Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977

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Touchstone, Sep 19, 2000 - Music - 416 pages
A prizewinning historian and journalist who has covered the pop music scene for more than three decades, James Miller brings a powerful and challenging intellectual perspective to his recounting of some key turning points in the history of rock. Arguing that the music underwent its full creative evolution in little more than twenty-five years, he traces its roots from the jump blues of the forties to the disc jockeys who broadcast the music in the early fifties. He shows how impresarios such as Alan Freed and movie directors such as Richard Brooks (of Blackboard Jungle) joined black music to white fantasies of romance and rebellion, and then mass-marketed the product to teenagers. He describes how rock matured as a form of music, from Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Marvin Gaye, defining a decade of rebellious ferment. At the same time, he candidly recounts how trendsetting rock acts from Jim Morrison and the Doors in the late sixties to the Sex Pistols in the late seventies became ever more crude, outrageous, and ugly -- "as if to mark," writes Miller, "the triumph of the psychopathic adolescent."
Richly anecdotal and always provocative, Flowers in the Dustbin tells the story of rock and roll as it has never been told before.

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User Review  - James Carmichael - Goodreads

Much better written than most rock/pop hagiographies; picks an emblematic moment in each step in the progression of rock and elucidates it with a brief (3-7 page) essay. Terrific. Read full review

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About the author (2000)

James Miller is professor of political science and director of liberal studies at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. A Guggenheim Fellow and twice a winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, he has covered the rock scene for national publications since 1967, when one of his early record reviews appeared in the third issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Since then, his reviews, profiles, and essays on music have appeared in New Times, The New Republic, The New York Times, and Newsweek, where he was a book reviewer and pop music critic between 1981 and 1990. The original editor of The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (which first appeared in 1976), he also contributed an essay on his favorite rock album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes (1964), to an anthology edited by Greil Marcus, Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (1979). He is the author of four previous books: The Passion of Michel Foucault (1993), an interpretive essay on the life of the French philosopher, a National Book Critics Circle Finalist for General Nonfiction; "Democracy Is in the Streets": From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (1987), an account of the American student movement of the 1960s, also a National Book Critics Circle Finalist for General Nonfiction; Rousseau: Dreamer of Democracy (1984), a study of the origins of modern democracy; and History and Human Existence -- From Marx to Merleau-Ponty (1979), an analysis of Marx and the French existentialists. A native of Chicago educated at Pomona College and Brandeis University, where he received a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas, he lives with his wife and three sons in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

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