Fifty Years of the Concept Album in Popular Music: From The Beatles to Beyoncé

Fifty Years of the Concept Album in Popular Music: From The Beatles to Beyoncé

by Eric Wolfson
Fifty Years of the Concept Album in Popular Music: From The Beatles to Beyoncé

Fifty Years of the Concept Album in Popular Music: From The Beatles to Beyoncé

by Eric Wolfson


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The concept album is one of popular music's most celebrated-and misunderstood-achievements. This book examines the untold history of the rock concept album, from The Beatles to Beyoncé.

The roots of the concept album are nearly as old as the long-playing record itself, as recording artists began using the format to transcend a mere collection of songs into a listening experience that takes the listener on a journey through its unifying mood, theme, narrative, or underlying idea.
Along the way, artists as varied as the Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Parliament, Donna Summer, Iron Maiden, Radiohead, The Notorious B.I.G., Green Day, Janelle Monáe, and Kendrick Lamar created albums that form an extended conversation of art and music. Limits were pushed as the format grew over the subsequent eras.

Seminal albums like the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Who's Tommy, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, stand alongside modern classics like Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, Kendrick Lamar's good kid, "m.A.A.d city," and Beyoncé's Lemonade. Mixing iconic albums with some newer and lesser-known works makes for a book that ventures into the many sides of a history that has yet to be told-until now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501391828
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 12/28/2023
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 874,256
File size: 641 KB

About the Author

Eric Wolfson is the author of the critically acclaimed 33 1/3 book From Elvis in Memphis. He runs the accompanying website,, and is active on Twitter (@EricWolfson) and Instagram (@EricWolfson). He lives in Washington, D.C., and works in the Performing Arts Division of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ramblin' on my Mind
Part 1: The Psychedelic Era (1967-1969)
1. We Hope You Will Enjoy the Show: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (1967)
2. This Day Will Last a Thousand Years: Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues (1967)
3. We Are the Other People: We're Only in it for the Money by The Mothers of Invention (1968)
4. The One That Rambles on for a Million Miles: Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix (1968)
5. Amazing Journey: Tommy by the Who (1969)
Part 2: The Progressive Era (1970-1974)
6. God Know Where We're Heading: What's Going On by Marvin Gaye (1971)
7. I Am on a Lonely Road and I Am Traveling: Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971)
8. We'll Have Superman for President: Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull (1972)
9. Like a Regular Superstar: The Rise&Fall of Ziggy Stardust&the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie (1972)
10. And if the Band You're in Starts Playing Different Tunes: The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973)
Part 3: The Modern Era (1975-1989)
11. Tear the Roof Off the Sucker: Mothership Connection by Parliament (1975)
12. Fairy Tale High: Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds (1985)
13. There's No Returning on this Chartered Trip Away: Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü (1984)
14. As Soon as You're Born You're Dying: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden (1988)
15. This Is a Recording: 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul (1989)
Part 4: The Postmodern Era (1990-1999)
16. I Wanna Be Mesmerizing Too: Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair (1993)
17. I Am the Silencing Machine: The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails (1994)
18. I Feel LIke Death is Fuckin' Callin' Me: Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
19. A Handshake of Carbon Monoxide: OK Computer by Radiohead (1997)
20. I Chose to Use My Heart: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Part 5: The New Millennium (2000-2016)
21. Been Taken for Lost and Gone and Unknown for a Long, Long Time: Smile by Brian Wilson (2004)
22. All Across the Alien Nation: American Idiot by Green Day (2004)
23. If You Want to Be Free: The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe (2010)
24. The One in Front of the Gun Lives Forever: Good Kid, m.A.A.d City by Kendrick Lamar (2012)
25. Won't Let My Freedom Rot in Hell: Lemonade by Beyoncé (2016)
Conclusion: When Everybody Who Is Lonely Will Be Free

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