase an in-house system, like Seeburg’s Library Unit, which operated exactly like a standard jukebox but did not require the operator to insert coins or any other method of payment.          However, Joseloff thought there was a better way to provide background music: FM radio provided better fidelity than telephone wires as well as wider coverage than what could be furnished by individual machines.


[38] Storecasting offered an alternative to piping in music via telephone wires or purchasing a large in-house unit. The Storecast Corporation of America operated like this: Joseloff either purchased a radio station outright or purchased airtime on a FM radio station to broadcast his service. One of the more popular stations Joseloff used was WMMW-FM (95.7), based out of Hartford. He initially went to any number of grocery stores in the area, such as First National, Acme Market, and Giant Eagle, and asked if they would like to subscribe to his service.          Joseloff also asked food manufacturers like Libby, Swift, General Foods, and Heinz if they would like to participate in the storecasting service as well. Once all the parties agreed, the grocery stores then received a specialized receiver that Joseloff set permanently to the storecasting radio frequency (95.7). The receivers also contained a specialized circuit board, called a tone plate, that received supersonic signals broadcast from 95.7. Nobody would have been able to audibly hear the supersonic signal being broadcast. Furthermore, when the sound reached the receivers of individuals who did not subscribe to Joseloff’s service, nothing would happen. However, the tone plate located in the subscriber’s receivers would pick up the signal, which would trigger a switch and either boost the volume of the receiver or turn off the receiver entirely. This service appealed not only to individual subscribers who wanted to mute advertisements, but to supermarkets as well.

[39] Storecasting’s success also relied on its ability to generate targeted advertisement to the listener.          Factories and households that subscribed to WMMW-FM generally chose to have the receiver turned off. Prior to the broadcast of an advertisement or an announcement required by the Federal Communications Committee (such as a station identification), WMMW-FM broadcasted a supersonic beep that triggered the receiver to turn off, thus muting the announcement. When the announcement finished, another supersonic beep sounded and turned the receiver back on. The supersonic beep could also increase the volume of a receiver as well, making advertisements much louder than the background music playing previously. Depending on the situation, supermarkets chose to use either option: when WMMW-FM was broadcasting an advertisement that did not apply directly to the grocery store (like for Ford Automobiles), the radio station would mute the advertisement. During this moment, the supermarket took an opportunity to play a relevant advertisement (say for Libby or Swift or any of the other participating manufacturers) directly from the store; conversely, if the WMMW-FM advertisement pertained to the supermarket’s customer base, the supersonic tone would increase the volume of advertisement for all shoppers to hear. Thanks to a series of on/off switches built into their receiver that responded to several different supersonic beeps of different frequencies, grocery stores were able to offer background music and targeted advertisements to their listeners. This method of broadcasting using supersonic beeps, known as simplexing, served as the primary method of storecasting until the late 1950s.

[40] Supermarket managers and pundits quickly embraced storecasting's ability to broadcast advertisements and background music because they believed the service motivated customers to purchase more goods. Postwar grocery stores specifically thought they could tempt women shoppers with appeals to their senses. Visual appeals played an important role; supermarkets often embraced the latest developments in fluorescent lights, used bright pastel colors in the interior design, and installed plate glass windows on the exterior of their building to attract motorists.           Supermarkets also strove to remove the odors of perishing fish and produce, attracted shoppers with new odors by developing in-house bakeries, and encouraged shoppers to pick up the produce and feel it.          Executives thought storecasting would contribute to such sensorial experiences.          Advertisements specifically targeted female shoppers and used a range of rhetorical and persuasive techniques. A column about storecasting in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine from 1947 includes an advertisement that the author heard in a Philadelphia supermarket. It merits quotation in full:

How do you do ladies? Could I have a moment of your time? I have something that will not only save you money but will pleasure the whole family. You remember in the old days when you came home from school and had a thick slice of delicious home-cooked bread made by your mother’s own hands with slathers of butter and jam? Well, now you do not have to burden mother over a hot oven if you will stop at counter seven and take home a full-sized loaf of oven-fresh delicious crusty-brown Mother’s Best Bread. A full-sized loaf for only 14 cents, sliced or not as you prefer. Now, don’t you think the time was well spent listening to my little message?

