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On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reache On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reaches from the minstrel era to Bob Dylan. The book begins with America’s first great social critic, Henry David Thoreau, and his fundamental source of social philosophy:---his profound commitment to freedom, to abolitionism and to African-American culture. Continuing with Mark Twain, through whom we can observe the rise of minstrelsy, which he embraced, and his subversive satirical masterpiece Huckleberry Finn. While familiar, the book places them into a newly articulated historical reference that shines new light and reveals a progression that is much greater than the sum of its individual parts. As the first post-Civil War generation of black Americans came of age, they introduced into the national culture a trio of musical forms—ragtime, blues, and jazz— that would, with their derivations, dominate popular music to this day. Ragtime introduced syncopation and become the cutting edge of the modern 20th century with popular dances. The blues would combine with syncopation and improvisation and create jazz. Maturing at the hands of Louis Armstrong, it would soon attract a cluster of young white musicians who came to be known as the Austin High Gang, who fell in love with black music and were inspired to play it themselves. In the process, they developed a liberating respect for the diversity of their city and country, which they did not see as exotic, but rather as art. It was not long before these young white rebels were the masters of American pop music – big band Swing. As Bop succeeded Swing, and Rhythm and Blues followed, each had white followers like the Beat writers and the first young rock and rollers. Even popular white genres like the country music of Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family reflected significant black influence. In fact, the theoretical separation of American music by race is not accurate. This biracial fusion achieved an apotheosis in the early work of Bob Dylan, born and raised at the northern end of the same Mississippi River and Highway 61 that had been the birthplace of much of the black music he would study. As the book reveals, the connection that began with Thoreau and continued for over 100 years was a cultural evolution where, at first individuals, and then larger portions of society, absorbed the culture of those at the absolute bottom of the power structure, the slaves and their descendants, and realized that they themselves were not free.


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On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reache On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reaches from the minstrel era to Bob Dylan. The book begins with America’s first great social critic, Henry David Thoreau, and his fundamental source of social philosophy:---his profound commitment to freedom, to abolitionism and to African-American culture. Continuing with Mark Twain, through whom we can observe the rise of minstrelsy, which he embraced, and his subversive satirical masterpiece Huckleberry Finn. While familiar, the book places them into a newly articulated historical reference that shines new light and reveals a progression that is much greater than the sum of its individual parts. As the first post-Civil War generation of black Americans came of age, they introduced into the national culture a trio of musical forms—ragtime, blues, and jazz— that would, with their derivations, dominate popular music to this day. Ragtime introduced syncopation and become the cutting edge of the modern 20th century with popular dances. The blues would combine with syncopation and improvisation and create jazz. Maturing at the hands of Louis Armstrong, it would soon attract a cluster of young white musicians who came to be known as the Austin High Gang, who fell in love with black music and were inspired to play it themselves. In the process, they developed a liberating respect for the diversity of their city and country, which they did not see as exotic, but rather as art. It was not long before these young white rebels were the masters of American pop music – big band Swing. As Bop succeeded Swing, and Rhythm and Blues followed, each had white followers like the Beat writers and the first young rock and rollers. Even popular white genres like the country music of Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family reflected significant black influence. In fact, the theoretical separation of American music by race is not accurate. This biracial fusion achieved an apotheosis in the early work of Bob Dylan, born and raised at the northern end of the same Mississippi River and Highway 61 that had been the birthplace of much of the black music he would study. As the book reveals, the connection that began with Thoreau and continued for over 100 years was a cultural evolution where, at first individuals, and then larger portions of society, absorbed the culture of those at the absolute bottom of the power structure, the slaves and their descendants, and realized that they themselves were not free.

