Supremely American: Popular Song in the 20th Century

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This is a study of the way in which popular words and music relate to American life. The question of what popular song was, and why it came into existence, as well as how each song fit within the context of the larger 20th Century society are considered and explained clearly and fruitfully. Songs of the Jazz Age and Swing Era are considered primarily in terms of song-types and their relation to the times. Post World War II songs are shown to have splintered into a multitude of different styles and variations within each style. Many 20th Century songs came to be closely identified with particular singers and performance groups, shifting the attention to the styles identified with particular performers and the audiences they reached. Tawa avoids overly-technical vocabulary, making this examination of hundreds of popular songs accessible to a wide variety of readers seeking to better their understanding of the often perplexing musical landscape of the time.

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Editorial Reviews

Reference and Research Book News
In this accessibly written volume, Tawa traces the rise of the popular song in twentieth-century America. Songs of the Jazz Age and Swing Era are considered primarily in terms of their relationship to the times, while coverage of the post-WWII era focuses on the diversity of styles that emerged. The public's idolization of particular singers such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra is also discussed.
...provides diverse and interesting context for many American songs and song styles, and he explains the many exchanges between popular music and society in respect to politics and historical events....This book will be useful for American studies and history courses that embrace popular music and society as well as for music curricula. Recommended.
Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, June 2006 - vol. 62
There is a lot of good information found within this book....a useful study of popular music in America.
Gunther Schuller
There are so many good things in [this] book—good important information, good correct assessments and evaluations.
...provides diverse and interesting context for many American songs and song styles, and he explains the many exchanges between popular music and society in respect to politics and historical events....This book will be useful for American studies and history courses that embrace popular music and society as well as for music curricula. Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810852952
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas E. Tawa is professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the cofounder of the Sonneck Society for American Music.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Acknowledgments Part 2 Introduction Chapter 3 1 Preliminary Considerations Chapter 4 The 19th Century's Close Chapter 5 The African-American Input Chapter 6 The New Breed of Songwriters Chapter 7 Going After the Public Chapter 8 Song in the Public Consciousness Chapter 9 Notes Chapter 10 2 A Closer Look at the Jazz Age Chapter 11 Zeroing In on the 1920s Chapter 12 Shouters and Crooners Chapter 13 The Natural World of Popular Song Chapter 14 Songs: Earnest and with Feeling Chapter 15 The Torch Song Chapter 16 Novelties and Dance Songs Chapter 17 Disaster Strikes Chapter 18 Notes Chapter 19 3 Swing Time Chapter 20 Entertainment Circles Chapter 21 The Swing Era Begins Chapter 22 The Transformation of the Singer Chapter 23 Songs for the Recovery Chapter 24 Novelties and Other One-of-a-Kind Songs Chapter 25 Serious Songs Chapter 26 Light Love Songs Chapter 27 The More Sober Love Songs Chapter 28 Notes Chapter 29 4 Change: Different Music Cultures Come to the Fore Chapter 30 The Generational Cold War Chapter 31 Getting Music to Young People Chapter 32 African-American Music Chapter 33 Country and Western Chapter 34 Folklike Music Chapter 35 Rockabilly and the Start of Rock 'n' Roll Chapter 36 Notes Chapter 37 5 White-American and British Songs in a Decade of Turmoil Chapter 38 Traditional Popular Music Chapter 39 Varieties of Country Music Chapter 40 The Counterculture Chapter 41 Folk to Folk-Rock Chapter 42 California Dreaming Chapter 43 The British Invasion Chapter 44 Notes Chapter 45 6 Black-American Music Comes to the Fore in the 1960s Chapter 46 Soul Music Chapter 47 Funk Chapter 48 Motown Chapter 49 Notes Chapter 50 7 Out of the Seventies Chapter 51 Traditional Popular Music in the Seventies and Beyond Chapter 52 Country and Western in the Seventies Chapter 53 The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter Chapter 54 Reggae Migrates to the United States Chapter 55 Disco and the Urge to Dance Chapter 56 The Rebellious Posture: Heavy Metal Chapter 57 Progressive to Punk Chapter 58 Notes Chapter 59 8 The Eighties and Nineties Chapter 60 Country and Western Persists Chapter 61 Changes in the Musical Landscape Chapter 62 Celebrities in the Adolescent Arena Chapter 63 New Options: Grunge, Alternative, and Indie Chapter 64 Hip-Hop and Rap Take Over Chapter 65 Notes Chapter 66 9 A Temporary Ending Chapter 67 Popular Culture at the Turn of the Century Chapter 68 Counterthrust Chapter 69 The Onset of the Older Fan Chapter 70 In Conclusion Chapter 71 Notes Part 72 Selected Bibliography Part 73 Index Part 74 About the Author

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