While industry executives used advertisements to specifically target women, most industry pundits believed background music would appeal to female shoppers as well. They offered rather reductionist and sexist reasons why. For instance, a different article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance stated that storecasting music “soothes the housewife while she eyes the bins and shelves, and by relaxing her nerves it relaxes her purse strings."          A newsletter published by Acme Markets, a supermarket chain operating primarily in the Northeast, felt that storecasting “relaxes the shopper” and that she consequently “falls into the spell of the rhythm and enjoys her shopping more.” The music such shoppers heard generally fell into the genres of light classical and jazz ballads: the aesthetic that was not too dissimilar from the background bossa nova played at dinner parties. For example, a survey by a storecasting company in 1956 asked what kind of music shoppers preferred to hear. The answers mentioned Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” – made famous by Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra in the late 1940s – “Lovely to Look At,” a ballad by Jerome Kern from 1933, and “I’m in the Mood for Love,” by Jimmy McHugh from 1935.

[41] Although storecasting gained the most traction and media coverage in the Northeast, several storecasting companies and participating grocery stores existed in Los Angeles as well. It should come as no surprise. Los Angeles grocers had been involved in the development of the modern supermarket since 1920 and stores like Ralphs Grocery Store, founded in 1873, were some of the first grocers to offer decentralized branches for commuters: large 10,000 square foot interiors, long checkout aisles for customers, and on-site parking for motorists. Such innovative and pioneering grocery stores ultimately embraced the possibilities of storecasting. In 1947, a report in Billboard announced that the National Marketcasting Company was serving 500 of Los Angeles’s 3,000 food markets. Stores like Myers Enterprises sold storecasting equipment like adapters, FM tuners, and receivers. In 1959, Broadcasting magazine estimated that not only were more residents of Los Angeles listening to FM radio than AM, but that a majority of the FM stations provided background music where people lived, worked, and shopped. Although popularized in the Northeast by executives like Joseloff, storecasting had arrived to the West Coast by the 1960s.

[42] The Certified Store Broadcasting Corporation was one of the more influential and prolific storecasting companies in Los Angeles. It began around 1955 when it held an account with Boy’s Grocery Store in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona.          In 1959, the company began to expand. Its owner, Edward Jacobson, purchased the local FM radio station, KGLA-FM (103.5), from the Echo Park Evangelist Association. He immediately turned the station into a source from which he broadcast music to Boy’s Supermarket and other supermarkets across the greater Los Angeles area. KGLA-FM was the second radio station he bought that year. In the spring, he also purchased a station in San Diego to serve the same function. It wouldn’t be his last purchase either; he was trying to start a storecasting empire. In 1960, he acquired two other stations in Arizona. From these stations, Jacobson was able to broadcast his music over radio airwaves and straight to supermarkets across the Southwest.          But in the Los Angeles area he mostly focused on attracting customers in the suburbs of Van Nuys and East Whittier.

[43] Musicast was another influential and prolific storecasting company operating in the Los Angeles area. It was owned and operated by Jack Kiefer, a man of many hats who not only operated Musicast but served as the vice-president of the Southern California Advertising Agencies Association, on the board of the FM Broadcasters of Southern California, and general manager of the radio station KMLA-FM.         Musicast began in the early 1950s as a company that provided background music to a diverse range of stores across the region: some were restaurants (Nixon’s in Whittier and the Blue Fox in Magnolia); some were department stores like Sears (in Pasadena and El Monte); some were banks (like Pico Citizen’s in Pico and a Bank of America branch in Pasadena); and some were hotels (like the Statler on Wilshire and Hollywood Plaza in Hollywood).          In 1957, Kiefer purchased KMLA-FM, which he quickly transferred into a storecasting station. That year, Musicast also opened an office in Westlake where they published pamphlets on storecasting and operated a call center to answer questions regarding their service.          Between 1959 and the mid-1960s, KMLA and Musicast held between 750 and 800 subscribers, each who paid a monthly average of $22.60 for the storecasting service.          In a letter to the Pasadena Independent, Kiefer personally described the effects his service had on shoppers. During a test conducted in a large supermarket chain, Musicast discovered that without music, housewives bought just two items. However, after the music came along, they bought four. “The shopping housewife buys more when music eases the pain of high prices,” Kiefer summarized.         Companies like Certified Store Broadcasting and Musicast simply provided music in a way that, as these companies believed and argued, relaxed female customers and tempted them to purchase more goods.          The effect storecasting had on women shoppers, however, is an entirely different issue.

Eric D. Barry, “High-Fidelity Sound as Spectacle and Sublime, 1950-1961,” in Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, ed. David Suisman and Susan Strasser (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 116–38.

Bertram Stanleigh, “Jazz and All That; Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall,” Audio, April 1964, 50.

Murray Dineen charts a short history of monophonic hi-fi albums in “The Historical Soundscape of Monophonic Hi–Fidelity,” Current Musicology 97 (Spring 2014): 9-20.

Richard A. Gradone, “Enoch Light (1905-1978): His Contributions to the Music Recording Industry” (PhD Dissertation, New York, NY, New York University, 1980).

