33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day

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9780061670152: 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day

From one of the most prominent music critics writing today, a page-turning and wonderfully researched history of protest music in the twentieth century and beyond

Nowhere does pop music collide more dramatically with the wider world than in the protest song, which forces its way into the news and prompts conversations from Washington to Westminster. Rather than being merely a worthy adjunct to the business of pop, protest music is woven into its DNA. When you listen to Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Public Enemy, or the Clash, you are not sitting down to a dusty seminar; you are hearing pop music at its most thrillingly alive. 

33 Revolutions Per Minute is the story of protest music told in 33 songs. An incisive history of a wide and shape-shifting genre, Dorian Lynskey's authoritative book takes us from the days of Billie Holliday crooning “Strange Fruit” before shocked audiences to Vietnam-era crowds voicing their resentment at the sounds of Bob Dylan to the fracas over the Dixie Chicks’ comments against George W. Bush during the Iraq War.

For anyone who enjoyed Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, or Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again33 Revolutions Per Minute is an absorbing and moving portrait of a century when music was the people’s truest voice.

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From the Back Cover:

From one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent music critics, a page-turning and wonderfully researched history of 33 songs that have transformed the world through the twentieth century and beyond.

When pop music meets politics, the results are often thrilling, sometimes life-changing, and never simple. The protest songs of such great artists as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, U2, Public Enemy, Fela Kuti, R.E.M., Rage Against the Machine, and the Clash represent pop music at its most charged and relevant, providing the soundtrack and informing social change since the 1930s. They capture the attention and passions of listeners, force their way into the news, and make their presence felt from the streets to the corridors of power.

33 Revolutions Per Minute is a history of protest music embodied in 33 songs that span seven decades and four continents, from Billie Holiday crooning "Strange Fruit" before a shocked audience to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young paying tribute to the Vietnam protesters killed at Kent State in "Ohio," to Green Day railing against President Bush and twenty-first-century media in "American Idiot." With the aid of exclusive new interviews, Dorian Lynskey explores the individuals, ideas, and events behind each song. This expansive survey examines how music has engaged with racial unrest, nuclear paranoia, apartheid, war, poverty, and oppression, offering hope, stirring anger, inciting action, and producing songs that continue to resonate years down the line, sometimes at great cost to the musicians involved.

For the audience who embraced Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise, Bob Dylan's Chronicles, or Simon Reynolds's Rip It Up and Start Again, 33 Revolutions Per Minute is an absorbing and moving account of 33 songs that made history.

About the Author:

Dorian Lynskey is a music writer for the Guardian. He also writes for Q, The Word, and Spin, among other publications. 33 Revolutions Per Minute is his first book.

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