Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair with '50s Pop Music

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9781416584537: Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair with '50s Pop Music
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February 1964: The Beatles step onto the tarmac at JFK International Airport and turn the country on its head. It's the advent of rock and roll's uninterrupted reign, youthful rebellion, and overt teenage sex. It's also the deathblow for the pop music of another generation -- the songs of Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs -- and all its perky, white-bread conformity. Not two years later, Karen Schoemer is born, and comes of age with rock and roll. While her parents might enjoy the new music, the cultural upheaval passes them by, and they cling to the promises made by the music they loved as teenagers, the sweet, innocent 1950s pop of Patti Page, Frankie Laine, and the like. But having courted and wed against a backdrop of ideals peddled by this music -- finding true love, living happily ever after -- Schoemer's parents, like so many people, are crushed by disappointment when love doesn't deliver what the songs promised. Fifties pop falls quickly off the charts; their marriage eventually falls apart. In Great Pretenders, a lively, provocative blend of memoir and music criticism, former Newsweek pop music critic Karen Schoemer tries to figure out what went so wrong, way back in the hazy past, for her parents' marriage and for the music of their youth. To find the answers, she embarks on a strange, lonely journey in search of some of the brightest stars of the 1950s. Schoemer's search started when, twenty years after her parents' divorce, the new Connie Francis box set appeared on her desk at Newsweek. Now a successful rock critic dispensing post-punk opinions to the hipoisie, she was about to toss aside this relic when she was struck by the cover image of Francis, which bore an uncanny resemblance to her own mother; on a whim, she played one of the CDs. For all their cloying, simplistic sentimentality, songs like "Where the Boys Are" had an undeniable power -- "the sound of every teenage girl in every bedroom on every lonely Saturday going back a thousand years." It was the music of her parents' long-lost adolescence, and much to her surprise, it moved her. Thus Schoemer, arbiter of Gen X cool, found herself falling into the saccharine thrall of 1950s pop music, that pariah of the rock establishment. Even as her colleagues tried to steer her away from the terminally uncool genre, she tracked down seven former pop idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s: Connie Francis, Fabian, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Tommy Sands, Georgia Gibbs, and Frankie Laine. As she became privy to their inner lives and immersed herself in their music, Schoemer revised her own notions about the fifties at the same time that she explored her family's vexed dynamic. The result is a wonderful romp through an unappreciated chapter in music history and, more important, through her own past. Full of humor, insight, and unflinching honesty, Great Pretenders bucks the received wisdom, explores the intersections of our private lives and pop culture, and broadens our understanding of a crucial moment in our history.

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About the Author:

Karen Schoemer has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Blender, and other publications. Her writing has appeared in the anthologies Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap; Trouble Girls: The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock; Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000; and Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and daughter.

Review:

"Music is a medium of memory. And in recounting how radio and records shaped the soundtrack of her own life, Karen Schoemer, a dreamweaver extraordinaire, proves that whether it's '50s pop or '60s rock, the common thread that joins them is the overwhelming desire to experience an emotional connection. That's something the heroes of the Woodstock generation had learned from Elvis, yes, but also from Connie Francis, Frankie Laine, and even Fabian. Schoemer has the guts to say it, in a smart blend of memoir and music history." -- Alanna Nash, author of "The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley"

"Leave it to Karen Schoemer to dig into the much-maligned era of pre-Beatles pop and emerge with a happy/sad personal masterpiece. Within these great portraits of misunderstood '50s icons is the hilarious and soulful account of Schoemer's own coming of age. "Great Pretenders" is a concoction worthy of her own grand rock-and-roll addiction -- it's a record you can't get out of your head." -- Cameron Crowe, writer-director

"No critic in her right mind would write a book in 2005 about an era long consigned to the dustbin of musical history, 1950s American Pop: the limp puppy love, brylcreemed wasteland before music mattered. But as Schoemer heads through the looking glass, she finds that nothing -- the music, the musicians, even her family -- is as it first appeared. The unexpected delight of "Great Pretenders" will have you flipping through the vintage vinyl, and the pages of your family photo album, with a new perspective. It may even make you listen to the music -- no mean feat." -- John Wesley Harding

"Schoemer is a plucky narrator; she has written an enjoyable text that alternates between beguiling interview set pieces imbued with the author's lucid socio-musical analyses of such curious hits as 'Mule Train' and musings on her middle-class, suburban Connecticut upbringing in the 1970s and '80s, and development from rock critic to "Rolling Stone" scribe, wife and mother." -- "Publishers Weekly"

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780743272469: Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair with '50s Pop Music

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ISBN 10:  0743272463 ISBN 13:  9780743272469
Publisher: Free Press, 2006
Hardcover

9780786287123: Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair With '50s Pop Music