Tim J. Anderson, “Training the Listener: Stereo Demonstration Discs in an Emerging Consumer Market,” in Living Stereo: Histories and Cultures of Multichannel Sound, ed. Paul Théberge, Kyle Devine, and Tom Everrett (New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 107–24. The popularity of stereo recordings, Eric D. Barry argues, regulated monophonic albums to the dustbin during most of the 1960s, only to be revived by audiophiles wishing to revisit the punchier sounds of 1950s and 1960s rock recorded in mono. See “Mono in the Stereo Age,” in Living Stereo: Histories and Cultures of Multichannel Sound, ed. Paul Théberge, Kyle Devine, and Tom Everrett (New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 125–46.

Tom Western notes in “Field Recording and the Production of Place,” in Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound, ed. Samantha Bennett and Eliot Bates (New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2018): 23-40 that such field recordings employ similar techniques employed in the studio. There really is no big difference between field recordings and studio recordings since neither are particularly transparent representations.

Examples, as Phil Ford notes, include Arab bazaars, lost jungles, the moon, or American mean streets (Phil Ford, “Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica,” Representations 103 [Summer 2008)]: 107-135 and “Jazz Exotica and the Naked City,” Journal of Musicological Research 27, no. 2 [2008]: 113-133).

Roshanak Kheshti, Modernity’s Ear: Listening to Race and Gender in World Music (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2015).

Peter Doyle, “From ‘My Blue Heaven’ to ‘Race with the Devil’: Echo, Reverb and (Dis)Ordered Space in Early Popular Music Recording,” Popular Music 23, no. 1(January 2004): 31-49 and Echo and Reverb: Fabricating Space in Popular Music Recording, 1900-1960 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2005).

Rebecca Leydon, “The Soft-Focus Sound: Reverb as a Gendered Attribute in Mid-Century Mood Music,” Perspectives of New Music 39, no. 2 (2002): 96-107 and “‘Ces Nymphes, Je Les Veux Perpétuer:’ The Post-War Pastoral in Spaceage Bachelor-Pad Music,” Popular Music 22, no. 2 (2002): 159-172.

Phil Hayward’s edited collection, Widening the Horizons: Exoticism in Post-War Popular Music (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2000) contains several articles that focus on exotica artists like Les Baxter, Martin Denny, and Yma Sumac. David Toop identifies the roots of such music as early as the eighteenth century, when classical composers similarly tried to convey “fabricated soundscapes”. See Exotica: Fabricated Soundscapes in a Real World [London: Serpent’s Tail, 1999]). Francesco Adinolfi offers a comprehensive overview of the exotica craze of the 1950s and 1960s, noting its influence on American bachelors and suburbanites, its presence in crime jazz and spy music, and its appeal as sexually liberatory and transgressive music (Mondo Exotica: Sounds, Visions, Obsessions of the Cocktail Generation [Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008]).

Heather Sloan highlights percussion as a salient characteristic of exotica in “The Other World Music: Percussion as Purveyor of Cultural Cues in Exotic Lounge Music,” College Music Symposium 49/50 (2010 2009): 409-426.

“Stan Getz,” Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1966, 56I.

John Connell and Chris Gibson write extensively on music and tourism. They focus music’s ability to evoke nostalgia for home and its ability to celebrate heritage in Sound Tracks: Popular Music, Identity and Place (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003) and Music and Tourism: On the Road Again (Clevedon: Channelview Publications, 2005). They also study album art from the 1950s and 1960s to demonstrate how music offers listeners the ability to serve as armchair explorers (“‘No Passport Necessary’: Music, Record Covers and Vicarious Tourism in Post-War Hawai‘i,” The Journal of Pacific History 43, no. 1 [2008]: 51-75 and “Vicarious Journeys: Travels in Music,” Tourism Geographies 6, no. 1 [2004]: 2-25).

Micol Seigel, Uneven Encounters: Making Race and Nation in Brazil and the United States (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009).

Jonathan E. Schroeder and Janet L. Borgerson stress the importance of album art and liner notes in constructing American understandings of foreign lands and cultures in Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017).

John Patrick Leary, A Cultural History of Underdevelopment: Latin America in the U.S. Imagination (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2016).

