During the 1930s, swing bands combined jazz and popular music to create large-scale dreams for the Depression generation, capturing the imagination of America's young people, music critics, and the music business. Swingin' the Dream explores that world, looking at the racial mixing-up and musical swinging-out that shook the nation and has kept people dancing ever since.
"Swingin' the Dream is an intelligent, provocative study of the big band era, chiefly during its golden hours in the 1930s; not merely does Lewis A. Erenberg give the music its full due, but he places it in a larger context and makes, for the most part, a plausible case for its importance."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
"An absorbing read for fans and an insightful view of the impact of an important homegrown art form."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] fascinating celebration of the decade or so in which American popular music basked in the sunlight of a seemingly endless high noon."—Tony Russell, Times Literary Supplement
Few musicologists give much acknowledgment to musical styles popular before the bebop explosion of the late 1940s. Mindless commercial entertainment for the masses seems to be the consensus of most serious critics. But Erenberg (Steppin' Out, Greenwood, 1981) makes the case that the era between 1935 and 1948, when big bands dominated popular culture, was a golden age when American music finally shed the constraints of European influence. Making its greatest impact during the stormy periods of the Great Depression and World War II, this music, a collaboration between African Americans and the children of immigrants, changed not only culture but American society as a whole. The effect of the fans shaping the course of the music hints at the influence young people continue to have on popular culture to this day. This book is a thorough chronicle of a vibrant music that provided the soundtrack for some of our most troubling times, and along the way changed our country's view of itself. Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, PA