Who

Journalist

What

Covering popular (and less-popular) culture, human interest and obsession

When

Since 1989

Where

Boston

(formerly SF, New Orleans, New York)

Why

 

Truth: still stranger than fiction

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New!

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs

When he emerged from the nightclubs of Greenwich Village, Bob Dylan was often identified as a "protest" singer. As early as 1962, however, Dylan was already protesting the label: "I don't write no protest songs," he told his audience on the night he debuted "Blowin' in the Wind."

"Protest" music is largely perceived as an unsubtle art form, a topical brand of songwriting that preaches to the converted. But popular music of all types has long given listeners food for thought. Fifty years before Vietnam, before the United States entered World War I, some of the most popular sheet music in the country featured anti-war tunes. The labor movement of the early decades of the century was fueled by its communal "songbook." The Civil Rights movement was soundtracked not just by the gorgeous melodies of "Strange Fruit" and "A Change Is Gonna Come," but hundreds of other gospel-tinged ballads and blues.

In Which Side Are You On, author James Sullivan delivers a lively anecdotal history of the progressive movements that have shaped the growth of the United States, and the songs that have accompanied and defined them. Covering one hundred years of social conflict and progress across the twentieth century and into the early years of the twenty-first, this book reveals how protest songs have given voice to the needs and challenges of a nation and asked its citizens to take a stand--asking the question "Which side are you on?"

Periodically

Ferlinghetti Strikes Match Across Night Sky With "Little Boy"

San Francisco Chronicle: March 18, 2019

When Red and Blue Rural America Sat Down to Eat

Boston Globe: November 3, 2018

How Lenny Bruce's Letters Came to Live at Brandeis

Boston Globe: July 12, 2015

The Play That Took Me Inside My Son's Head

The Atlantic: April 30, 2015

Boston Strong: After the Marathon Bombings

GX Magazine: August, 2013

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