James P. Woodard, “Marketing Modernity: The J. Walter Thompson Company and North American Advertising in Brazil, 1929-1939,” Hispanic American Historical Review 82, no. 2 (May 2002): 257–90 and Brazil’s Revolution in Commerce: Creating Consumer Capitalism in the American Century (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2020) document this culture within Brazil. Clark Eric Hultquist’s “Americans in Paris: The J. Walter Thompson Company in France, 1927-1968,” Enterprise & Society 4, no. 3 (September 2003), Julio E. Moreno’s “Marketing in Mexico: Sears, Roebuck Company, J. Walter Thompson, and the Culture of North American Commerce in Mexico City during the 1940s,” Enterprise & Society 1, no. 1 (December 2000, and “J. Walter Thompson, the Good Neighbor Policy, And Lessons in Mexican Business Culture, 1920-1950,” Enterprise & Society 5, no. 2 (June 2004) support Woodard’s assertion about the rise of global consumer culture. Woodard details commercial culture in the Global South more generally in Consumer Culture, Market Empire, and the Global South,” Journal of World History 23, no. 2 (2012): 375–98.Such incursions into foreign market, Dawn Spring argues in “The Globalization of American Advertising and Brand Management: A Brief History of the J. Walter Thompson Company, Procter and Gamble, and US Foreign Policy,” The Global Studies Journal 5, no. 4 (2013), constituted a type of commercial imperialism. Patrick Hyder Patterson’s “The Supermarket as a Global Historical Development: Structures, Capital, and Values,” in The Routledge Companion to the History of Retailing (New York, NY: Routledge, 2018), 154–79, takes one aspect of consumer culture, the supermarket, and documents its proliferation around the globe during the twentieth century.

“Hopes Dim for Brazil Getting Carnegie Disk,” Billboard, December 8, 1962, 16.

“Columbia: Jazz Meets the Bossa Nova,” Billboard, November 24, 1962, 9.

Jackson Lears documents the roots of this frustration in No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

Steven M. Gelber, “Do-It-Yourself: Constructing, Repairing and Maintaining Domestic Masculinity,” American Quarterly 49, no. 1 (March 1997): 66–112.

Richard Harris, Building a Market: The Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1914-1960 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Ruth Oldenziel, Making Technology Masculine: Men, Women, and Modern Machines in America, 1870-1945 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1999).

Susan J. Douglas, “Audio Outlaws: Radio and Photography Enthusiasts,” in Possible Dreams: Technological Enthusiasm in America (Dearborn, MI: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, 1992).

Keir Keightley, “‘Turn It down!’ She Shrieked: Gender, Domestic Space, and High Fidelity, 1948-59,” Popular Music 15, no. 2 (May 1996): 149-177 and “Low Television, High Fidelity: Taste and the Gendering of Home Entertainment Technologies,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 47, no. 2 (June 2003): 236-259. Dianne Harris makes a similar argument about the gendered nature of hi-fi listening in “A Tiny Orchestra in the Living Room: High-Fidelity Sound, Stereo Systems, and the Postwar House,” in Making Suburbia: New Histories of Everyday America (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2015): 305-329.

Gene Ammons, Bad! Bossa Nova (Prestige, 1962).

Walter Wanderley and Digby Diehl, Quarteto Bossamba (World Pacific, 1967).

Charles A. Robertson, “Jazz and All That; Stan Getz/Luiz Bonfá: Jazz Samba Encore!; Charlie Rouse: Bossa Nova Bacchanal,” Audio, September 1963, 68.

“The Dynamic New Sound and Beat of Discotheque,” High Fidelity Magazine, November 1964, 124.

Edwin Miller, “Teens Are Listening To: Charlie Byrd – Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros,” Seventeen, February 1963.

Robert Cross, “Suburbanites, Are You Tired of That Tranquil Saturday Night Route of Beer, Barbecue, and Baby Sitting?,” Chicago Tribune, August 23, 1965, B3.

Tim Lawrence, Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 14.

Chris Rasmussen, “‘The People’s Orchestra’: Jukeboxes as the Measure of Popular Musical Taste in the 1930s and 1940s,” in Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, ed. David Suisman and Susan Strasser (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012: 181-198.

David Schoenbrun, “Paris in the Sixties: The Great Upsurge,” Esquire, February 1962, 80-84; 134-35.

“Discotheque Vol. 2,” HI-Fi/Stereo Review, May 1965, 92.

David Carroll and Dick Lochte, House Party Discothèque (House-Party Discotheque, 1964).

Russ Bensley, “The New Beat,” Eyewitness (CBS, December 28, 1962).

AF Speeds Two Bossa Nova LP’s: Orchestra Saxsambistas - Desafinado; Oscar Castro Nevers - Big Band Bossa Nova,” Cash Box, November 17, 1962, 36.

“Coast Kids Not Dancing in Streets Over Bossa,” Billboard, November 17, 1962, 38.

Page basically documented the presence of “omnivorous” tastes amongst teenagers, similar to what Richard A. Peterson and Roger M. Kern note in “Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore,” American Sociological Review 61, no. 5 (October 1996): 900–907.

