About the book
These are the songs that we have listened to, laughed to, loved to and laboured to, as well as downed tools and danced to.
Covering the last seven decades, Stuart Maconie looks at the songs that have sound tracked our changing times, and – just sometimes – changed the way we feel. Beginning with Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’, a song that reassured a nation parted from their loved ones by the turmoil of war, and culminating with the manic energy of ‘Bonkers’, Dizzee Rascal’s anthem for the push and rush of the 21st century inner city, The People’s Song’s takes a tour of our island’s pop music, and asks what it means to us.
The story of modern Britain is told chronologically over 50 chapters, through the records that we listened to and loved during the dramatic and kaleidoscopic period from the Second World War to the present day. This is not a rock critique about the 50 greatest tracks ever recorded. Rather, it is a celebration of songs that tell us something about how we have felt about things in our lives down the eras – work, war, class, leisure, race, family, drugs, sex, patriotism and more.
In times of prosperity or poverty this is the music that inspired haircuts and dance crazes, but also protest and social change. The companion to Stuart Maconie’s landmark Radio 2 series, The People’s Songs shows us the power of ‘cheap’ pop music, one of Britain’s greatest exports. These are the songs we have worked to and partied to, and grown up and grown old to – from ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ to ‘Rehab', ‘She Loves You’ to ‘Star Man’, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ to ‘Radio Ga Ga’.