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How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music By Elijah Wald,

  • Title: How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music
  • Author: Elijah Wald
  • ISBN: 9780195341546
  • Page: 221
  • Format: Hardcover
  • There are no definitive histories, writes Elijah Wald, in this provocative reassessment of American popular music, because the past keeps looking different as the present changes Earlier musical styles sound different to us today because we hear them through the musical filter of other styles that came after them, all the way through funk and hip hop As its blasphemo There are no definitive histories, writes Elijah Wald, in this provocative reassessment of American popular music, because the past keeps looking different as the present changes Earlier musical styles sound different to us today because we hear them through the musical filter of other styles that came after them, all the way through funk and hip hop As its blasphemous title suggests, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll rejects the conventional pieties of mainstream jazz and rock history Rather than concentrating on those traditionally favored styles, the book traces the evolution of popular music through developing tastes, trends and technologies including the role of records, radio, jukeboxes and television to give a fuller, balanced account of the broad variety of music that captivated listeners over the course of the twentieth century Wald revisits original sources recordings, period articles, memoirs, and interviews to highlight how music was actually heard and experienced over the years And in a refreshing departure from typical histories, he focuses on the world of working musicians and ordinary listeners rather than stars and specialists He looks for example at the evolution of jazz as dance music, and rock n roll through the eyes of the screaming, twisting teenage girls who made up the bulk of its early audience Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and the Beatles are all here, but Wald also discusses less familiar names like Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo, Mitch Miller, Jo Stafford, Frankie Avalon, and the Shirelles, who in some cases were far popular than those bright stars we all know today, and who accurately represent the mainstream of their times Written with verve and style, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll shakes up our staid notions of music history and helps us hear American popular music with new ears.
    How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll An Alternative History of American Popular Music There are no definitive histories writes Elijah Wald in this provocative reassessment of American popular music because the past keeps looking different as the present changes Earlier musical style

    One thought on “How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music”

    1. Sure, the title is deliberately outrageous, something abrasive to catch the book buyer s attention, but I hope the strategy works because this history of popular music in the United States deserves a wide readership Wald begins with the self evident assumption that such a history should consist of what is popular, not just what music buffs decide is artistically worthy and representative He argues that it is women who drive popular taste in music because women fill clubs in order to dance, while [...]

    2. It s a long time coming but finally you get what this catchpenny title actually means Here we goThe rock revolution of the 60s, spearheaded by the Beatles, evolved rock roll into rock and turned it into a form of art as white musicians tried to do to jazz in the 20s In so doing, and whilst at the same time it embraced older forms of black music blues, country blues , rock distanced itself from contemporary black pop which was regarded as still based in teen angst teen dance forms Motown Up until [...]

    3. and I m about halfway through it I have to say that if you have any interest in popular music history, this book is an absolute must Although it s written in an acadmic style, it s also very readible, well documented, and pretty interesting.Essentially, the author s Elijah Wald position is that much of what we know about popular music is wrong, not so much in the sense of that it is an outright error but that the emphasis has been put in the wrong places Part of this is due to the nature of musi [...]

    4. I picked this book up for two reasons first, I think the Beatles suck and they should be blamed for everything we can possibly blame them for teen shrieking, botulism, anal warts, anyone second, Tom Waits loves this book despite his own exclusion.Now, the alarmism that the title might engender is shifty, at best and the title misleading Wald likes the Beatles and he isn t so much laying the blame for the collapse of a pretty interesting state of American music in the early mid 1960s on the band [...]

    5. First of all, kudos for the ballsy, if somewhat tongue in cheek title I probably wouldn t have picked up this alternative history of American popular music , as the slightly accurate subtitle labels it, if the book had been called something else There s a lot of very interesting discussion of trends in music composition, recording, consumption, and evolution in here, and although the book drags a bit in the middle when it s documenting a lot of obscure performers in obscure styles, its core the [...]

    6. You can and should ignore the silly and sensationalist title The Beatles only come into the picture towards the very end of the book, and as a culmination of forces that had already been at play for decades rather than something new in of themselves.This book is far richer and nuanced than the title lets on It covers an astonishing range of musical artists and genres and comes closer to avoiding the condescension of posterity than just about any other musical history I ve read Wald is happy to [...]

