During the 1930s, swing bands combined jazz and popular music to create large-scale dreams for the Depression generation, capturing the imagination of America's young people, music critics, and the music business. Swingin' the Dream explores that world, looking at the racial mixing-up and musical swinging-out that shook the nation and has kept people dancing ever since.
"Swingin' the Dream is an intelligent, provocative study of the big band era, chiefly during its golden hours in the 1930s; not merely does Lewis A. Erenberg give the music its full due, but he places it in a larger context and makes, for the most part, a plausible case for its importance."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
"An absorbing read for fans and an insightful view of the impact of an important homegrown art form."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] fascinating celebration of the decade or so in which American popular music basked in the sunlight of a seemingly endless high noon."—Tony Russell, Times Literary Supplement
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Erenberg (History/Loyola Univ.) picks up the history of American popular culture where he left off at the end of his previous book, Steppin' Out: NY Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture (not reviewed). From the middle of the 1930s through the early years of the postwar period, the so-called swing era, American popular music was dominated by the sound of the big bands, both jazz bands and ``sweet'' bands. For the first time in the history of American popular culture, African-American forms came to the fore, and the success of big-band jazz made it possible, albeit with considerable difficulty, for some musicians to push a pioneering racial integration on the bandstand and even in the audience. At the same time, Erenberg argues, swing helped revive a potentially moribund youth culture, verdant in the '20s but battered by the economic realities of the Depression. A combination of forces, particularly the repeal of Prohibition and the rise of radio, made the brief triumph of swing possible. And a brief triumph it wasthe war and the social forces it unleashed, the Red scare of the postWW II era and a series of rapid socioeconomic changes doomed the big bands. This story has been told many times before, and Erenberg does make some significant contributions to enriching the picture, most notably in his occasional focus on audience reaction and participation. But overall this is a disconnected and often repetitive collection of essays. Moreover, the book is marred by numerous errors, such as attributing ``Bidin' My Time'' to Hoagy Carmichael. The most egregious error, however, points up the major source of its failure. Erenberg repeats the tale that Bessie Smith ``died as a result of segregation in medical facilities.'' Recent scholarship has disproved this version. A perusal of his footnotes reveals that while Erenberg is knowledgeable in his own academic field, he has failed to keep up with the literature of jazz. A disappointing and, frankly, rather dully written effort. (32 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
In many ways, the swing era of the 1930s and 1940s ignited a cultural revolution more significant than the celebrated transformations of the 1960s. Erenberg concentrates on the social and political forces that the great swing bands and much of their audience embodied. Instead of practicing musical analysis (fine sources of that are cited in his notes), he considers how such bandleaders as Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Artie Shaw were crucial in breaking down racial stereotypes, heralding integration, and championing American folk culture. Erenberg also spiritedly surveys how a cross section of the American population responded to these musicians. The fans' enthusiasm for popular music helped build the youth culture still active today, and radio stations and publications arose at this time to nurture that culture, a development Erenberg treats humorously as well as informatively. Today's fans and jazz writers may find themselves longing for the days when, Erenberg says, Down Beat critics displayed "a nonsectarian leftist populism that fit with the magazine's screwball democratic ethos." Aaron Cohen
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Book Description University of Chicago Press, U.S.A., 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. NEW. Bookseller Inventory # 16OCT3102
Book Description University of Chicago Press, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: new. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000055001
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Book Description Univ of Chicago Pr, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. First edition, first printing. Condition new, DJ as new. No markings of any kind. 8vo, 320 pages, notes, index. Not clipped. Not a reminder. Bookseller Inventory # 004491
Book Description University of Chicago Press, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0226215164
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