“Teens Give 3 Bs Triple A Rating,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1963, C26.

Mendes quoted in John L. Scott, “Teen Musical Tastes Changing, Says Mendes,” Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1968, F1.

Jack Maher, “Kapp Flying High on Unknown Singles Acts, Solid Albums,” Billboard, May 11, 1963; Maher, “Label Planning Leans Heavily on New Style,” 1.

“Out Archer Way,” Atlanta Daily World, April 4, 1963, 3.

Leiber and Stoller Form Labels,” Cash Box, November 2, 1963, 32; “Corsages Bloom at Every Formal,” 8.

“Corsages Bloom at Every Formal,” Philadelphia Tribune, June 1, 1963, 8.

School News: Booker T. Washington School News P.T.A. Announcement,” Atlanta Daily World, March 10, 1963, 4.

“How to Start a Good Conversation about You...,” Seventeen, April 1964, 207.

Sybil Leek, “The Party in Your Future,” Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1967, no page.

Craig Claiborne, “The Dinner Went on Until 2 A.M.,” New York Times, November 25, 1965, 63.

What Does It Take to Be a Great Mexican Cook?,” Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1967, C2.

“The Broadway,” Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1963, E3.

“Tip-Top,” Seventeen, May 1963, 185; “Sally Schrank,” Seventeen, August 1963, 158; “Danceable Dress Is Life of the Party,” Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1963, D11; Vi Weber, “The Well-Dressed Man: Light-Hearted Approach to Formal Wear,” Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1963, A35; “Frug?,” New York Times, November 28, 1964, 35; “The Bossa Nova Sweater . . .,” Los Angeles Times, April 22, 1963, B5.

“Bullocks Store for Men,” Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1962, C3.

“Bossa Nova Juniper,” Los Angeles Times, April 19, 1964, 04; “New Rhythm ‘N’ Color,” Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1963, 4; “Penney’s,” Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1963, 19; “Famous Bossa Nova Accent Rugs!,” Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1964, W5.

Ann C. Eisner, “Building the Basic Tape Library (Music for Summertime Listening),” Tape Recording, August 1965, 25.

Joe Goldberg, “Jazz; The Bossa Tres: Os Bossa Tres/Don Goldie: Trumpet Caliente,” HI-Fi/Stereo Review, November 1963, 111–12.

Mary Matthew, “Welcome Home Mat Is Out,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1962, D1.

“Seeburg Adds Bossa Nova, C&W, Pop,” Cash Box, June 1, 1963, 62.

Matthew, D1; “Juniors Plan a Beef and Bossa Nova Party,” Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1963, H9.

“Fiesta on Club’s Agenda,” Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1963, D10D; Enid A. Haupt, “Worldly Party Is Fairer Than Most,” Washington Post, April 6, 1964, B5.

Evelyn Cunningham, “Evelyn Cunningham,” Pittsburgh Courier, December 15, 1962, 15.

Theresa Fambro, “Links’ Debs Bow At 1963 Cotillion,” Chicago Defender, June 25, 1963, 14.

“‘Little Foxes’ 5th Convention in Los Angeles,” Baltimore Afro-American, July 27, 1963, 7.

“‘Miss Africa’ Charms with Wit, Intellect,” Baltimore Afro-American, March 2, 1963, 7.

Doris McNeil, “Westchester Notes,” New York Amsterdam News, February 9, 1963, 23; Doris McNeil, “Westchester Notes,” New York Amsterdam News, March 2, 1963.

Ozeil Fryer Woolcock, “Social Swirl,” Atlanta Daily World, March 24, 1963, 3.

“If You Sell in Grocery Stores,” Sponsor, May 9, 1949, 73; “Selling the Customer at The Store Shelf,” Broadcasting Telecasting, October 30, 1950, 23; “Storecast Using FM Radio in New England Area,” Radio Daily, July 15, 1949, 3.

Alexandra Hui, “Muzak-While-You-Work: Programming Music for Industry, 1919-1948,” Historische Anthropologie 22, no. 3 (December 2014): 364–83.

Storecasting continues a tradition of department stores playing music for customers. Linda L. Tyler’s “‘Commerce and Poetry in Hand’: Music in American Department Stores, 1880-1930,” Journal of American Musicological Society 45, no. 1 (Spring 1992): 75–120, notes the existence of classical musicians performing within department stores. Department stores also purchased radio stations so that they could run specific ads directly to consumers. See Noah Arceneaux, “The Wireless in The Window: Department Stores and Radio Retailing in the 1920s,” Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication 83, no. 3 (Autumn 2006): 581–95, “A Sales Floor in the Sky: Philadelphia Department Stores and the Radio Boom of the 1920s,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 53, no. 1 (March 20090: 76–89, “Wanamaker’s Department Store and the Origins of Electronic Media, 1910-1922,” Technology and Culture 51, no. 4 (October 2010): 809–28, and “Department Stores and Television: Broadcasting the Display Window into the Home, 1939–1950,” Journalism History 43, no. 4 (2018): 219–27.

