The editor of numerous ragtime collections, Jasen (communications, Long Island Univ., C.W. Post) draws on his authoritative background to create this useful and entertaining reference work featuring "most popular, best remembered, historically important, and interesting or unusual" songs. He broadly defines popular songs to include parlor songs, jazz instrumentals, big band standards, movie music, easy listening, blues, rock, country, and rap to arrive at about 2000 titles; browsing through the contents encourages nostalgic reflection and humming. The main body of the work is an alphabetical listing by song title indicating composer, lyricist, publisher, copyright date, source (if from a show or film), who first sang or played it, later popularizers (if any), and recording chart positions with label name/number. Contributions by non-Americans, such as the Beatles, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Franz Lehar, are also present. Undoubtedly, some readers will miss their favorites and question why some others made the cut. For example, there is nothing by Leonard Bernstein or from A Chorus Line or Les Mis rables, but almost every song from Guys and Dolls is included. Jasen routinely provides enlightening comments to accompany the listing, an effort that is at times hindered by grammatical errors, misspellings, and personal biases with annoying exclamation points. Indexes by composer (but not lyricist), publisher, and year and a listing of Academy Award-winning songs round out the volume. Jasen acknowledges relying on Donald Stubblebine's Cinema Sheet Music and Billboard charts as compiled by Joel Whitburn. Libraries owning these titles and Nat Shapiro's "Popular Music" series can probably skip this secondary source; for others, it is recommended as an affordable, one-stop reference. Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
'... Jasen draws on his authoritative background to create this useful and entertaining reference work ... it is recommended as an affordable, one-stop reference.'- Library Journal