30 review for On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    FASCINATING Keep YouTube handy, you are going to want it. I found the Youtube channel RagtimeDorianHenry particularly useful. I did not know anything about jazz when I started. This book made me hungry to hear blues and jazz; not much change in my opinion of big-band though :) There is a great deal of detail and exhaustive lists of names – I skimmed over those and concentrated on the concepts. There is also some music theory; again I skimmed that since I don't know a minor third from a major seven FASCINATING Keep YouTube handy, you are going to want it. I found the Youtube channel RagtimeDorianHenry particularly useful. I did not know anything about jazz when I started. This book made me hungry to hear blues and jazz; not much change in my opinion of big-band though :) There is a great deal of detail and exhaustive lists of names – I skimmed over those and concentrated on the concepts. There is also some music theory; again I skimmed that since I don't know a minor third from a major seventh. If you find information interesting this book will delight. The author skillfully traces the idea of freedom that is at the core of American self-image from Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, through Scott Joplin, W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan . Perhaps the description of Bessie Smith by Langston Hughes sums it up best; “her music was the essence of sadness… not softened by tears, but hardened with laughter, the absurd, incongrous laughter…” Or Milton Mezzrow (p174) description of jazz that releases “the rebel in us…A creative musician is an anarchist with a horn, and you can’t put any shackles on him” This is the music of optimists who can see beyond the present reality and toward a better day. The story is also a social history of the United States after the civil war and gives an amazingly vivid view of the life of americans who happen to have dark skin. Can you imagine being smart, talented, well-informed but forced to play the part of clown if you wanted to earn a living? I was astounded to find out about the unsung African-American artists of the 19th century such as Ira Aldridge who was highly acclaimed for his interpretations of Shakespear but had to play as a caricuture. Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones who sang at Carnegie Hall and worked with Antonin Dvorak but had to labor in a minstrel show to make a living. Egbert Austin Williams was an accomplished producer on Broadway but also described as “the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew” by W.C. Fields. The type of comedy called minstrelsy is much more damaging than I had realized; I think it persists today. I seems it is something we need to talk about… like bullying. As Antonin Devorak said “I am now satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called the Negro Melodies…These are the folk songs of America…There is nothing in the whole range of composition that cannot be supplied with themes from this source” 1893 in The New York Herald Tribune (p76) Cavils (it’s my nature, I can’t help it) There should be more about the women –this is a book about boys. The author has a token “Women of Blues Chapter” and gives brief mention of Bessie Smith and Joan Baez. I think there is more to say about these two and probably many more significant women. There should be less about Bob Dylan. I like him too, but the minutiae stretched over more than 100 pages are just too much. I picked up this book for a Goodreads bookclub challenge to read a book with numbers in the title - goofy huh.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roderick Mcgillis

    "His (Bob Dylan's) music and the tradition of black and white reconciliation/affirmation/inspiration it represented would, along with many other proximate influences, trigger an extraordinary assessment of American culture - the era of great questioning known as the '60s. Though many of the positive consequences of that great challenge dissipated themselves in indulgence and greed, the impulse toward liberation that emerged in that era endures in a dozen causes - the environmental movement, the "His (Bob Dylan's) music and the tradition of black and white reconciliation/affirmation/inspiration it represented would, along with many other proximate influences, trigger an extraordinary assessment of American culture - the era of great questioning known as the '60s. Though many of the positive consequences of that great challenge dissipated themselves in indulgence and greed, the impulse toward liberation that emerged in that era endures in a dozen causes - the environmental movement, the feminist movement, the pursuit of rights for all who do not live in conventional sexual roles - and far, far more.That history is still being written" (429-430). This book begins with Thoreau and ends with Dylan, and in between, it weaves a path through American musical (and literary and social) history tracing the importance - no, the crucial and central importance - of Black Americans' struggle for and articulation of a principle, a principle we call freedom. We might quibble that this or that figure is missing or not given enough attention, but really the project here to examine a tradition in America dedicated to inclusiveness, fairness, equality, and compassion is well done. Cheers. The folding of jazz and its precursor music (e.g. ragtime and earlier minstrelsy) into blues and R&B and Rock n' Roll, and Folk is nifty. This book of 430 pages of exposition devotes over 100 of these pages to the young man from Hibbing. The treatment of Dylan is compelling. It stops abruptly in 1966, and I could have wished for a look at Dylan's later career from the same perspective. But I must take what the book offers, and I take it gratefully.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Howison

