What does it all mean? As one of my students said recently, "I took your course last year, and got straight A's. It was a great course, and I learned a lot. But I still don't like country music, and New Age leaves me cold. Where did we fail?
My response surprised her. "We didn't fail, at all. The idea was not to get you to like any specific genre of music, but simply to appreciate that music as a part of the American story."
The purpose of this book is instruction. And the purpose of instruction should not be persuasion, but insight. I don't want to persuade anyone to "like" any kind of music. I do, however, very much want everyone who has read this book to understand how popular music came into being, who its major composer-performers were and are, and how it fits into the overall picture of American popular music in the last half of the 20th century and in the early 21st century.
If I have been successful, my students will now see what a potent force popular music is in the life of the nation, and how diverse are its forms and styles – and how deep are its dreams and desires for a given crowd of people at a given moment in history in a given geographical area of America.
Dr. Simon V. Anderson, Professor Emeritus
The University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music
From the first edition of Pop Music, U.S.A., June 1997