“FM Beep Signals: Supersonic-Controlled FM for Bus and Storecasting,” RF Cafe (blog), June 3, 2020,; W. H. Collins, “Supersonic-Controlled FM for Bus and Storecasting,” Radio-Electronics, April 1951, 30.

Alexander Russo, Points on the Dial: Golden Age Radio beyond the Networks (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010) and “An American Right to an ‘Unannoyed Journey’? Transit Radio as A Contested Site of Public Space and Private Attention, 1949-1952,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 29, no. 1 (March 2009): 1–25 discuss the birth of casting to sell goods, particularly within public transit during the 1940s and 1950s. Eileen R. Meehan’s “A History Of The Commodity Audience,” in A Companion to the History of American Broadcasting, ed. Aniko Bodroghkozy (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2018), 347–69, similarly discusses radio listeners as audiences that radio stations tap into for commercial reasons.

The rise of the automobile gave rise to the supermarket, dramatically changing the built environment and transforming American gender relations. Richard Longstreth’s The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999) describes the architecture of the supermarket, noting its large open floor plan and design helped keep requisite staff to a minimum and turned over large amounts of goods.

Adam Mack, “‘Speaking of Tomatoes’: Supermarkets, The Senses, and Sexual Fantasy in Modern America,” Journal of Social History 43, no. 4 (Summer 2010): 815–42.

Supermarket executives intended for such techniques to undermine women shoppers’ agency. Lizabeth Cohen notes how chain stores gave new freedom to black consumers who did not have to encounter racist proprietors of local groceries (Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America [New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2003]). However, Tracey Deutsch notes, postwar supermarkets implemented policies that undermined women’s abilities to police stores. Instead of permitting bartering and bargaining, for instance, chains implemented price controls to control shoppers’ actions (“Making Change at the Grocery Store: Government, Grocers, and the Problem of Women’s Autonomy in the Creation of Chicago’s Supermarkets, 1920-1950,” Enterprise & Society 5, no. 4 [December 2004]: 607–16; Building A Housewife’s Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century [Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010]).

“Music While You Shop,” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, August 1947, 26.

“Storecasting Woos the Customers,” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, June 1950, 24.

Mack, “‘Speaking of Tomatoes’: Supermarkets, The Senses, and Sexual Fantasy in Modern America,” 826.

Storecast Corp. Puts Music in Chain Marts,” Billboard, September 27, 1947, 96; “Eliminate Commercials,” Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1964, 25; “Chicago/West Coast,” 128-130, February 9, 1959, 128.

“Ad Page,” Pomona Progress Bulletin, November 16, 1955, sec. 5, 12.

“Changing Hands,” Broadcasting, August 3, 1959, 52; “Station Sales,” Broadcasting, June 8, 1959, 10; “Applications,” Broadcasting, January 16, 1961, 87.

“Certified Store Broadcasting Company,” The Van Nuys News, March 5, 1959, 5; “Ad Page,” The East Whittier Review, August 11, 1960, 44.

“Radiorama,” Broadcasting, March 29, 1948, 16

“Southern California Fms Start Airing TeleVerter Announcements,” Broadcasting, December 2, 1957, 76; “Grand Opening,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1954, 12; “Blue Fox,” Long Beach Independent, June 12, 1954, 6; “There’ll Be Music While You Shop,” Pasadena Independent, September 10, 1958, B-11; “Store Music Attuned to All Moods,” Covina Argus, November 6, 1958, 4; “Pico Bank in New Building,” Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1953, 4; “Teller Windows Now Obsolete?,” Pasadena Independent, March 5, 1954, 36; “Provided by MUSICAST,” Daily News and Post, November 21, 1952, 22; “Musicast,” Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1952, 13

“Call Letters Assigned,” Broadcasting, August 27, 1956, 116

KMLA Broadcast. Corp. v. Twentieth Century Cig. Vend. Corp., 264 F. Supp. 35 (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 1967)

Jack Kiefer, “Letter,” Pasadena Independent, February 19, 1954, 30.

Storecasting can be seen as a type of Muzak or background music, which as Ronald M. Radano notes, shifts the importance of music from the producer to the listener (“Interpreting Muzak: Speculations on Musical Experience in Everyday Life,” American Music 7, no. 4 [Winter 1989]: 448-506.


