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The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records

Stuart Maconie

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Published by Ebury Press, part of Ebury Publishing

Format: Hardback


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EAN: 9780091933791
Published: 6 Jun 2013


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’.

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What the critics say

One of the most insightful and purely readable books on pop music I think I have ever encountered
- Daily Mail

An unequivocal pleasure and highly recommended
- Daily Mail

The blend of research and conjecture is impressive
- The Times

Maconie succeeds in being at once elegant and approachable, definititive but also self-deprecating
- Guardian

A fine writer: sharp, funny, tender and thoughtful
- Spectator

A lifetime of listening and reading and thinking has gone into this project, and the result is one of the most insightful and purely readable books on pop music I think I have ever encountered
- Daily Mail

Stuart Maconie's tour of pop is an elegant and unexpected take on music as social history
- Guardian

A very engaging writer with a remarkably broad frame of reference
- Mail on Sunday

As funny as Bryson and as wise as Orwell
- Observer

He'll be on the national treasure list pretty soon
- The Times

About the Author

Stuart Maconie is a writer, broadcaster and journalist familiar to millions from his work in print, on radio and on TV. His previous bestsellers have included Cider with Roadies, Pies and Prejudice and Adventures on the High Teas, and he currently hosts the afternoon show on BBC 6music with Mark Radcliffe as well as weekly show The Freak Zone. Based in the cities of Birmingham and Manchester, he can also often be spotted on top of a mountain in the Lake District with a Thermos flask and individual pork pie.

Stuart Maconie

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