While music lovers and music historians alike understand that folk
music played an increasingly pivotal role in American labor and
politics during the economic and social tumult of the Great
Depression, how did this relationship come to be? Ronald D. Cohen
sheds new light on the complex cultural history of folk music in
America, detailing the musicians, government agencies, and record
companies that had a lasting impact during the 1930s and beyond.
Covering myriad musical styles and performers, Cohen narrates a
singular history that begins in nineteenth-century labor politics
and popular music culture, following the rise of unions and
Communism to the subsequent Red Scare and increasing power of the
Conservative movement in American politics--with American folk and
vernacular music centered throughout. Detailing the influence and
achievements of such notable musicians as Pete Seeger, Big Bill
Broonzy, and Woody Guthrie, Cohen explores the intersections of
politics, economics, and race, using the roots of American folk
music to explore one of the United States' most troubled times.
Becoming entangled with the ascending American left wing, folk
music became synonymous with protest and sharing the troubles of
real people through song.