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Forever Doo-Wop
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summary
Music can be a storehouse for emotional, social, and cultural experiences that deepen and acquire greater value over time. This is a book about a particular genre of vocal harmony music called doo-wop that has accrued deep meaning and affective power among Americans since its inception in the aftermath of World War II. Although the first doo-wop singers were primarily young black males in major American cities, it wasn’t long before white working-class teenagers began emulating their rhythm-and-blues harmonies. The racial exchange of this distinctive genre and the social bonding it engendered have had a significant and lasting impact on American musical culture. In Forever Doo-Wop, John Runowicz traces the history of this music from its origins in nineteenth-century barbershop quartets through its emergence in the postwar era to its nostalgic adulthood from the mid-1960s to today. The book is based on interviews he has conducted and observations he has made over the last twenty-two years working as guitarist, musical director, and second tenor with one of the legendary doo-wop groups, the Cadillacs, on what is popularly known as the “oldies circuit.” As a graduate student, he broadened his research to include the wider doo-wop community. Forever Doo-Wop invites readers to gaze through a window on our society and culture where certain truths are revealed about how white and black Americans coexist and interact, about how popular music functions as a vehicle for nostalgia, and about the role of music making over a long lifetime.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. iii-v
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  1. CONTENTS
  2. p. vii
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  1. PREFACE
  2. pp. ix-xv
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  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  2. pp. xvii-xviii
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  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. CHAPTER 1. THE ROOTS OF VOCAL HARMONY
  2. pp. 23-39
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  1. CHAPTER 2. THE BIRTH OF DOO-WOP
  2. pp. 40-62
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  1. CHAPTER 3. SHORTCUT TO NOSTALGIA (includes illustrations)
  2. pp. 63-84
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  1. CHAPTER 4. THE DOO-WOP COMMUNITY
  2. pp. 85-108
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  1. CHAPTER 5. THE OLDIES CIRCUIT
  2. pp. 109-140
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  1. AFTERWORD. THE PERSISTENCE OF HARMONY
  2. pp. 141-147
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  1. NOTES
  2. pp. 149-173
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  1. INDEX
  2. pp. 175-190
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