The B Sideis about taste, and the particular economics and culture of songwriting, and the potential of popular art for greatness and beauty. It's destined to become a classic of American musical history.
Ben Yagoda is a journalism professor at the University of Delaware. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of twelve books, including About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made; How to Not Write Bad; Memoir: A History; and Will Rogers: A Biography. He contributes to The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Lingua Franca" blog and has written for Slate, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and The American Scholar, among other publications. Yagoda lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, with his wife.
Praise for The B Side
"Yagoda writes so engagingly, and has put in so much time and
effort, that one closes his book with the feeling that he has made
a significant contribution... [his] distillation of it all is a
lovely way to help perpetuate a most precious commodity." -- The
New York Times
[A] spirited history of American popular music. -- The New Yorker "Yagoda lubricates the gears of history with both his own humor and colorful anecdotes." -- Entertainment Weekly
"Wow, what a piece of work! I love it. The B Side is A PLUS." -- Dave Frishberg "A provocative, consistently engaging counternarrative to the conventional wisdom that rock 'n' roll killed Tin Pan Alley." -- Kirkus Reviews A great many books celebrate the pre-rock Great American Songbook. Ben Yagoda's highly original and shrewdly argued The B-Side isn't one of them. It tells how the Songbook emerged, but is more intent on dissecting its meretricious demise, and the way a new songbook emerged from the rubble. It is anecdotal, illuminating, and persuasive. -- Gary Giddins, author of Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams and Visions of Jazz [The B Side is] an entertaining and thoroughly researched exploration of America's songwriting history. With deftness of pen and skill, Yagoda has produced a work that will appeal to both musicologists and fans. -- Library Journal Essayist Yagoda energetically conducts a journey through the development of popular music in this vibrant piece of cultural history" -- Publishers Weekly "Actually, this wonderful chronicle is a B-side. . .This will be one big revelation for anyone steeped in a rock-centric understanding of pop history, and validation for those who treasure the Songbook in all its glory. And since these songs comprise so many strains of America's cultural DNA, everyone stands to walk away from this richly told saga with not only a song in her/his heart, but also fresh knowledge about how it got there." -- PopMatters "The B-Side is a must-read for anyone interested in the rise of rock and the shockwaves it sent through the American music business....Yagoda also poignantly conveys the pain of the generation pushed aside in the process." -- BookForum