Modernism, Regionalism, and American Popular Song
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: Music in American Life
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
List of Illustrations
Introduction From a Basement on Long Island to a Mansion on the Hill
Traditionally, in books of this sort, this is the place where the author establishes his authenticity. This is my chance to display some musical cred—my personal intimacy with the blues and country and redneck rock and roll. At the very least, I let you look at my record collection—bootlegs and all—so you know you’re dealing with a guy who knows his stuff. But, ...
Chapter One Lord, It Just Won’t Stop!: Work and Blues in the Industrial Delta
In the opening scene of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel Native Son, the Thomas family wakes to find that a hungry rat has invaded their dingy one-room apartment. Mother and sister pick up their skirts, screaming, while eldest son Bigger grabs a skillet and takes aim at the beast. The rat is ultimately bested, but the battle leads to a heated dispute about money ...
Chapter Two Thought I Had Your Heart Forever: Death, Detachment, and the Modernity of Early
So I walked down to the local store and picked up all seven volumes of Fiddlin’ John Carson’s Complete Recorded Works (1923–34). And, yes, I listened—with my earbuds in—to 156 ballads, minstrel songs, reels, agrarian anthems, and rustic hymns. And like many others, I quickly learned that listening to the oft-proclaimed “Father of Country Music” can be a...
Chapter Three “A Rambling Funny Streak”: Woody Guthrie, Revolutionary Folk Song, and the Migrant
The nearly miraculous climax of Woody Guthrie’s Bound for Glory takes place at the Ace High bar, where a down-and-out Guthrie and his partner Cisco Houston are playing for chips in front of a “pretty low” crowd. After surveying the rather grim mood at the bar, the two musicians launch into a set of comic verses about the brave boys fighting the good fight abroad:...
Chapter Four Four Elvises: On the Dada Possibilities of Midcentury Rock and Roll and Modern Fan
So the artist goes shopping. With his belly full of wine and sandwiches, he heads down Fifth Avenue and enters the showroom of the J. L. Mott Iron Works. He wanders over to the bath section and eyes the fixtures on display—sinks, tubs, toilets. He fingers the white rims, notes the play of light and shadow, looks cautiously into a pipe. There, at the end of the...
Chapter Five ( )
I’ve never been to Lubbock County, but I’m sure it must be beautiful— nothing but blue skies, open fields, and long, long roads. I imagine an immense space carved up in abstract strokes, broad swaths of color and clean, stark lines—a quiet geometry of work and rest, pain and hope. At least that’s what I hear when I listen to the songs recorded in the tidy little ...