[44] Although the purpose of storecasting had not changed since the early 1950s, by the late 1950s and early 1960s companies such as Certified Store Broadcasting and Musicast had to implement several technological changes due to new regulations. In the early 1950s, storecasters relied on a supersonic beep to transmit targeted advertisements to grocery stores. However, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) determined that this “simplex” technique did not embody the spirit of radio for the public good and gradually forbade it by the end of the 1950s. At the same time, they realized the popularity of subscription radio and offered an alternative.          In 1955 the FCC began to issue Subsidiary Communications Authorizations which allowed FM radio stations to broadcast main as well as subsidiary broadcasts. This process was called “multiplexing.” It worked like this: a radio station such as KGLA-FM or KMLA-FM would have to devote their main channel (103.5 and 100.3 respectively) to public broadcasting. This broadcast abided by all the requirements and regulations set by Congress and the FCC. However, radio stations could also broadcast subcarrier stations filled with background music and targeted (or muted) advertisements. Multiplexing relied on FM radio’s wide range of useable bandwidth. So, while they used frequency 103.5 to broadcast a main broadcast, a radio station such as KGLA-FM could also tap into the frequency 103.25 to broadcast something entirely different.          Once again, subscribers purchased specialized equipment sold and installed by KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM so that they could access the broadcast from these subcarriers. By the 1970s, the music from the subcarrier and main channel differed widely: one may have played background music, the other played something like album-oriented rock.          However, in the early 1960s, this was likely not the case. FM radio stations were always strapped for cash during the 1950s as they competed with both AM radio and television for advertisement revenue. The FCC regulations regarding simplexing starved them even more. It cost Musicast and KMLA $100,000 to switch all their equipment from simplex-compatible to multiplex-compatible during the early 1960s. Duplicating broadcasts simply saved money. Furthermore, most FM stations such as KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM already devoted their main channel to playing background music anyways, so their programming would not have differed much between the main and subcarrier stations. All that differed was the nature of the advertisements.

[45] While the late 1950s brought about new technological changes, radio stations like KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM also changed their programming thanks to the arrival of bossa nova. In the late 1950s, these two radio stations played mostly light classical works by composers like Annunzio Paolo Mantovani and André Previn. They continued to play that repertoire, but radio logs published in the Los Angeles Times throughout the 1960s show an increased incorporation of bossa nova into their storecasting programming. Beginning in July 1962, bossa nova albums like George Shearing’s Latin Lace and Stan Getz’s Jazz Samba played in grocery stores across the Los Angeles area. By the winter of that year and into 1963, more artists were beginning to record bossa nova. Almost immediately, KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM incorporated such music into their programming as well. Albums like Quincy Jones’ Big Band Bossa Nova, Eddie Heywood’s Canadian Sunset Bossa Nova, and Clare Fischer’s Bossa Nova Jazz Samba eventually joined the rotation and provided extra music to accompany the suburban shopping

[46] KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM liked one album in particular: Herman Clebanoff’s Lush, Latin & Bossa Nova Too!. Of all the bossa nova albums played, they played this one the most often, turning the album into a ubiquitous component of supermarkets’ brand.          Clebanoff began his career as a concert violinist in Chicago during the 1940s and eventually formed a string orchestra of his own, releasing his first album, Moods in Music, in 1958. The album title alluded to American advertisers’ larger marketing strategy in the later 1950s to use “mood” in advertising to appeal to consumers’ emotions. Psychological research conducted by Ernest Dichter, which stressed the importance of affect (as opposed to “reason”) in advertising, existed alongside efforts by composers like Mitch Leigh to broaden the emotionality of music used in advertising.          Unsurprisingly, the music industry immersed itself in promoting bossa nova’s ability to capture “moods.” Cash Box noted how the Paul Smith Quartet’s album, Slightly Latin, was a “pleasant, late hours mood companion."          Similarly, Ronnie Aldrich’s The Magic Moods of Ronnie Aldrich markets itself on the pianist’s ability to, thanks to recordings like “A felicidade” and “Garota de Ipanema,” capture “magic moods” of “standard destinations” such as Brazil. 

