America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley

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Taylor & Francis, 2006 - Music - 328 pages
1 Review
The book analyzes American literature about middle or upper class characters who voluntarily descend the class ranks to experience "vital contact" by living or associating, temporarily, with the poor. The motivations of these characters--and historical figures such as John Reed and Walter Wyckoff--range from straightforward bohemian slumming among the "exotics" to more complex and psychologically wrought investigations of cross-class empathy. The study begins by charting downclasing processes in works of canonical nineteenth-century authors, including Melville, Hawthorne, James, Howells and Jewett. It then undertakes an original analysis of John Reed's involvement with the 1913 Paterson silk workers' strike as a context for understanding Ernest Poole's (now forgotten, but then best-selling) fictionalization of the strike in his novel, The Harbor. In other richly historicized chapters, it analyzes distillations of class radicalism in several works by Upton Sinclair, in the early drama of Eugene O'Neill, and in feminist novels of the 1910s by Elia Peattie and Clara Laughlin. The concluding chapter looks at sophisticated treatments of "vital contact" in fiction of the 1930s by Dos Passos, Steinbeck and Richard Wright. The book provides Americanists with important new ways of thinking about various forms of class identification as they developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  

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Review: America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley

User Review  - David - Goodreads

Furia goes through all the standards, providing anecdotes about each song's origins and a little analysis of what makes it special. Read full review

Contents

19101919
1
19201929
29
19301939
83
19401949
165
19501959
223
19601969
271
19701977
291
Bibliography
297
Index
305
Back cover
329
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Philip Furia is one of the best-known writers on popular music, having authored critical biographies of Johnny Mercer (2003), Irving Berlin (1998), and Ira Gershwin (1995), and the award-winning book Poets of Tin Pan Alley (1992). He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Michael Lasser is host of National Public Radio's "Fascinatin' Rhythm," a weekly program that focuses on the great American popular songs. It has been on the air since 1980, and was awarded a Peabody Award in 1995.

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