BALLADS, BLUES AND THE BIG BEAT by Donald Myrus

BALLADS, BLUES AND THE BIG BEAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author, who made a strong case for his opinion I Like Jazz (1964), imposes his attitudes all too readily in this book, subtitled Highlights of American Folk Singing from Leadbelly to Dylan. When he discusses musicians, it is not really annoying that he suggests that ""Everyone to their own taste"" be ""applicable to styles of singing in contemporary America,"" or that he evaluates music according to his own clearly stated likes and dislikes--it's a frank and enthusiastically personal approach. What is disturbing is his uncurbed tendency to accept the song lyrics literally and to waver from his subject with baldly stated irrelevancies. The longest chapter is the one following the introduction and it deals with protest songs--it's a rambling account, which digresses to include, for instance, W.H. Auden's definition of genius in the foreword to Hammarskjold's Markings, the scenario of the movie Billy Liar, an explanation that suburbia breeds conformity (""Those with unusual work (sculpturing, say) or unusual play (walking) don't get to suburbia..."") and the rest of the book wanders with almost as much energetic illogic. Myrus points out the war between generations (""a war in which teenagers and those in their twenties struggle against the Square World"") and this reads like a bid for acceptance. It's like the picture books with imitation child-like drawings--the audience is discriminating enough to want something more mature.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1966
Publisher: Macmillan