    7. I fear this review may turn into a lengthy diatribe on copyright regime change and music industry business models, so I ll begin with an abstract of what I m thinking about before bloviating.First, Wald s written a bang up, fantastic, fascinating book that surveys the history and evolution of pop music from John Philip Sousa to 1967 He or less stops with Sgt Pepper, excusing himself on the grounds that The time has come to turn off my computer, get up from my desk, and go out and play some musi [...]

    8. This book was a very interesting read, and I covered a lot of the topics that it mentioned through my status updates Having finished the book, for those of you that are curious about the title and its premise and want a in depth explanation than I offer without reading the whole book I d recommend reading the last chapter and the epilogue, both sum up the explanation of the title rather well.All of that having been said, it would be accurate for the title and the subtitle to be switched An Alt [...]

    9. Blasphemy How dare a rock critic speak ill of the Fab Four Short answer Calm down, he doesn t Regardless of a title that s clearly manufactured controversy, he does have a point though A long answer will involve reading the book, though.Basically, Wald contends that the Beatles and their contemporaries destroyed rock and roll as it was thought of in the early days by turning it into an art form, much in the same way jazz was years after it s heyday as a popular form of dance music He spends the [...]

    10. If, like me, you re a fan of rock music and you ever wondered why there s so few non white people in rock bands, this book is for you.Wald traces a fascinating alternative history of American pop music, from its beginnings to the 60s, to explain what changed in 1964 that than ever segregated pop into black dance and white art musics When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, it was the last time a live performance changed the course of American music, and when they became purely a recor [...]

    11. This is probably the best big picture book I ve read on the history of American popular music in the 20th century It s certainly written from an angle I ve never seen in similar books, but it actually captures what I miss most now that regular radio has genre d music to death and if you listen to a regular radio station because you have no other choice, all you hear is a very narrow definition of what whoever decided this believes fits into that genre and nothing else.Like everything else in soc [...]

    12. History may repeat but historians repeat other historians, says Elijah Wald The history of American pop music was written by music snobs, political ax grinders, and wall flowers, so Wald goes back checks what people were really listening to in the various eras a lot of crowd pleasing dance music, it turns out Having just read this book a third time I finally feel like I understand the big picture prior to the triumph of recorded music and solo dancing The Twist musicians had to play often to ear [...]

    13. On my very small shelf of exceptional surveys of 20th Century music, next to Nelson George s The Death of Rhythm and Blues and everything by Arnold Shaw Wald offers a genuinely revisionist and genuinely convincing history of popular music, and is always readable,I might have wished he d given it a different title.

    14. Okaaaaay.n t the title say it all Except, it turns out, the book is an EXCELLENT coverage of popular music in the U.S for approximately 100 years through the early 1970 s The author does a great job of taking the reader back to the time and place ex the styles affected by his uncle and his father in the 1920 s using a very encompassing tone My greatest take away That music has always had an overlap in the various generations, and the dollars being spent were often the income of the older generat [...]

    15. Takes a while to get on to the thrust of the main argument but this book is an pretty comprehensive history of the modern popular music.

    16. It took me a while to get past the misleading title the Beatles do not show up until page 230 of this 255 page book and realize that this book is really about its subtitle an alternative history of American popular music I seriously felt duped and somewhat put off by an author who wanted to sell books by putting an eye catching but misleading title in bold black letters on the dust cover of his book In the spirit of truth in titling and eye catching hyperbole, Wald might have better titled this [...]

    17. In spite of a very provocative title, this book isn t a criticism of the Beatles In fact, other than the introduction and the last chapter, there isn t much said about them, and even then it s pretty thin and not likely to ruffle the feathers of any fans But then again, it s hard to imagine buyers selecting a book with a less interesting title like An Alternative History of American Popular Music Nonetheless, the title is bound to offend Beatle s fans and a lot of negative reviews will come from [...]

    18. Honestly, I ve never been a big fan of the Beatles Sure, I liked their pop oriented tunes when I was younger, but I ve never considered them as great of musical pioneers as everyone else seemed to think After reading this book, I now know that my opinions are justified.While this book never exactly states that the Beatles themselves led to the decline of rock and roll as a genre, Elijah Wald certainly does a lot to prove that they did However, he doesn t just passive aggressively hint at his op [...]

