As with its two preceding companions, America’s Songs III highlights the most important songs of each year with separate entries. More than 300 songs are analyzed in terms of importance—both musically and historically—and weighted by how they defined an era, an artist, a genre, or an underground movement. Written by known rock historian and former ASCAP award winner Bruce Pollock, America’s Songs III: Rock! relays the stories behind America’s musical history.
Beginning the journey in the era of Victorian parlor balladry, brass bands, and ragtime with the advent of the record industry, readers witness the birth of the blues and the dawn of jazz in the 1910s and the emergence of country music on record and the shift from acoustic to electrical recording in the 1920s. The odyssey continues through the Swing Era of the 1930s; rhythm & blues, bluegrass, and bebop in the 1940s; the rock & roll revolution of the 1950s; modern soul, the British invasion, and the folk-rock movement of the 1960s; and finally into the modern era through the musical streams of disco, punk, grunge, hip-hop, and contemporary dance-pop. Sullivan, however, also takes critical detours by extending the coverage to genres neglected in pop music histories, from ethnic and world music, the gospel recording of both black and white artists, and lesser-known traditional folk tunes that reach back hundreds of years.
This book is ideal for anyone who truly loves popular music in all of its glorious variety, and anyone wishing to learn more about the roots of virtually all the music we hear today. Popular music fans, as well as scholars of recording history and technology and students of the intersections between music and cultural history will all find this book to be informative and interesting.
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Motown cuts through decades of unsubstantiated rumors and speculation to tell the true behind-the-scenes narrative of America’s most exciting musical dynasty. It follows the company and its amazing roster of stars from the tumultuous growth years in Detroit, to the drama and intrigue of Hollywood in the 1970s, to resurgence in 2002.
Set against the civil rights movement, the decay of America’s northern industrial cities, and the social upheaval of the 1960s, Motown is a tale of the incredible entrepreneurship of Berry Gordy. But it also features the moving stories of kids from Detroit’s inner-city projects who achieved remarkable success and then, in many cases, found themselves fighting the demons that so often come with stardom—drugs, jealousy, sexual indulgence, greed, and uncontrollable ambition.
Motown features an extraordinary cast of characters, including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Stevie Wonder. They are presented as they lived and worked: a clan of friends, lovers, competitors, and sometimes vicious foes. Motown reveals how the hopes and dreams of each affected the lives of the others and illustrates why this singular story is a made-in-America Greek tragedy, the rise and fall of a supremely talented yet completely dysfunctional extended family.
Based on numerous original interviews and extensive documentation, Motown benefits particularly from the thousands of pages of files crammed into the basement of downtown Detroit’s Wayne County Courthouse. Those court records provide the unofficial—and hitherto largely untold—history of Motown and its stars, since almost every relationship between departing singers, songwriters, producers, and the label ended up in litigation.
From its peaks in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Motown controlled the pop charts and its stars were sought after even by the Beatles, through the inexorable slide caused by their failure to handle their stardom, Motown is a riveting and troubling look inside a music label that provided the unofficial soundtrack to an entire generation.
From the Hardcover edition.
Recording sessions with Elvis Presley, the Gentrys, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, the Box Tops, Joe Tex, Neil Diamond, B. J. Thomas, Dionne Warwick, and many others come alive in this book. Jones provides the stories behind memorable songs composed by group writers, such as “The Letter,” “Dark End of the Street,” “Do Right Woman,” “Breakfast in Bed,” and “You Were Always on My Mind.” Featuring photographs, personal profiles, and a suggested listening section, Memphis Boys details a significant phase of American music and the impact of one studio.