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"
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 was - the war and the social forces it unleashed, the Red scare of the post-WW 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. (Kirkus Reviews)
|List of Illustrations|
|List of Abbreviations|
|From Jazz to Swing, 1929-1935|
|Just One More Chance: The Fall of the Jazz Age and the Rise of Swing, 1929-1935|
|Now they Call it Swing, 1935-1942|
|The Crowd Goes Wild: The Youth Culture of Swing|
|Swing Is Here: Benny Goodman and the Triumph of American Music|
|News from the Great Wide World: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Black Swing Bands|
|Swing Left: The Politics of Race and Culture in the Swing Era|
|The City of Swing: New York and the Dance Band Business in Black and White|
|Culture Noir, 1942-1954|
|Swing Goes to War: Glenn Miller and the Popular Music of World War II|
|The War in Jazz|
|Coda and Conclusion: Red Scares and Head Scares|
|Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.|
Series: Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning
Number Of Pages: 340
Published: 15th May 1998
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.9 x 2.89
Weight (kg): 0.7