Rock & Roll Books

Gift Guide

Rock & Roll Books

America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley

by Philip Furia and Michael Lasser

Routledge, 328 pp., $29.95

As integral to the identity of 20th-century America as Prohibition, the Cold War, or the New York Yankees, the songs of Tin Pan Alley are the closest things we have to a national poetic language. Let the English have their Wordsworths, their Shelleys, their Gilberts & Sullivans. Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, and the Gershwin brothers are our guys: sons of the American immigrant experience who created a new musical vernacular by combining the formality of high European romance with the wit, urbanity, and unmitigated moxie of the modern American city. The results are a collection of songs that have since become immortal ("Night and Day," "Blue Moon," "My Funny Valentine," and a thousand others), interpreted by countless singers and jazz musicians in countless bars, nightclubs, and concert halls around the world – wherever a heart is breaking. America's Songs doesn't claim to be an exhaustive historical text or a work of high intellectualism. Rather, it's an anecdotal trip through the creation of some of the greatest compositions of our recently deceased century, a trip filled with classic collaborations, booze-filled inspiration, and moments of almost divine serendipity.

A note to readers: As we look forward to our fifth decade publishing this paper, and to a print redesign scheduled for late January, we thought we’d take this occasion to ask our readers some questions about how you use the print edition – what parts you find useful, and what parts we could improve. – Nick Barbaro, Publisher of The Austin Chronicle

Take our Reader Survey  

READ MORE
More by Josh Rosenblatt
SXSW Film Review: <i>Bikes vs. Cars</i>
SXSW: Bikes vs. Cars
Swedish doc looks into the war between wheels

March 16, 2015

SXSW Film Review: <i>Sweaty Betty</i>
SXSW: Sweaty Betty
A dog, two single dads, and a 1,000-pound pig

March 15, 2015

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

WE WANT TO KNOW what you like, what you dislike, and how we can do better.   Take Our Reader Survey