I Don't Sound Like Nobody: Remaking Music in 1950s America

University of Michigan Press
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"In Albin J. Zak III's highly original study, phonograph records are not just the medium for disseminating songs but musical works unto themselves. Fashioned from a mix of copyright law, recording studios and techniques, the talent of musicians and disc jockeys, the ingenuity and avarice of producers, and the appetites of record buyers, the all-powerful marketplace Zak describes is an unruly zone where music of, by, and for the people is made and anointed."
---Richard Crawford, author of America's Musical Life: A History



"Wrestling clarity from the exuberant chaos of early rock 'n' roll, Albin Zak's I Don't Sound Like Nobody redefines our understanding of the record in the shaping of the post– World War II soundscape. Zak tracks the story which extends from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra through Elvis and Buddy Holly to the Beatles and Bob Dylan with excursions into dozens of lesser known, but crucial, players in a game with few established rules. A crucial addition to the bookshelf."
---Craig Werner, author of A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America



"I Don't Sound Like Nobody is a superb account of the transformation of American popular music in the 1950s. Albin Zak insightfully explores what recording actually means in terms of the process of making and consuming music. His discussion of the legal, aesthetic, and industrial ramifications of changes in the recording process over the course of the 1950s will make popular music scholars and record collectors reconsider what they think they know about the period."
---Rob Bowman, author of Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records



"Informative, original, and entertaining. Through a narrative that is not only enlightening but also compelling, I Don't Sound Like Nobody probes the sources and mechanisms of change within post-war American popular music, shedding a cultural and historical light on the convergence of musical idioms that created '50s rock and roll."
---Stan Hawkins, author of Settling the Pop Score



"From the birth of the record industry through the legacy of Presley, the development of rock and roll, and the Beatles 'stunning arrival on the world's stage,' Albin Zak takes us on a journey of exceptional scholarship. The breadth of coverage and deep examination of recordings and repertoire reveal the author's reverence and sensitivity to the many dimensions and origins of this complex musical soundscape."
---William Moylan, author of Understanding and Crafting the Mix: The Art of Recording



The 1950s marked a radical transformation in American popular music as the nation drifted away from its love affair with big band swing to embrace the unschooled and unruly new sounds of rock 'n' roll.



The sudden flood of records from the margins of the music industry left impressions on the pop soundscape that would eventually reshape long-established listening habits and expectations, as well as conventions of songwriting, performance, and recording. When Elvis Presley claimed, "I don't sound like nobody," a year before he made his first commercial record, he unwittingly articulated the era's musical Zeitgeist.



The central story line of I Don't Sound Like Nobody is change itself. The book's characters include not just performers but engineers, producers, songwriters, label owners, radio personalities, and fans---all of them key players in the decade's musical transformation.



Written in engaging, accessible prose, Albin Zak's I Don't Sound Like Nobody approaches musical and historical issues of the 1950s through the lens of recordings and fashions a compelling story of the birth of a new musical language. The book belongs on the shelf of every modern music aficionado and every scholar of rock 'n' roll.





Albin J. Zak III is Professor of Music at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the editor of The Velvet Underground Companion and the author of The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records, a groundbreaking study of rock music production. Zak is also a record producer, songwriter, singer, and guitarist.



Jacket design by Paula Newcomb



Jacket photograph © Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos

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About the author

Albin J. Zak III is Professor of Music at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the editor of The Velvet Underground Companion and the author of The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records, a groundbreaking study of rock music production. Zak is also a record producer, songwriter, singer, and guitarist.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Michigan Press
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Published on
Sep 29, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780472024544
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / General
Music / Genres & Styles / Rock
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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After a hundred years of recording, the process of making records is still mysterious to most people who listen to them. Records hold a fundamental place in the dynamics of modern musical life, but what do they represent? Are they documents? Snapshots? Artworks? Fetishes? Commodities? Conveniences? The Poetics of Rock is a fascinating exploration of recording consciousness and compositional process from the perspective of those who make records. In it, Albin Zak examines the crucial roles played by recording technologies in the construction of rock music and shows how songwriters, musicians, engineers, and producers contribute to the creative project, and how they all leave their mark on the finished work.

Zak shapes an image of the compositional milieu by exploring its elements and discussing the issues and concerns faced by artists. Using their testimony to illuminate the nature of record making and of records themselves, he shows that the art of making rock records is a collaborative compositional process that includes many skills and sensibilities not traditionally associated with musical composition. Zak connects all the topics--whether technical, conceptual, aesthetic, or historical--with specific artists and recordings and illustrates them with citations from artists and with musical examples. In lively and engaging prose, The Poetics of Rock brilliantly illustrates how the musical energy from a moment of human expression translates into a musical work wrought in sound.
An intimate memoir of the flamboyant Queen singer by the man who knew him best.

Peter Freestone was Freddie Mercury’s Personal Assistant for the last 12 years of his life. He lived with Mercury in London, Munich and New York, and he was with him when he died.
In this book, the most intimate account of Mercury’s life ever written, he reveals the truth behind the scandalous rumours, the outrageous lifestyle and Mercury’s relationships with men, women and the other members of Queen.
From the famous names – including Elton John, Kenny Everett, Elizabeth Taylor and Rod Stewart – to the shadowy army of lovers, fixers and hangers-on, Peter Freestone saw them all play their part in the tragi-comedy that was Freddie Mercury’s life.
Freestone lived with Mercury in Europe and America for over a decade. From the East 50s apartment in New York to Kensington Lodge, the house in London where Mercury died – not to mention innumerable international hotel rooms and apartments in between – Freestone was always on hand to serve and protect the man he had first met in the Biba department store in the early 1970s. Then Queen was a largely unknown band. Soon it would be the most glitzy of glam rock bands. Freestone saw the fame arrive and with it the generosity, the excess, and the celebrity friends who came and went.
“I was chief cook and bottle washer, waiter, butler, valet, secretary, amanuensis, cleaner, baby-sitter… and agony aunt,” he writes. “I shopped for him both at supermarkets and art markets, I travelled the world with him, I was with him at the highs and came through the lows with him. I saw the creative juices flow and I also saw the frustration when life wasn’t going well. I acted as his bodyguard when needed and in the end, of course, I was one of his nurses.”
Freestone’s bet-selling account of a talented and extravagant star’s life and death is compelling, entertaining and ultimately, very touching.
Illustrated with many photos from personal and Freestone’s own archives.
Press Reviews“An entertaining and thought provoking read” – PRS for Music Sales
“This collection of Freddie’s own words is the closest thing there is to an autobiography of a man with no regrets. The foreword is written by his mother” – reFRESH magazine, Leading Gay mag in the UK


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