While ballads have been a cornerstone of popular music for decades, this is the first book to explore the history and appeal of these treasured songs. David Metzer investigates how and why the styles of ballads have changed over a period of more than seventy years, offering a definition of the genre and discussing the influences of celebrated performers including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. The emotional power of the ballad is strongly linked to the popular mood of the time, and consequently songs can tell us much about how events and emotions were felt and understood in wider culture at specific moments of recent American history. Tracing both the emotional and stylistic developments of the genre from the 1950s to the present day, this lively and engaging volume is as much a musical history as it is a history of emotional life in America.
Table of Contents
Introduction: what is a ballad?; 1. The 1950s; Interlude I: Patsy Cline, 'Crazy'; 2. The soul ballad; Interlude II: It still hurts …; 3. The power ballad; Interlude III: Sarah McLachlan, 'Angel'; Interlude IV: hip hop ballads; 4. Indie ballads; Interlude V: I confess; Conclusion: goodbye; Selected bibliography; Index.