Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman's American Popular Music (2008) PDF

By Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman

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There were country crooners, who specialized in a smooth, pop-oriented style; bluegrass musicians, who focused on the adaptation of traditional southern music in a package suitable to the times; and honkytonk musicians, who performed in a hard-edged, electronically amplified style, and wrote songs about the trials and tribulations of migrants to the city and about gender roles and male/female relationships during a period of intense social change. While some musicians sought to move country music onto the mainstream pop charts, others reached back into the musical traditions of the American South, refurbishing old styles to fit new circumstances.

However, the old Delta blues style didn’t really die out; it emerged in a reinvigorated, electronically amplified Chicago Electric Blues A very different urban blues tradition of the postwar era, Chicago electric blues, derived more directly from the Mississippi Delta tradition of Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. Chicago was the terminus of the Illinois Central railroad line, which ran up through the Midwest from the Mississippi Delta. Although Chicago’s black neighborhoods were well established before World War II, they grew particularly rapidly during the 1940s, as millions of rural migrants came north in search of employment in the city’s industrial plants, railroad shops, and slaughterhouses.

The emergence of rock ’n’ roll was an event of great cultural significance. But several issues demand our attention: first, rock ’n’ roll was neither a “new,” nor indeed even a single musical style ; second, the rock ’n’ roll era does not mark the first time that music was written specifically to appeal to young people; third, rock ’n’ roll was certainly not the first American music to fuse black and white popular styles. The new audience was dominated by the so-called baby boom generation born immediately following World War II.

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