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Summary

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, NPR's acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America's primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from 19th-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-20th century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today's web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism - not merely sex but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy - became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America's anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect - a magnum opus over two decades in the making - Powers offers new insights into our national psyche and our soul.

©2017 Ann Powers (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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Profile Image for Katie D.
  • Katie D.
  • 12-06-21

Best music history book ever read

Full disclosure: The author is a friend of mine.

This is framed as a book about sex, but since sex pervades art (& let’s face it, life, since it’s pretty basic), it’s really about the history of American popular music. It goes farther back than any of the books in blues or country I’ve read & continues up through pop & grunge & hip hop & porn & & &... I’m amazed at the ground she covers. She started this book when I started teaching a course in the Anthropology of Sex, & she did an early guest lecture. This book has far more range & scope than my class ever managed while remaining anchored in The political economy of American popular culture. She writes with the theoretical insights of Greil Marcus but without losing the thread or her reader in postmodern word vomit.

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  • Harold C Shields
  • 27-04-18

Depth

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There was a lack of depth as we moved along in history...it seemed like a rush to finish which I did not..great premise but lack depth

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

more depth in the characters...this topic has been covered in various ways on tv and in smaller bites to explore depth of the music, lyrics and social connection

Did Teri Schnaubelt do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The development of music from new Orleans could have been deeper

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-02-18

Great Booty, & why not?

Format is straightforward history, content is fascinating. Make a playlist from all you learn! Why not focus on sex and its myriad musical forms?