Rock Music in American Popular Culture: Rock 'N' Roll Resources

By DeWitt, Howard A. | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

Rock Music in American Popular Culture: Rock 'N' Roll Resources


DeWitt, Howard A., Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


Rock Music in American Popular Culture: Rock 'n' Roll Resources. B. Lee Cooper and Wayne S. Haney. New York: Haworth Press, 1995. $45.00.

Rock Music in American Popular Culture: Rock 'n' Roll Resources is an insightful and valuable reference tool for historians and practitioners of popular culture. This twenty-one chapter book presents a series of essays evolving around such themes as bootleg records, Christmas carols, memorabilia and collectibles, journalists and critics, radio broadcasters and record charts among others. As part of the Haworth Popular Culture Series, it is a very useful classroom and research tool. For the college and secondary instructor there is a wealth of new ideas. Clearly written essays with themes that will excite students is one of the goals of this book. It is one of the most comprehensive research tools available to practitioners of popular culture, because of the wealth of bibliographical material, the analysis of CDs and books, and the synthesis of recent scholarship in the field.

This eclectic collection includes a marvelous analysis of baseball songs and their image in American culture. The social message of baseball is both in the present and the past as witnessed by John Fogerty's nostalgic recreation of the game in "Centerfield" (1985) while Dion's song "(I Used To Be a) Brooklyn Dodger" (1978) cries out for the old days. There is also a chapter on Sports Heroes and, as singer Terry Cashman reminds us, there is a deeply rooted nostalgia to baseball. A feeling that things were both easier and better in another baseball time. This is an obvious reference to the recent major league strike and the large salaries that dominate the game. Cooper reminds us that baseball serves "as a valuable reminder of how truly influential pre-1960 baseball was in American culture."

The research strength of the Cooper-Haney volume is also demonstrated in specialized biographical studies of Daryl Hall and John Oates, Ricky Nelson, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. These figures are used to suggest why acts from different areas are important to rock music's influence upon American culture. Many of these essays are book and record reviews and they offer a fresh perspective on the artists and their importance to popular culture.

In cooperation with Laura E. Cooper, an essay on exported recording points out the significance of the BBC as a cultural ambassador for American records. …

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