Very good sentences about music

Not all the experiments worked — even [Mitch] Miller granted that backing Dinah Shore with bagpipes was a mistake — but his imagination and eagerness to try new approaches would inspire generations of studio innovators.

That is from How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n; Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music, by Elijah Wald.

This excellent book explains the music of the 1940s and its import, how dance shaped American popular music, how women determine which musical innovations catch on, how Prohibition affected big bands, and many other topics of interest.

Did you know that in 1955 "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" became the fastest-selling song in American history?; over twenty different versions of the song were on the charts to drive this trend. 

There have been many new books lately on the history of American popular music but this is the one you should buy and read.


Just a matter of taste, of course, but I remember pop music before the Beatle, and it was dire. It had been ever since the end of the swing bands. Mark you, it's been pretty dire since the Beatles too.


Edward Burke, I disagree - none of the rock guitar virtuosos were heroin addicts when they were learning the guitar, only later when they'd already acquired the skills they needed, which they mostly did as pimply teens. But now that drugs are used a lot by teenagers it might explain why there are so few great rock musicians - they're too stoned as teens to get in the practice they need.

I think popular music was best in the 60s, 70s, and 00s.

This is one of the best books I've read all year. Really, the only potential flaw (okay, one tiny tweak I'd make aside) is the title: the Beatles, and for that matter, rock'n'roll, don't appear until the last part of the book. It's really an alternative history of American popular music, and its emergent theme is race. This is history that looks at its subject from the standpoint of those living at the time, not of modern narratives. Utterly brilliant. Five stars to Elijah Wald. Excellent capsule review, Tyler.

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