Music of the Postwar Era

Music of the Postwar Era

Music of the Postwar Era

Music of the Postwar Era


At the end of WWII, themes in music shifted from soldiers' experiences at war to coming home, marrying their sweethearts, and returning to civilian life. The music itself also shifted, with crooners such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra replacing the Big Bands of years past. Country music, jazz, and gospel continued to evolve, and rhythm and blues and the new rock and roll were also popular during this time. Music is not created without being influenced by the political events and societal changes of its time, and the Music of the Postwar Era is no exception.

•includes combined musical charts for the years 1945-1959 •approximately 20 black and white images of the singers and musicians who represent the era's music


I was honored when Debra Adams, senior acquisitions editor, asked if I’d be interested in writing the Postwar Music volume for Greenwood Press’ “American History through Music” series. I was particularly excited because, literally, this is the “music of my life.” I was in the first grade when World War II ended, and in high school when Elvis Presley burst into the nation’s consciousness. Obviously, as a first grader I was not completely enthralled with the hit songs of the era, but my family was listening to Your Hit Parade weekly. And my parents and I were always singing the currently popular hits. Popular music has been an important part of my life as a consumer, performer, and teacher.

I wish musical labels didn’t exist because they tend to create barriers. Good music is the music that affects the listener’s emotions, whether it is classical or popular, pop or country, jazz or semi-classical, rhythm and blues (R&B) or swing. In order to get an accurate view of any era, we must consider various styles of music to try to determine how they influenced—and were influenced by —the nation’s music-listening public.

When it comes to judging the American public’s taste in popular music, one must be extremely careful. It does appear, however, that the public chooses commercialism over quality most of the time. A song may be well written but still have no hit potential. If it isn’t commercial—if it doesn’t appeal to a broad market—it isn’t really successful in the eyes of music . . .

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