In the 1930's America was experiencing it's most trying economic downtown. Fully 25% of the population was out of work at the peak of the Great Depression and most of those who were lucky enough to be employed were living from paycheck to paycheck. Surely, the sad state of this nation's economy would have to qualify as the major story of that decade. Yet, while it may not have been all that evident at the time there were a myriad of important social and cultural changes taking place in this country in the 1930's. The relatively new medium of radio was hitting it's stride. Radios were affordable and could be found in nearly every home. Motion pictures were no longer silent and the "swing" era was upon us. Great songwriters like Jerome Kern, Rogers and Hart, George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin were busy creating memorable tunes that would one day fill the Great American Songbook. And for the first time ever the music of talented black artists like Fats Waller and Duke Ellington was being heard by white America. Sounds exciting doesn't it? In "Music of the Great Depression (American History Through Music)" co-authors William H. Young and Nancy K. Young bring these and other 1930's social and cultural trends to life. This is an informative and fascinating walk down memory lane.
As a reference book, "Music of the Great Depression" succeeds on every level. This book is just packed with all kinds of useful information for those seeking to do research on this period. But what makes this book so unique is that it is also a terrific cover to cover read at the same time. In fact, I am not sure I have ever come across anything quite like it. In addition, the authors take the time to discuss some of the less popular musical genres of the era such as folk, gospel, western swing and the blues. The fact of the matter is I simply did not want to put this book down. As someone who has been a student of American popular music for several decades I must tell you that I found a tremendous amount of new and useful information in this book. My hats off to the authors for a truly phenomenal job. In my opinion, "Music of the Great Depression (American History Through Music)" deserves a spot in every library in America. It is that good. Very highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Description:Prior to the stock market crash of 1929 American music still possessed a distinct tendency towards elitism, as songwriters and composers sought to avoid the mass appeal that critics scorned. During the Depression, however, radio came to dominate the other musical media of the time, and a new era of truly popular music was born. Under the guidance of the great Duke Ellington and a number of other talented and charismatic performers, swing music unified the public consciousness like no other musical form before or since. At the same time the enduring legacies of Woody Guthrie in folk, Aaron Copeland in classical, and George and Ira Gershwin on Broadway stand as a testament to the great diversity of tastes and interests that subsisted throughout the Great Depression, and play a part still in our lives today. The lives of these and many other great musicians come alive in this insightful study of the works, artists, and circumstances that contributed to making and performing the music that helped America through one of its most difficult times.The American History through Music series examines the many different styles of music that have played a significant part in our nation's history. While volumes in this series show the multifaceted roles of music in our culture, they also use music as a lens through which readers may study American social history. The authors present in-depth analysis of American musical genres, significant musicians, technological ...