    So here's the thing... in spite of only giving this book a 3 star rating, I really enjoyed reading it. As you might expect of a book subtitled "Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom," McNally spends a large portion of the book exploring African-American music; the spirituals, blues, jazz, and all that both preceded and followed these expressions. He's a good writer, has great insight, loves and respects the music, and cares enough to weed his way through to some of the key interpret So here's the thing... in spite of only giving this book a 3 star rating, I really enjoyed reading it. As you might expect of a book subtitled "Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom," McNally spends a large portion of the book exploring African-American music; the spirituals, blues, jazz, and all that both preceded and followed these expressions. He's a good writer, has great insight, loves and respects the music, and cares enough to weed his way through to some of the key interpretive voices. All good. Even when he sees Henry David Thoreau as something of the pioneer or forerunner of this music, I can cut McNally some serious slack. I'd never thought of things in that way... I'm afraid, though, that I just don't buy his interpretation of Bob Dylan as being the endpoint of "Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom." Don't get me wrong here... I think Dylan is a brilliant and gifted writer, and one who may yet surprise us with some stunning original music. But the endpoint? I don't buy it, I'm afraid. The author of the review in Kirkus apparently agrees, and says it better than I could: "A combination of cultural history of American popular music and race relations and a fan’s notes on Bob Dylan, whose story consumes the final 100 pages."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A great introductory reading for anyone interested in the roots and evolution of American music -- especially its intellectual, racial, and geographical contexts. Though the author's central argument isn't always as prominent as it could be from chapter to chapter, the book tells a great story throughout, using as a motif the Mississippi River and its parallel roadway, Highway 61, to chart the journey of the music and its practitioners. Somehow he manages to link Thoreau and Twain and their arti A great introductory reading for anyone interested in the roots and evolution of American music -- especially its intellectual, racial, and geographical contexts. Though the author's central argument isn't always as prominent as it could be from chapter to chapter, the book tells a great story throughout, using as a motif the Mississippi River and its parallel roadway, Highway 61, to chart the journey of the music and its practitioners. Somehow he manages to link Thoreau and Twain and their articulation of the freedom principle in their work to the spiritual tradition, minstrelsy, the emergence of jazz and the blues, and ultimately the person he considers the greatest beneficiary of black music and the embodiment of its syncretic fusion --Bob Dylan.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    McNally introduces his book as "an idiosyncratic history," and that it definitely is. I found much of it interesting, though often meandering. One could argue that the meandering mimics the titular highway, though as the geography of the stories contained sprawl and jumble from Mississippi to Maryland, St. Louis to Chicago, New Orleans to New York, and Hibbing to Hamburg, the thematic importance of being "On Highway 61" gets quite lost. That said, I did find both the music and race history very McNally introduces his book as "an idiosyncratic history," and that it definitely is. I found much of it interesting, though often meandering. One could argue that the meandering mimics the titular highway, though as the geography of the stories contained sprawl and jumble from Mississippi to Maryland, St. Louis to Chicago, New Orleans to New York, and Hibbing to Hamburg, the thematic importance of being "On Highway 61" gets quite lost. That said, I did find both the music and race history very interesting. I think McNally's thesis, as it were, is rather thin--pushing his poetic title too far--but the background on the development of blues music in particular was worth the read. Not personally being a particular Bob Dylan fan, I found the song-by-song analysis of his first six albums in the last section of the book a bit trying and excessive (and idiosyncratic perhaps--but not in a good way), thought Dylan fans will probably love it and the amateur-musicologist in me did find some of the details interesting. The line he wants us to see between Thoreau and Dylan may exist, but I'm not at all convinced that it ever traveled Highway 61. [3.5 stars]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Graney

    I was excited to begin reading this book. The first few chapters do not disappoint. It is impressively scholarly. However there is so much detail in writing about music and the bio's of some of the subjects that On Highway 61 loses it's focus and it's power. The book could have easily been called On The Mississippi River or many other titles because of the (too) broad subtitle. The last few chapters on Bob Dylan are interesting but again, Dennis McNally makes the reader labor through a lot of mat I was excited to begin reading this book. The first few chapters do not disappoint. It is impressively scholarly. However there is so much detail in writing about music and the bio's of some of the subjects that On Highway 61 loses it's focus and it's power. The book could have easily been called On The Mississippi River or many other titles because of the (too) broad subtitle. The last few chapters on Bob Dylan are interesting but again, Dennis McNally makes the reader labor through a lot of material when the point he is making could be much more concise. I found the same to be true in his book on The Grateful Dead where he spent so much time on the early years of their history. However the interlude chapters were a pleasant and needed diversion from the chronology. If someone is doing research on the areas McNally covers, they might find this book useful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I really enjoyed this book — very well researched and thorough. Its scope is impressive, bringing together culture, literature, music history, politics, and the country’s founding ideal of freedom. McNally traces how African American music — against all odds — endured, influenced and created the great musical development in the US as the country progressed (and often regressed) from the civil war until the passage of the civil rights act. And he provides hope that we can someday recapture and re I really enjoyed this book — very well researched and thorough. Its scope is impressive, bringing together culture, literature, music history, politics, and the country’s founding ideal of freedom. McNally traces how African American music — against all odds — endured, influenced and created the great musical development in the US as the country progressed (and often regressed) from the civil war until the passage of the civil rights act. And he provides hope that we can someday recapture and realize the american freedom ideal.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    McNally aptly describes his book "an idiosyncratic history." Scholarly but accessible, occasionally dubious in its connections and conclusions, this unique journey through American music history and its broad impact upon culture is fascinating and enjoyable. McNally aptly describes his book "an idiosyncratic history." Scholarly but accessible, occasionally dubious in its connections and conclusions, this unique journey through American music history and its broad impact upon culture is fascinating and enjoyable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    P. Wilson

