Sonata for Jukebox by Geoffrey O'Brien
Pop Music, Memory, and the Imagined Life

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From one of our most original essayists and critics, a wide-ranging, freewheeling, utterly brilliant foray into the last fifty years of pop music and the multitudinous ways to hear it. Dazzling and original, Sonata for Jukebox is a brilliant foray into how pop music has woven itself into our lives since the dawn of the recording age. Geoffrey O'Brien has delved into 20th-century pop music as we experience it: a phenomenon that is at once public and private; personal yet popular. This is not a history of pop music, although fragments of that history find their way into its pages. It is not a memoir, although it is an entertaining biography of the author's ears and his family's exceptional affinity with pop music-his father was a leading New York DJ and his grandfather led a dance band in Philadelphia. It is an exploration of what listeners hear, what they think they hear, and how they connect it with the rest of their lives. The dizzying array of musical references will play through the reader's mind like a soundtrack as O'Brien explores how lives are lived in the presence-and in the memory of the presence-of music.

About Geoffrey O'Brien

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Geoffrey O'Brien is a poet and prose writer. He has been honored with a Whiting Award and contributes regularly to The New York Review of Books, Artforum, Film Comment, and other journals. He is editor-in-chief of The Library of America and lives in New York City
Published March 1, 2004 by Counterpoint Press. 328 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The song is the place where perfection stays.” O’Brien offers chewy ruminations on Brian Wilson and the Beatles, on minor-key melodies like “Greensleeves” and “Oranges and Lemons”: “universal folk music that dares to propose unhappy endings not only for individual lives but for life itself.” Musi...

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Publishers Weekly

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An essay on Harry Smith's groundbreaking Anthology of American Folk Music collection of recordings examines how, for "a generation that lacked much sense of common national tradition it became the equivalent of Percy's 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.' " Most striking, however, are the essa...

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New York Magazine

Geoffrey O’Brien uses the pop music he grew up with as the madeleine to unlock his memory.

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