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The Story Behind the Song: 150 Songs that Chronicle the 20th Century Hardcover – January 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood (January 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313319766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313319761
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,765,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–Ten chapters, one devoted to each decade, contain brief overviews of major social, political, and musical events, followed by entries, from 1 to 4 pages long, on 15 representative songs. The lyrics are not included. Although each entry ends with information on where printed and recorded versions of the song can be found, students will have difficulty locating some of them. An extensive bibliography is included, but specific sources of particular facts are not noted. Some of the writing is confusing or unclear, as in this sentence: "More than 1 million people attended the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth in New York City at which Booker T. Washington was the keynote speaker…." Some entries have very little to say about the song under consideration. "Heartbreak Hotel" gives a synopsis of Elvis Presley's life and career, but says almost nothing about the lyrics or the composers. The list of research centers is heavily slanted toward one region of the U.S., listing two centers in Tennessee, one in Alabama, two in New Orleans, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The idea of following the history of the 20th century through its most significant music is a fascinating one; unfortunately, this book does not live up to the promise of the concept.–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

?[W]ill serve as a reference for less advanced readers and as a supplementary resource for reviewing popular music history for scholars....All levels.?-Choice

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Parker Buckles on August 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
For several weeks I kept "The Story Behind the Song" on the corner of my desk, turning to it intermittently when I sought information on the background of a particular composition. That's one way to enjoy this book. A better way is to approach it less as a reference volume and more as the concise and fascinating history of 20th-century moods and popular music that it is.

The book is organized by decades. Each chapter includes a two- to three-page overview of that decade along with accounts of 15 of the decade's best known songs. The accounts cover expected topics such as composers' inspirations, key performers and recordings, and current availability of the songs in printed form. But the authors have gone beyond mere reporting in the way they've woven these and other factors into brief, well crafted essay portraits of the various periods.

A good example can be seen in the way the composition "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" speaks for a particular moment in America's past. In telling the story behind this song authors Barnet, Nemerov, and Taylor convey (in just four paragraphs) both the optimistic mood of the county in early 1929, before the October stock market crash, and the personal cynicism of blues artist Bessie Smith. When she recorded "Nobody Knows You..." on May 15, 1929, she was telling the story of her own world weary stardom in a song that became her signature, the authors state, even as it "prophetically declared the end of good times."

The range of songs chosen for inclusion in each chapter is as surprising as the individual song accounts. In the 1940s, for instance, compositions as different as "In the Mood," "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," and "Some Enchanted Evening" are juxtaposed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Texas Bix Bender on March 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Divided by eras with chapter titles like: "Gin, Jazz, and Women's Rights," and "War, Watergate, and Disco," this book is fun to read and accurate to a T. I read it all the way through when I first got it, and have used it time and time again to check up on an artist or song. If it was important, the story is here. From: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," to "Brighten The Corner Where You Are," to "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out," to "Goodnight Irene," to "One O'clock Jump," and on through "Lovesick Blues," "Rocket 88," "American Pie," "Walk This Way," and forward/backward to "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow." If you like music, you need this book.
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By Paul Walberg on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a teacher and Music Director at St. Anne School, the largest private K-8 school in Orange County, California and a National Distinguished School, I highly recommend this book. I'm using it as a core curriculum item for grades 6th through 8th. The book is extremely well written, researched, and referenced in a way that makes it very easy to teach with a cross curriculum focus. History, culture, and music are easily referenced and intertwined. Most of the songs listed are easy to find on CDs or other sources and I play them in the classroom so the students can bring that part aurally to life. They not only learn about what was pertinent to students their age during earlier times, but what the children were listening to, why those songs were being written, and how that in turn relates to the contemporary music of today.
We are contemplating this book as a textbook for next year. This is a groundbreaking resource! Well done!
Paul Walberg
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By BbP on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book offers
a guide to 150 historically significant
songs that helped chronicle
----------------------------- the 20th century.

info
SONG TITLE-SONGWRITER and SUBJECT.

songs typically POPULAR AMERICAN MUSIC.

all songs are NOTEWORTHY...a nice book.

bp okc 64
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By Peggy Tooth on March 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We were disappointed in the condition of this used book. The first 68 pages were highlighted in yellow or orange.
I wish we had known. We would have paid more to get it without the highlights.
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