    An interesting overview of the development of American music, starting with the Mississippi Delta and concluding with Bob Dylan. The use of Highway 61, which runs from Duluth, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana, is by now a well-traveled trope. But it still works. I liked how McNally combined the social history of the period with the development of the blues, jazz, R&B, be-bop, country blues, and rock and roll. The section on Dylan was probably too long, creating a certain imbalance. And in cove An interesting overview of the development of American music, starting with the Mississippi Delta and concluding with Bob Dylan. The use of Highway 61, which runs from Duluth, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana, is by now a well-traveled trope. But it still works. I liked how McNally combined the social history of the period with the development of the blues, jazz, R&B, be-bop, country blues, and rock and roll. The section on Dylan was probably too long, creating a certain imbalance. And in covering Dylan's remarkable life through his first five albums (culminating with Highway 61 Revisited in 1965), I probably learned enough about Dylan, although I was very impressed with the hitherto unknown story of Dylan singing "Only a Pawn in the Game" before an audience of black sharecroppers and KKK men in Greenbow, Mississippi, in the early 60's.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Herlocker

    Good thesis, very thoroughly explored BUT the book needs some tighter editing. The final 75+ pages about Bob Dylan seem out of proportion to other artists. Beginning with Thoreau and Twain intrigued me but that section too was a bit too detailed. The central chapters of musical history were interesting but again too full of obscure details for the average reader. The history was interesting but without a strong music history background I was often lost in the details. Finally, it would have been Good thesis, very thoroughly explored BUT the book needs some tighter editing. The final 75+ pages about Bob Dylan seem out of proportion to other artists. Beginning with Thoreau and Twain intrigued me but that section too was a bit too detailed. The central chapters of musical history were interesting but again too full of obscure details for the average reader. The history was interesting but without a strong music history background I was often lost in the details. Finally, it would have been great to have access to samples of music — perhaps a link to an annotated website? Not sure how to do it. I found myself searching for music clips in order to understand the changes and connections the author was pointing out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not what I was expecting, but a fulfilling read anyhow. I was hoping for more of a geographic journey of the varied music genres arising from Highway 61. While there were certainly a number of references, I would have preferred a more detailed focus on those local factors along Highway 61 and less on Chicago and New York's contributions. While I enjoyed reading this book, near the conclusion I began to come away with the feeling the entire text was written as a buildup towards the chapters on Bo Not what I was expecting, but a fulfilling read anyhow. I was hoping for more of a geographic journey of the varied music genres arising from Highway 61. While there were certainly a number of references, I would have preferred a more detailed focus on those local factors along Highway 61 and less on Chicago and New York's contributions. While I enjoyed reading this book, near the conclusion I began to come away with the feeling the entire text was written as a buildup towards the chapters on Bob Dylan. Upon conclusion, I am even more convinced of this. While that does not bother me, I think a better (or more accurate) title would have been "How Highway 61 Created Bob Dylan."

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Howard

    I really enjoyed the work because I am very interested in music as a force for social change. However, this book makes very questionable connections between the key individuals and their pursuit of what McNally calls "cultural freedom". I do suggest to give it a read because I do not want to give any of it away, but other than that it is a good history of the evolution of black music. I really enjoyed the work because I am very interested in music as a force for social change. However, this book makes very questionable connections between the key individuals and their pursuit of what McNally calls "cultural freedom". I do suggest to give it a read because I do not want to give any of it away, but other than that it is a good history of the evolution of black music.

  13. 5 out of 5

    June

    I loved how the history and the place and time led naturally to an explanation of the evolution of the blues music. The book helped me understand more connections between musicians and styles. Good book!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Perez

    McNally offers a comprehensive examination of the influence of African-American culture on American pop culture. Simply put, American pop culture is African-American culture.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    4 1/3 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Long, involved history of the appropriation of black music with a lengthy chapter on Bob Dylan.

