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We All Want to Change the World: Rock and Politics from Elvis to Eminem Hardcover – September 24, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Waldman (Best Guide to American Politics) intends to provide "a look at the sometimes contentious, often opportunistic and constantly intertwined history of rock and politics from the release of `Rock Around the Clock' in 1954 through the 2000 presidential campaign." However, the project as he conceives it is too large. While his left-liberal intentions seem sincere and Waldman presents a lot of details, his summary and analysis of rock history is superficial. The writing style combines generalizations that are straight out of a generic history textbook ("John Lennon is the political iconoclast of late 1960s rock") with a few intriguing observations that he never really develops ("American Bandstand is the first and the best-known counterexample to the notion that only cool people-by their own definition-are in command of rock and roll"). Unfortunately, Waldman never really discusses much actual rock in detail, other than as it may reflect obvious historic events such as the Vietnam War or the election of Ronald Reagan. Perhaps this is because, by his own admission, it took until "the middle of 1967" for him to "admit that the Beatles were the better group on record" than the Monkees.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Waldman believes that any question of appropriateness as it relates to music and politics usually comes from 'people who don't agree with it. When they agree, there's no question.' (Kevin Johnson Sltoday - Entertainment)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition (September 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589790197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589790193
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
We All Want To Change The World is an original look by author and journalist Tom Waldman at the unique interplay between rock-n-roll music and American politics over the past 50 years, ranging from rock's involvement in the Vietnam antiwar movement, to modern day rock utilized as a electorial tool by politicians. An astutely researched history and a seminal study, Waldman draws from his experiences as a press secretary in service to California Congresswoman Howard Berman from 1992 to 1999, as well as his own independent and original research. We All Want To Change The World is unusual and very highly recommended reading for non-specialist general readers with an interest in learning about the social (and political!) history of rock music in American history and culture.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Santos on December 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You can not have a book about rock and Politics without including the political bands of the late '70's and early '80's.
Especially of note were the Gang of Four, probably the most political band of its time. Another band that also is not mentioned are The Dead Kennedy's, a band with radical politics and lyrics. These are just two of many bands that had solid political insights and used them to produce some of the most political music ever heard. It's quite a shame really, if the author had retitled his book to be be "Mainstream Rock and Politics" then maybe he could act as if these other musicians never existed.
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