The very best history of American popular music, so far, has been written by amigo, Elijah Wald, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music. Beatles Worshippers, do not be alarmed. The title is a a bait 'n' switch; to the disappointment of some, Elijah doesn't really say the Beatles destroyed R 'N R.
Pub date, June 2009. From the Oxford University Press.
He's been in town the last couple of days. The things you don't know about your friends! His parents, for instance, were both biologists (like Vaquero's, but unlike Vaquero's, they are politically very leftist). Elijah's father, George Wald was a Nobel Prize winner. His mom is Ruth Hubbard. Elijah even wrote a book with his mom.
The ARC doesn't include the illustrations, which ought to be brilliant. Elijah says they are. This book was being written while The World That Made New Orleans and The Year Before the Flood were being written. There was a great deal of draft and conversation back-and-forth so reading the galleys isn't that kind of content revelation. IOW, this book has been a significant presence in the casita. But this is the first time I've read the whole roll as part succeeds part. Deeply researched, the book is brilliant, overflowing with vivid, fascinating, revelatory detail. It reads quickly and easily, though, because Elijah, another of that rara avis, a writer about music, who is also a working musician, is also an excellent writer.
This is a different kind of book than Elijah's previous titles, which include Narcorridos: A Journey Into the Music of Drugs, Guns and Guerrillas and Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. As he stresses strongly, this isn't a book of music criticism, but a book of history. If you are interested in American popular music you will need to read this one.