William Studwell has struck gold again! Providing a heterogenous mixture of songs that mirrors the diversity of the United States and its culture, The Americana Song Reader is an entertaining and informative collection of over 130 historical essays on various American and foreign songs that have had a significant impact on U.S. popular culture. The essays give you basic historical data on the work, refer to any related or affiliated works, and touch upon the cultural context of its creation and popular usage in the United States. Presented in an offbeat, somewhat irreverent, yet scholarly style, the author has once again compiled a reference book that is fun to read.
In addition to presenting information useful for reference, The Americana Song Reader contains anecdotes, ironic sidelights, poetry, and allusions to parodies. For ease of use, the book is divided into several sections. These sections, with some representative songs listed, include:
- Dancing Songs: “After the Ball,” “The Hokey Pokey,” “Sleeping Beauty Waltz”
- Marching Songs: “March of the Toys,” “When the Saints Go Marching In”
- Rural and Western Songs: “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “Jessie James,” “The Streets of Laredo”
- Songs That Excite or Amuse: “An American in Paris,” “1812 Overture,” “The Sidewalks of New York”
- Songs That Soothe or Bring Tears: “Beautiful Dreamer,” “I'm Always Chasing Rainbows,” “My Wild Irish Rose”
- Children's Songs: “Hansel and Gretel,” “Pop Goes the Weasel,” “Sing a Song of Sixpence”
- Circus Songs: “Barnum and Bailey's Favorite,” “Be a Clown,” “The Flying Trapeze”
- Drinking Songs: “Auld Lange Syne,” “Little Brown Jug,” “Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer”
- College Songs: “Iowa Corn Song,” “Notre Dame Victory Song,” “The Whiffenpoof Song”
- Song title index and author/group index
Whether the music comes from New York City, remote rural areas of the South or West, or from Vienna or Paris, all music having some sort of impact on the lives of everyday Americans is in a very true way part of Americana. In The Americana Song Reader, you'll see the songs both as small pieces of the American culture puzzle and, collectively, as a large segment of the music of the country. This newest addition to William Studwell's collection of song readers will delight the general public, musicians, and librarians.