  17. 4 out of 5

    C.

    On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom Dennis McNally 384 Pages ISBN: #978-1619024496 Counterpoint 2014 Since Samuel Charters The Country Blues (Reinhart) in 1959, beginning, effectively, the serious reportage of American Folk Music, in particular the blues, there have been two far-reaching trilogies that address American Folk Music against the larger backdrop of race and culture. The first is Peter Guralnick's Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues, Country, and On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom Dennis McNally 384 Pages ISBN: #978-1619024496 Counterpoint 2014 Since Samuel Charters The Country Blues (Reinhart) in 1959, beginning, effectively, the serious reportage of American Folk Music, in particular the blues, there have been two far-reaching trilogies that address American Folk Music against the larger backdrop of race and culture. The first is Peter Guralnick's Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues, Country, and Rock 'n' Roll (Harper& Row, 1971); Lost Highway: Journeys & Arrivals of American Musicians (Harper & Row, 1979), and Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom (Harper & Row, 1986). The second prominent trilogy is by Greil Marcus and includes: Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music (Plume, 1975), Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (Harvard University Press, 1989), and The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes (Picador, 2011). While Guralnick's set retains remnants of the period's romantic exuberance, Marcus' is often unfocused and impenetrable. Both sets are necessary reading to properly understand the length of America musical history through rock and roll becoming the popular music in the 1950s and '60s. A third, and to date, most inclusive trilogy has just been completed in On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom by Dennis McNally. On Highway 61 joins his books, Desolate Angel: Jack, the Beats and America (Book Sales, 1981) and A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead (Broadway, 2002). McNally has spent a life time chronicling the Grateful Dead, for whom he was the authorized biographer of Kerouac the band. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Massachusetts, a fact amply apparent in his superb research but thankfully lacking in his almost conversational writing (read that as: "a user friendly historian"). The main focus of McNally's studies is the American counter-culture as defined by the ideals of the Transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. McNally places these characters at the center of the Abolitionist movement of the 19th Century expounding what had to be the most counter-cultural thinking of the period. It makes me wonder, how shortchanged I was studying Thoreau and Emerson in high school (Catholic school at that) and how their then-radical writings were minimized to more style than content. Heaven forbid that a Catholic school should promote Unitarian thinking. Beginning with Jack Kerouac and the Beats, McNally addresses the most counter-cultural aspects of the post-ear 1950s. In On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom, McNally draws a thread through music and American Culture starting before the Civil War through the emergence of Bob Bylan. The thread metaphor may be extended to that ribbon of water that nearly bisects the country: the Mississippi River and its Highway 61. With great facility, McNally details in an attractive and easily readable style all of the music spring forth from this rich cultural area, beginning in the Caribbean to New Orleans, Greenville, Tutwiler, Memphis, St Louis, Hannibal, to Chicago and ultimately to Dylan's, Hibbing, Minnesota. Weaving little known facts about a host of musical luminaries shaping all American music that came after, the author seasons the discussion with the richness of race in America and in particular, the American South. He emphasizes that what America is today is because of African American culture interacting with and changing White Anglo Saxon Protestant America and how this interaction and change has made us all better, at least in the ideal. McNally may have almost been too ambitious in his reach over the subject matter, but his premise never thins and always remains centered in the egalitarian positions posited by the opening characters David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and all that came after them. Woody Guthrie's guitar said "This Machine Kills Fascists." So does this far-reaching book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah D Bunting

    http://tomatonation.com/culture-and-c... http://tomatonation.com/culture-and-c...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    A friend (and fellow Dylan nut)wrote this, and I felt a bit of obligation to read it. But I was very glad I did. The book's thesis is that there has always been a dissident outsider voice in America, and African American music has been in the forefront of that. The book does not always stick to the thesis, but what it does present is a comprehensive chronicling of 100 years of of music going form minstrelsy, jazz, blues, ragtime, rhtym and blues - with brief musical and biographical histories of A friend (and fellow Dylan nut)wrote this, and I felt a bit of obligation to read it. But I was very glad I did. The book's thesis is that there has always been a dissident outsider voice in America, and African American music has been in the forefront of that. The book does not always stick to the thesis, but what it does present is a comprehensive chronicling of 100 years of of music going form minstrelsy, jazz, blues, ragtime, rhtym and blues - with brief musical and biographical histories of every musician you ever heard from and many you have not. I can never get enough of reading the story of how Louis Armstrong went form a new Orleans reformatory to basically inventing jazz. It like reading a hundred well-written and informative album covers, which to me is heaven. The book ends with a 100 page concluding section,"The Man Who Brought It all Back Home" - - Bob Dylan. Its a little weird to have a book on African American music end with Dylan, but Dennis makes the case that Dylan arrived in New York not just with Woodie Guthrie and folk music on his mind, but with a through grounding in blues and rhythm and blues. In any event, 100 pages of Dylan from birth to Highway 61 Revisited, with a lot of new stuff to me about hi high school years, was fine with me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Oliver