    19. Relax boomers this isn t the 300 page takedown of the Beatles that you re ready to hate What it is then, is a unique history of American popular music in the 20th century A sequel, of sorts, to Wald s Escaping the Delta.The argument in this case is that around 1965, music became segregated, with black performers continuing the traditional interest in dance music, while white performers became interested in art music designed for listening, not movement His claim is that this was to the detrime [...]

    20. Very good and interesting book It s my third book from Elijah Wald and it s always a pleasure to read him He has an enormous knowledge of the music he presents, he shows great passion about the music he discusses and he is clear and not academic, even if the subject can become academic like when names of singers and songs are given in certain amounts I still prefer his Narcocorrido A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas, maybe because I read it with lots of narcocorridos in my h [...]

    21. The music history books are written by critics, and as a result, the songs and artists that are collectively remembered as important from any given era are not necessarily representational of what was actually popular Wald argues this idea with a compelling series of chapters that look at the evolution of music through the eyes of the masses For example, he explains why the largely forgotten bandleader Paul Whiteman was actually The King of Jazz in the 20s and 30s, not a critical darling like Lo [...]

    22. Rarely has a book s title been misleading and done such a disservice to its own text.This is a very well researched history of popular music in the United States and separates what people were actually buying, dancing to and listening to throughout the 20th century actually from the 1890s until the mid 60s from what the critics and academics of today have retroactively deemed the most important and influential music and musicians Wald details how the development of popular music was driven by w [...]

    23. this was SO GOOD it was a really interesting history of american music and culture, and while my coworker complained that it was dense, i never found it dry or hard to follow was especially interesting to read it as an are mp3s the death of music as we know it debate was going on on tumblr, since the book clearly explains how we moved from sheet music to singles to albums and how everyone claimed it was the end of the world each time at the end of the day, music is a huge part of our culture and [...]

    24. The sensational title is what made me pick the book up, but don t let it fool you It s an alternative history of pop music that goes all the way back to the 1890s, before the phonograph, to when being a renown musician meant selling thousands of copies of sheet music Songs, not performers, were paramount, and even as recently as the 1950s, competing versions of the same song battled it out on the charts.The book, which is a tad dry and was difficult for me to finish, hence the 3 stars, carefully [...]

    25. The title sounds like it could be for one of those dopey, shiny, clearance aisle coffee table books that come with a dumb CD, and it doesn t really fit the tone of the book While certainly provocative, I think what sets Wald apart from the music historian pack is his clearheadedness His voice is witty and self effacing, but the book is finally a serious work, with thorough research and a balanced, nuanced perspective Which isn t to say it s not fun It is But I think a better title for it would b [...]

    26. This is an excellent and exhaustive history of American popular music of the 20th century Wald questions every assumption about popular music by going back to original sources to see what was really happening at the time each new trend in music came along.As Wald says, music history, unlike other history, is not written by the winners, but the losers Critics often celebrate bands that are not popular but innovative, The Beatles being the one glaring exception.Wald s insight is that although the [...]

    27. The central thesis of the book that pop music lost its bearings once the Beatles disassociated rock recordings from its dance performance origins seems unsupportable to me, but I liked much of the history in this book The author tracks the history of pop music in the 20th Century, focusing on how audiences shaped the formation of new genres and encouraged musicians to meld old and new forms The book is full of delightful bits of information I loved the sections about honky tonk and blues , which [...]

    28. Despite the title, this is NOT, in fact, a book about the Beatles It s not even completely about Rock n Roll What it is, is a very readable history of American pop music, from the 1890s to the late 60s.Aside from what I read in this book, I don t really know anything about music history, so don t know how solid his claims are There were a couple times when I found myself thinking surely there s an example that contradicts the statement you just made But I dunno Looking through the reviews for th [...]

    29. Just finished the book today It was provocative, and I learned from it I liked Wald s focus on the difference between music s critical acceptance and its popularity But there wasn t enough bite and partly the blame is the over the top title, and all the expectations it brought University presses might feel you need a sexy title to sell a non fic book sometimes it works Steven Johnson s Everything Bad is Good For You, though not a scholarly imprint , but in this case it falls flat Wald could have [...]

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