American Popular Music

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Overview

Designed as a broad introductory survey, and written by experts in the field, this book examines the rise of American music over the past hundred years—the period in which that music came into its own and achieved unprecedented popularity. Beginning with a look at music as a business, eleven essays explore a variety of popular musical genres, including Tin Pan Alley, blues, jazz, country, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, folk, rap, and Mexican American corridos. Reading these essays, we come to see that the forms created by one group often appeal to, and are in turn influenced by, other groups—across lines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region, and age.

The chapters speak to one another, arguing for the primacy of such concepts as minstrelsy, urbanization, hybridity, and crossover as the most powerful tools for understanding American popular music. Moving beyond outdated music-industry categories and misleading genre labels, while acknowledging the complexities of the market, the book recovers and reinforces the essential blackness of much popular music—even a presumably white form like country and western.

In addition to Rachel Rubin and Jeffrey Melnick, contributors include Reebee Garofalo, Geoffrey Jacques, Kip Lornell, Mark Anthony Neal, Millie Rahn, David Sanjek, James Smethurst, Elijah Wald, and Gail Hilson Woldu.

About the Authors:
Rachel Rubin is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature.

Jeffrey Melnick is assistant professor of American studies at Babson College and author of A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
This volume draws attention to the ways that gatekeepers in American culture in the 20th century have been deeply invested in defining "popular" music, even as they scorn it. It excludes opera, art song, film, symphonic, and avant-garde experimental music; rather, it focuses on those kinds of music that reach large numbers of people across categories of race, class, gender, age, region, and sexuality. After a chapter on the business of popular music, each of the remaining 10 essays attempt to place it in time and space and shows how expressive practices and social processes are tied up with and indeed help shape each other. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558492677
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 5/8/2001
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Work of Popular Music 1
I They Work Hard for Their Money: The Business of Popular Music 9
II Tin Pan Alley and the Black-Jewish Nation 29
III How I Got to Memphis: The Blues and the Study of American Culture 47
IV Listening to Jazz 65
V Sing Me Back Home: Nostalgia, Bakersfield, and Modern Country Music 93
VI Off the Charts: Outrage and Exclusion in the Eruption of Rock and Roll 111
VII Another Man Is Beating My Time: Gender and Sexuality in Rhythm and Blues 127
VIII One Hundred Years of Black Gospel Quarter Singing 141
IX Contextualizing Rap 173
X The Folk Revival: Beyond Child's Canon and Sharp's Song Catching 193
XI Polka Contrabandista: Mexican Ballads in the Modern Age 211
Works Cited 231
Notes on Contributors 249
Index 253
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