Thornd..., 2006
Hardcover

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. February 1964: The Beatles step onto the tarmac at JFK International Airport and turn the country on its head. It s the advent of rock and roll s uninterrupted reign, youthful rebellion, and overt teenage sex. It s also the deathblow for the pop music of another generation -- the songs of Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs -- and all its perky, white-bread conformity. Not two years later, Karen Schoemer is born, and comes of age with rock and roll. While her parents might enjoy the new music, the cultural upheaval passes them by, and they cling to the promises made by the music they loved as teenagers, the sweet, innocent 1950s pop of Patti Page, Frankie Laine, and the like. But having courted and wed against a backdrop of ideals peddled by this music -- finding true love, living happily ever after -- Schoemer s parents, like so many people, are crushed by disappointment when love doesn t deliver what the songs promised. Fifties pop falls quickly off the charts; their marriage eventually falls apart. In Great Pretenders, a lively, provocative blend of memoir and music criticism, former Newsweek pop music critic Karen Schoemer tries to figure out what went so wrong, way back in the hazy past, for her parents marriage and for the music of their youth. To find the answers, she embarks on a strange, lonely journey in search of some of the brightest stars of the 1950s. Schoemer s search started when, twenty years after her parents divorce, the new Connie Francis box set appeared on her desk at Newsweek. Now a successful rock critic dispensing post-punk opinions to the hipoisie, she was about to toss aside this relic when she was struck by the cover image of Francis, which bore an uncanny resemblance to her own mother; on a whim, she played one of the CDs. For all their cloying, simplistic sentimentality, songs like Where the Boys Are had an undeniable power -- the sound of every teenage girl in every bedroom on every lonely Saturday going back a thousand years. It was the music of her parents long-lost adolescence, and much to her surprise, it moved her. Thus Schoemer, arbiter of Gen X cool, found herself falling into the saccharine thrall of 1950s pop music, that pariah of the rock establishment. Even as her colleagues tried to steer her away from the terminally uncool genre, she tracked down seven former pop idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s: Connie Francis, Fabian, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Tommy Sands, Georgia Gibbs, and Frankie Laine. As she became privy to their inner lives and immersed herself in their music, Schoemer revised her own notions about the fifties at the same time that she explored her family s vexed dynamic. The result is a wonderful romp through an unappreciated chapter in music history and, more important, through her own past. Full of humor, insight, and unflinching honesty, Great Pretenders bucks the received wisdom, explores the intersections of our private lives and pop culture, and broadens our understanding of a crucial moment in our history. Seller Inventory # AAV9781416584537

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.February 1964: The Beatles step onto the tarmac at JFK International Airport and turn the country on its head. It s the advent of rock and roll s uninterrupted reign, youthful rebellion, and overt teenage sex. It s also the deathblow for the pop music of another generation -- the songs of Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs -- and all its perky, white-bread conformity. Not two years later, Karen Schoemer is born, and comes of age with rock and roll. While her parents might enjoy the new music, the cultural upheaval passes them by, and they cling to the promises made by the music they loved as teenagers, the sweet, innocent 1950s pop of Patti Page, Frankie Laine, and the like. But having courted and wed against a backdrop of ideals peddled by this music -- finding true love, living happily ever after -- Schoemer s parents, like so many people, are crushed by disappointment when love doesn t deliver what the songs promised. Fifties pop falls quickly off the charts; their marriage eventually falls apart. In Great Pretenders, a lively, provocative blend of memoir and music criticism, former Newsweek pop music critic Karen Schoemer tries to figure out what went so wrong, way back in the hazy past, for her parents marriage and for the music of their youth. To find the answers, she embarks on a strange, lonely journey in search of some of the brightest stars of the 1950s. Schoemer s search started when, twenty years after her parents divorce, the new Connie Francis box set appeared on her desk at Newsweek. Now a successful rock critic dispensing post-punk opinions to the hipoisie, she was about to toss aside this relic when she was struck by the cover image of Francis, which bore an uncanny resemblance to her own mother; on a whim, she played one of the CDs. For all their cloying, simplistic sentimentality, songs like Where the Boys Are had an undeniable power -- the sound of every teenage girl in every bedroom on every lonely Saturday going back a thousand years. It was the music of her parents long-lost adolescence, and much to her surprise, it moved her. Thus Schoemer, arbiter of Gen X cool, found herself falling into the saccharine thrall of 1950s pop music, that pariah of the rock establishment. Even as her colleagues tried to steer her away from the terminally uncool genre, she tracked down seven former pop idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s: Connie Francis, Fabian, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Tommy Sands, Georgia Gibbs, and Frankie Laine. As she became privy to their inner lives and immersed herself in their music, Schoemer revised her own notions about the fifties at the same time that she explored her family s vexed dynamic. The result is a wonderful romp through an unappreciated chapter in music history and, more important, through her own past. Full of humor, insight, and unflinching honesty, Great Pretenders bucks the received wisdom, explores the intersections of our private lives and pop culture, and broadens our understanding of a crucial moment in our history. Seller Inventory # AAV9781416584537

