Popular Recorded Music within the Context of National Life

William Howland Kenney

in Recorded Music in American Life

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195171778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849789 | DOI:
                   Popular Recorded Music within the Context of National Life

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More than we used to realize, the phonograph and recorded music served to stimulate collective memories among Americans of different social and ethnic backgrounds, who were, like the few large recording companies that survived the Depression, caught up in the swiftly changing patterns and politics of national life. The personal changes brought on by life itself provided ample stimulus for seeking solace in musical memories, but the additional burdens of national economic adversity and war, which drew workers into urban factories and GIs onto lonely battlefields, led many in both groups to long for the music they had left behind. Record producers often mixed stylistic genres and, less creatively, simply issued ethnic cover versions of hit records. Such processes of cultural and musical assimilation created another basis for shared popular musical memories. With bebop, as with 1920s jazz, blues, hillbilly music, and big band swing of the 1930s and 1940s, the recording industry mediated cultural and musical diversity in the United States.

Keywords: United States; Depression; phonograph; recorded music; recording companies; musical memories; hillbilly music; blues; recording industry; national life

Chapter.  9760 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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