Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
Stimulating, Challenging, Fascinating and Important
This is a superb book. Its very well written and exceptionally well researched and thought through. Anyone who's interested in the work of Springsteen, Guthrie and Whitman or the liberatory potential of popular culture will find this book fascinating. I read it like a thriller - staying up all night.
Garman works from a rigorously principled political position which leads him to be very even handed in his assesment of the achievments and failures of the subjects of his study. This is no hagiography but it also has none of the self righteous contempt for the popular that infects so much cultural studies.
This is exemplary work.
Expanding popular music horizons
Bryan Garman's book provides an indepth study of those singer-songwriters who, according to the author, follow in Whitman's footsteps. He analyzes Woody Guthrie and Springsteen's work thoroughly. The consideration of Guthrie's "hurt song" is fascinating. The author also makes a good case for expanding our horizons beyond the white male heterosexual dominant order. I was rather taken aback to learn that some of my old favorite English folk club singalong songs smacked of homoeroticism. In particular, we are told that Tom Paxton's "Rambling Boy" is "a love song that contains and expresses a homoeroticism that permeated the work of socially engaged artists from Whitman to Traubel, Hughes to Guthrie" (p 159). Gosh, I wonder what Paxton would say about that! I agree with Mr. Garman, however, that much of this New Left rhetoric marginalizes women. That is why folks like Ani Di Franco seem far more engaging and even revolutionary than Springsteen. A Race of Singers has proved an invaluable book for me as I prepare my PhD dissertation at a Spanish university. I recommend it to anyone studying contemporary folk music and its place in recent history.
Very well written
Garman's analysis of Springsteen, Dylan, Guthrie, and Whitman is very provocative. Especially his insights into Springsteen and the way in which his music played off against (or was interpreted as being in sync with) Reagan's politics, and pop culture in the 80s, such as Rambo. Definitely a worthwhile read for someone who considers her or himself a fan of any of the aforementioned singers, or someone interested in an in-depth analysis of the politics of these singers.