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Book Description Free Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 256 pages. Dimensions: 8.8in. x 6.0in. x 0.8in.February 1964: The Beatles step onto the tarmac at JFK International Airport and turn the country on its head. Its the advent of rock and rolls uninterrupted reign, youthful rebellion, and overt teenage sex. Its also the deathblow for the pop music of another generation -- the songs of Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs -- and all its perky, white-bread conformity. Not two years later, Karen Schoemer is born, and comes of age with rock and roll. While her parents might enjoy the new music, the cultural upheaval passes them by, and they cling to the promises made by the music they loved as teenagers, the sweet, innocent 1950s pop of Patti Page, Frankie Laine, and the like. But having courted and wed against a backdrop of ideals peddled by this music -- finding true love, living happily ever after -- Schoemers parents, like so many people, are crushed by disappointment when love doesnt deliver what the songs promised. Fifties pop falls quickly off the charts; their marriage eventually falls apart. In Great Pretenders, a lively, provocative blend of memoir and music criticism, former Newsweek pop music critic Karen Schoemer tries to figure out what went so wrong, way back in the hazy past, for her parents marriage and for the music of their youth. To find the answers, she embarks on a strange, lonely journey in search of some of the brightest stars of the 1950s. Schoemers search started when, twenty years after her parents divorce, the new Connie Francis box set appeared on her desk at Newsweek. Now a successful rock critic dispensing post-punk opinions to the hipoisie, she was about to toss aside this relic when she was struck by the cover image of Francis, which bore an uncanny resemblance to her own mother; on a whim, she played one of the CDs. For all their cloying, simplistic sentimentality, songs like Where the Boys Are had an undeniable power -- the sound of every teenage girl in every bedroom on every lonely Saturday going back a thousand years. It was the music of her parents long-lost adolescence, and much to her surprise, it moved her. Thus Schoemer, arbiter of Gen X cool, found herself falling into the saccharine thrall of 1950s pop music, that pariah of the rock establishment. Even as her colleagues tried to steer her away from the terminally uncool genre, she tracked down seven former pop idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s: Connie Francis, Fabian, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Tommy Sands, Georgia Gibbs, and Frankie Laine. As she became privy to their inner lives and immersed herself in their music, Schoemer revised her own notions about the fifties at the same time that she explored her familys vexed dynamic. The result is a wonderful romp through an unappreciated chapter in music history and, more important, through her own past. Full of humor, insight, and unflinching honesty, Great Pretenders bucks the received wisdom, explores the intersections of our private lives and pop culture, and broadens our understanding of a crucial moment in our history. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781416584537

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. February 1964: The Beatles step onto the tarmac at JFK International Airport and turn the country on its head. It s the advent of rock and roll s uninterrupted reign, youthful rebellion, and overt teenage sex. It s also the deathblow for the pop music of another generation -- the songs of Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs -- and all its perky, white-bread conformity. Not two years later, Karen Schoemer is born, and comes of age with rock and roll. While her parents might enjoy the new music, the cultural upheaval passes them by, and they cling to the promises made by the music they loved as teenagers, the sweet, innocent 1950s pop of Patti Page, Frankie Laine, and the like. But having courted and wed against a backdrop of ideals peddled by this music -- finding true love, living happily ever after -- Schoemer s parents, like so many people, are crushed by disappointment when love doesn t deliver what the songs promised. Fifties pop falls quickly off the charts; their marriage eventually falls apart. In Great Pretenders, a lively, provocative blend of memoir and music criticism, former Newsweek pop music critic Karen Schoemer tries to figure out what went so wrong, way back in the hazy past, for her parents marriage and for the music of their youth. To find the answers, she embarks on a strange, lonely journey in search of some of the brightest stars of the 1950s. Schoemer s search started when, twenty years after her parents divorce, the new Connie Francis box set appeared on her desk at Newsweek. Now a successful rock critic dispensing post-punk opinions to the hipoisie, she was about to toss aside this relic when she was struck by the cover image of Francis, which bore an uncanny resemblance to her own mother; on a whim, she played one of the CDs. For all their cloying, simplistic sentimentality, songs like Where the Boys Are had an undeniable power -- the sound of every teenage girl in every bedroom on every lonely Saturday going back a thousand years. It was the music of her parents long-lost adolescence, and much to her surprise, it moved her. Thus Schoemer, arbiter of Gen X cool, found herself falling into the saccharine thrall of 1950s pop music, that pariah of the rock establishment. Even as her colleagues tried to steer her away from the terminally uncool genre, she tracked down seven former pop idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s: Connie Francis, Fabian, Pat Boone, Patti Page, Tommy Sands, Georgia Gibbs, and Frankie Laine. As she became privy to their inner lives and immersed herself in their music, Schoemer revised her own notions about the fifties at the same time that she explored her family s vexed dynamic. The result is a wonderful romp through an unappreciated chapter in music history and, more important, through her own past. Full of humor, insight, and unflinching honesty, Great Pretenders bucks the received wisdom, explores the intersections of our private lives and pop culture, and broadens our understanding of a crucial moment in our history. Seller Inventory # LIE9781416584537

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