Music is revolution, music is work: Rock ‘n’ roll, popular music, and working in American culture, 1930s-1970s



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The period between the 1930s and 1970s witnessed numerous forms and styles of music find attraction among Americans separated by distance, race, backgrounds, and time. The emergence of rock ‘n’ roll integrated the struggles to find and control work and economic activities after World War II, and informed meanings of listening and connections to other Americans, groups, and societies. The following dissertation looks at specific performers and musicians between the 1930s and 1970s to track a history where developments in work, distribution, and access generated interest in popular music and the recording industry while facilitating cultural value. Explicitly, the dissertation examines white, male musicians that influenced and demonstrated music as work and reflected cultural developments in the United States over that time.

From western swing musicians in Texas during the Depression and World War II, through a specific case study of Lubbock, Texas, and Buddy Holly in the 1940s and 1950s, to the monumental success and popularity of the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the 1960s and 1970s, the dissertation explores how popular music and rock ‘n’ roll emphasized worker productivity and output, and reshaped economic and cultural interactions within leisure and entertainment. The following dissertation directly evaluates the prominence of white, male musicians negotiating influential and idealized roles as workers and leaders in American society and culture. Rock ‘n’ roll holds an important role in American history and this dissertation explores how race, class, and gender factored to impact the music industry based on consumer demands and trends, including relevant technological and communications developments.



American -- History, Popular music, Rock 'n' roll, Great depression, World War II, Western swing, Holly, Buddy, Beatles, The, Dylan, Bob, Work, Revolution