Craig Werner takes us on a lively guided tour of American popular music over the past several decades, focusing on how this music reflects--and promises, in a certain sense, to heal--the enduring racial chasm in American life. It is funny, tragic, and always engaging. The writing is often brilliant and always to the point. This is probably the best book about American music that I have ever read. Werner does such an excellent job, not only writing about the music itself, which he does with remarkable clarity and intelligence, but in placing the music in the historical context from which it emerged. This would be a great book for 20th century American history courses, courses about the 1960s, courses about African American history and culture. This is a book about the soundtrack of our lives, and how it speaks to the lasting dilemmas of race.
I really enjoyed the richness of the book.it covers so-many styles and History.it is very well written book.it covers alot of bases.The Different time frames and their Impact.My Only dig is that Music Writers don't acknowledge Michael Jackson enough.face The Music who has had his kind of Impact over the Last 20-30 years?also he didn't really cover the title in depth but i understand.still a must Read.
Talk about a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the popular music literature out there seems to fall into two camps. The first populates journalism school dropouts who, because of their love for the music, feel the need to share their passion with the whole wide world. Their writings are usually superficial and they're the crowd Dylan complained about when he said (paraphrase), "they're a bunch of 40 year olds writing for a bunch of 10 year olds." The other group is made up of academics who, though often having brilliant insights, are more often impenetrable to the masses of popular music listeners. Indeed, this ilk is just as likely to write *about* listeners rather than for them. Craig Werner skillfully accomplishes what only a handful have done before him: marrying the insights of a well read, thoughtful academic with a down-to-earth (way far away from any ivory tower), yet passionate style of writing. Using the "calls" and "responses" found in black music (and communities) and the "impulses" of gospel, blues and jazz, Werner seamlessly connects such varied artists as Mahalia Jackson, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy, Madonna, Prince, Duke Ellington, Ani Difranco, and seemingly hundreds more. Though the "huh?" factor may be high at times (the jazz impulse includes Neil Young's "Arc"), through fresh, direct insights an "oh yeah" factor always neutralizes it (usually within a page or two). The subtitle of the book suggests this is an explanation of "music, race and the soul of America." Well, it's not. This is merely Werner's "response," based on the many "calls" he writes of in his book. This is now my "response" to Werner's "call" - Wow, you gotta read this book.