Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music / Edition 1

Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music / Edition 1

by Benjamin Filene
Pub. Date:
The University of North Carolina Press
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Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music / Edition 1

In American music, the notion of "roots" has been a powerful refrain, but just what constitutes our true musical traditions has often been a matter of debate. As Benjamin Filene reveals, a number of competing visions of America's musical past have vied for influence over the public imagination in this century.

Filene builds his story around a fascinating group of characters—folklorists, record company executives, producers, radio programmers, and publicists—who acted as middlemen between folk and popular culture. These cultural brokers "discovered" folk musicians, recorded them, and promoted them. In the process, Filene argues, they shaped mainstream audiences' understanding of what was "authentic" roots music.

Filene moves beyond the usual boundaries of folk music to consider a wide range of performers who drew on or were drawn into the canon of American roots music—from Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, to Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, to Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. Challenging traditional accounts that would confine folk music revivalism to the 1930s and 1960s, he argues instead that the desire to preserve and popularize America's musical heritage is a powerful current that has run throughout this century's culture and continues to flow today.

About the Author:
Benjamin Filene is a public historian at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807825501
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 06/26/2000
Series: Cultural Studies of the United States Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.01(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Setting the Stage: Identifying an American Folk
Music Heritage, 1900-19309
Chapter 2 Creating the Cult of Authenticity: The Lomaxes
and Lead Belly47
Chapter 3 Mastering the Cult of Authenticity: Leonard
Chess, Willie Dixon, and the Strange Career of Muddy Waters76
Chapter 4 Searching for Folk Music's Institutional Niche:
Alan Lomax, Charles Seeger, B. A. Botkin, and Richard Dorson133
Chapter 5. Performing the Folk: Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan183

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