o t her b o o k s b y e l i jah wa l d Josh White: Society Blues River of Song: A Musical Journey Down the Mississippi (with John Junkerman) Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir (with Dave Van Ronk) Riding withStrangers: A Hitchhiker’s Journey Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music
How t h e B e atles D estroye d Ro c k ’ n ’ Rol l
A N A LT E R N A T I V E H I S T O R Y O F A M E R I C A N P O P U L A R M U S I C
Oxford University Press, Inc., publishes works that further Oxford University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education. oxford newyork Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto with offices in Argentina Austria Brazil Chile Czech Republic France Greece Guatemala Hungary Italy Japan Poland Portugal Singapore South Korea Switzerland Thailand Turkey Ukraine Vietnam Copyright © 2009 by Elijah Wald Published by Oxford University Press, Inc.198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016 www.oup.com Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. Library of CongressCataloging-in-Publication Data Wald, Elijah. How the Beatles destroyed rock ’n’ roll : an alternative history of American popular music / Elijah Wald. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-19-534154-6 1. Popular music—United States—History and criticism. I. Title. ML3477.W35 2009 781.640973—dc22 2008042265 ROCK IT FOR ME Words & Music by Kay Werner and Sue Werner Assung by Ella Fitzgerald © Copyright 1938 (Renewed) Words & Music, Inc., New York, NY Used by Permission “Rock the Joint” written by Harry Crafton, Henry (Doc) Bagby, and Wendell (Don) Keene Published by Andrea Music (SESAC) Lyrics reprinted with permission of Andrea Music and www.oldies.com (1-888-My-Oldies).
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
d e d ic at e d t o t h e m e mo r y o f j e ff m c l au g hl in , w h o s e s u p p o r t a n d c rit ic ism he l pe d me so o ft e n o v er th e y ear s , a n d w h o s e p r e s e n c e in t his b o o k a n d in my l ife is s o r ely m i s s ed.
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CON TEN TS
Acknowledgments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Introduction 1 Amateurs andExecutants 13 The Ragtime Life 25 Everybody’s Doin’ It 36 Alexander’s Got a Jazz Band Now 49 Cake Eaters and Hooch Drinkers 60 The King of Jazz 71 The Record, the Song, and the Radio 84 Sons of Whiteman 97 Swing That Music 111 Technology and Its Discontents 126 Walking Floors and Jumpin’ Jive 138 Selling the American Ballad 150 Rock the Joint 166 Big Records for Adults 184 Teen Idyll 199 Twisting GirlsChange the World 213 Say You Want a Revolution . . . 230 epi lo gue : The Rock Blot and the Disco Diagram Notes 255 Bibliography Index 291 281
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This is an exciting time to be writing about popular music. A ﬂood of insightful, well-researched books and papers is transforming our view of the past, and the Internet has providedunprecedented access to recordings, documents, and scholars around the world. I cannot possibly acknowledge everyone whose work inﬂuenced and educated me over the course of this project, but I want to emphasize that I had a lot of help. I am pleased to have unearthed some interesting and unfamiliar tidbits and hope I convey some of the surprise I felt as my preconceptions were overturned, but I am...