[47] In 1963, Clebanoff followed alongside a growing interest towards “mood music” and released Lush, Latin & Bossa Nova Too!, an album that foregrounded a solo alto flute, muted violins, and a lush string section. The album’s instrumentation and arrangement place it alongside some other attempts in 1963 to merge bossa nova with a string section. Such examples include a collaboration between Antônio Carlos Jobim and arranger Claus Ogerman, The Composer of Desafinado Plays, and another KGLA-FM and KMLA-FM favorite, Bill Perkins’ Bossa Nova with Strings Attached. Clebanoff’s album’s aesthetic, timbre, and instrumentation also placed it in a long lineage of light classical composers like George Melachrino. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Melachrino released several albums for RCA Victor with titles that played on the same theme: there was Music for Dining and Music for Reading, More Music for Relaxation and Music for Romance. Melachrino’s music lacked the rhythmic drive found in Herbanoff’s and Melachrino incorporated a broader range of orchestral instruments like harp, French horn, and clarinets into his arrangements. Yet, both artists strove to capture and offer a particular mood for the listener. An album like Melachrino’s Music for Romance offers that mood right in the title. Clebanoff offers a similar mood in Latin, Lush & Bossa Nova Too!. However, he articulates it not in the album title, but in his LP cover art. Mercury Records packaged Clebanoff’s album with a photograph of a woman exposing her shoulders and smiling flirtatiously for the camera.

[48] As the seductive cover art to Clebanoff’s album suggests, bossa nova albums often strove to merge an interest in geographic exploration of Brazil with sexualized desire. In fact, the two have often been inseparable. American literary scholar Henry Nash Smith touched upon the idea as early as 1957, when he wrote Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth.          However, it was not until 1975 when another literary scholar, Annette Kolodny, published The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters.          Kolodny notes how American colonizers continuously invoked the “land-as-woman” metaphor in their descriptions of the New World – something that was implicit in Smith’s title, “Virgin Lands,” but not fully articulated until Kolodny studied the writing of early-American literary figures such as Philip Freneau, James Fenimore Cooper, and John James Audubon. Three years later, Edward Said made a similar argument in Orientalism.           Instead of focusing, however, on feminized depictions of the United States, Said argued that Western men wrote about the Orient as a place full of “feminine penetrability.” Clebanoff’s album cover suggests that fantasy about Brazil often merged with a fantasy about sex. 

[49] When Americans went to the supermarket and heard bossa nova while shopping, they were able to have the fantasies about Brazil that they had while listening to hi-fi stereos or through the consumption of consumer goods and hosting of dinner parties. Together, storecasting, hosting a dance party, and listening to bossa nova on a hi-fi stereo offered American men and women similar experiences. While they all helped suburbanites cultivate a genuine interest in cosmopolitanism and Brazilian culture, they also helped cultivate reductionist and sexualized views of Brazil. In this way, the music they listened to was not only respite from suburban life but an integral component of it.

[50] Travelers today can go to Fordlândia and still see the town’s ninety-year-old water tower and the abandoned and decrepit Ford-era buildings. Travelers can also pick up a copy of a bossa nova album from the 1960s like Paul Winter’s Jazz Meets Bossa Nova or Herman Clebanoff’s Lush, Latin & Bossa Nova Too. Both are, in many ways, vestiges of colonial expansionist desires and conquest.

“The Evolution of FM Radio: 1951-1956,” Journal of Broadcasting 7, no. 4 (Fall 1963): 305–22

“FM Multiplex Stereo: How It’s Done,” Pavek Museum (blog), accessed February 1, 2021,

KMLA Broadcast. Corp. v. Twentieth Century Cig. Vend. Corp., 264 F. Supp. 35

Rami Stucky, “Storecasting Question (Music History PhD),” Antique Radios, January 26, 2021,

Customers who listen “world music” like bossa nova engaged in what Anahid Kassabian calls “bi-modality” and “distributed tourism.” Customers are “here” (Starbucks, in Kassabian’s example) and “there” (wherever the music is trying to capture) simultaneously. See Kassabian’s “Would You Like Some World Music with Your Latte? Starbucks, Putumayo, and Distributed Tourism,” Twentieth-Century Music 2, no. 1 (2004): 209-223 and Ubiquitous Listening: Affect, Attention, and Distributed Subjectivity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2013). John Connell and Chris Gibson similarly note how such world music “deterritorializes” place by making it impossible to trace a culture’s authenticity (“World Music: Deterritorializing Place and Identity,” Progress in Human Geography 28, no. 3 [2004]: 342-361).

K.E. Goldschmitt, “Bossa Nova and Twenty-First Century Commerce: Branded Ubiquitous Music and the Global Bourgeoisie,” in Brazil’s Northern Wave: Fifty Years of Bossa Nova in the United States, ed. Jason Stanyek and Frederick Moehn (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, in press).

Timothy D. Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

“Album Reviews: Paul Smith Quartet – Slightly Latin,” Cash Box, February 2, 1963, 24.

Ronnie Aldrich and Ira Howard, The Magic Moods of Ronnie Aldrich (London Records, 1965).

Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950).

Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975).

Edward Said, Orientalism (New York, NY: Pantheon, 1978).

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