    This was an amazing and important book in so many ways. Tracing both the history of black music and the civil rights movement and the intermingling of African roots with European white culture especially through literature and music, this book shows where the barriers of racism can crumble through the arts. Starting with Thoreau and his support of freedom, abolitionism and African-American culture and Mark Twain's subversive masterpiece Huckleberry Finn, McNally then explores ragtime, blues and This was an amazing and important book in so many ways. Tracing both the history of black music and the civil rights movement and the intermingling of African roots with European white culture especially through literature and music, this book shows where the barriers of racism can crumble through the arts. Starting with Thoreau and his support of freedom, abolitionism and African-American culture and Mark Twain's subversive masterpiece Huckleberry Finn, McNally then explores ragtime, blues and jazz and their impact on popular music to this day. As the next generation of bop and r&b artists attracted a huge following of white followers like the beats and rock and rollers, the separation of American music by race would vanish, especially with the emergence of Bob Dylan during the height of the civil rights movement in the early 60's. I appreciate this book more than ever in light of the arrival of my beautiful mixed race grandson being born to my son and daughter in law and the success of their interracial marriage.

  21. 5 out of 5

    CURTIS NUGENT

    This book was not at all what I was expecting. From the title I thought the book would be a history or the Delta Blues. It was not. It was much more. The book began with a discussion of Henry David Thoreau and Samuel Clemons. Both were anti-slavery. Then the music of the period was discussed. Basically this book showed the parallel between music and the beginning of the civil rights movement. It finished with what was basically a biography of Bob Dylan from his youth to his making of the album H This book was not at all what I was expecting. From the title I thought the book would be a history or the Delta Blues. It was not. It was much more. The book began with a discussion of Henry David Thoreau and Samuel Clemons. Both were anti-slavery. Then the music of the period was discussed. Basically this book showed the parallel between music and the beginning of the civil rights movement. It finished with what was basically a biography of Bob Dylan from his youth to his making of the album Highway 61 Revisited. I must say the book was better than I was expecting. A pleasant surprise!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Crompton

    A fascinating examination of American music and culture which starts with Thoreau and ends with Bob Dylan. Along the way, McNally occasionally misses a beat or repeats an unlikely legend as fact (no, Buddy Bolden's horn couldn't be heard a mile away), but he gets far more right than wrong, and ties all the threads together in a satisfying way. The long concluding section on Dylan was very enlightening to me - I know and admire the music, but knew very little about his early life. If the subtitle A fascinating examination of American music and culture which starts with Thoreau and ends with Bob Dylan. Along the way, McNally occasionally misses a beat or repeats an unlikely legend as fact (no, Buddy Bolden's horn couldn't be heard a mile away), but he gets far more right than wrong, and ties all the threads together in a satisfying way. The long concluding section on Dylan was very enlightening to me - I know and admire the music, but knew very little about his early life. If the subtitle appeals to you, read it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Macke

    a swing and a miss for me, probably my own fault ... i stopped reading the title after "On Highway 61: Music" ... this book is NOT about the blues players along that famous thoroughfare, rather it is about the 2nd part of the title: "Race and The Evolution of Cultural Freedom" ... way over my head, gave me the blues a swing and a miss for me, probably my own fault ... i stopped reading the title after "On Highway 61: Music" ... this book is NOT about the blues players along that famous thoroughfare, rather it is about the 2nd part of the title: "Race and The Evolution of Cultural Freedom" ... way over my head, gave me the blues

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    http://www.pussreboots.pair.com/blog/... http://www.pussreboots.pair.com/blog/...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert K. Gramenz

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zach Moats

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ron Jacobs

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lawrie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pschnee

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