American Popular Music
New Approaches to the Twentieth Century
A valuable primer on the major currents of American music
Designed as a broad introductory survey, and written by experts in the field, this book examines the rise of American music over the past hundred years — the period in which that music came into its own and achieved unprecedented popularity. Beginning with a look at music as a business, eleven essays explore a variety of popular musical genres, including Tin Pan Alley, blues, jazz, country, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, folk, rap, and Mexican American corridos. Reading these essays, we come to see that the forms created by one group often appeal to, and are in turn influenced by, other groups — across lines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region, and age. The chapters speak to one another, arguing for the primacy of such concepts as minstrelsy, urbanization, hybridity, and crossover as the most powerful tools for understanding American popular music. Moving beyond outdated music-industry categories and misleading genre labels, while acknowledging the complexities of the market, the book recovers and reinforces the essential blackness of much popular music—even a presumably white form like country and western. In addition to Rachel Rubin and Jeffrey Melnick, contributors include Reebee Garofalo, Geoffrey Jacques, Kip Lornell, Mark Anthony Neal, Millie Rahn, David Sanjek, James Smethurst, Elijah Wald, and Gail Hilson Woldu.
"American Popular Music is an important contribution. . . . There is no volume of this breadth currently available. It will be an invaluable research, reference, and teaching tool that I will use in my own courses and writing."—Farah Jasmine Griffin, University of Pennsylvania
"This is a fine, eclectic group of original essays. . . . The writing is good; the book is readable. This volume will be quite useful in courses on American popular music, American studies, and American history."—Barbara Tischler, author of An American Music:
The Search for an American Musical Identity