Two Books still in print:

America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, 2006 (co-authored with Philip Furia)

America's Songs II: From the 1890's to the Post War Years, 2013

Check out Amazon.com to order.

America's Songs II - Songs from the 1890's to the Post-War Years

By Michael Lasser

Published by Routledge, December 2013
Now available in bookstores and on the web
Trade Paperback list price $29.95

Click the image of the book cover to
read the Introduction from the book.

America's Songs II Cover

"The book [is] an engaging read of creative impulses from song to song in chronological order... A good resource for those interested in the history of these songs and the composers who wrote them... Recommended." -- M. Goldsmith, Elms College, CHOICE (September 2014)

Michael Lasser has given us an abundance of fascinating facts and appealing and delightful anecdotes about songs that have been familiar to me for so much of my life, that I tend to regard them as old friends. My fondness for these ‘old friends’ whets my curiosity about their origins and about the songwriters who wrote them – I believe that the millions who continue to respond to the music of composers like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Jule Styne will derive pleasure from getting to know something about these songs and these writers, too. – Sheldon Harnick, Lyricist, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorello

 America’s Songs II provides cogent insights into the popular song repertory, and Michael Lasser’s passion for the topic and thorough knowledge are clearly evident. The entries on individual songs are eminently readable and entertaining, making this book a fine complement to America’s Songs. William A. Everett, Professor of Musicology, University of Missouri - Kansas City

America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890’s to the Post-War Years tells more stories behind the most beloved popular songs of the last century, revealing the many ways in which the creative collaborations between composer and lyricist led to songs that combined rich melodies, sophisticated harmonies, and smart rhythms with lyrics that reflected the slangy vitality of American speech, creating music both timeless and emotionally resonant. This companion to the bestselling America’s Songs reveals how intention and tuition, hard work and good luck, and beneath it all, an implicit sense of mastery, helped craft some of these golden standards of American musical history, and uncovers a rich trove of anecdotes that explore the intricacies of these dynamic relationships between some of the 20thcentury’s most well-known composers and lyricists.

 Beginning with the transformation of Tin Pan Alley in the 1890s and ending with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and emergence of youth culture in the 1950s, the book also traces how ragtime, jazz, and the blues spread across the country to reshape American music in the century’s first decades, and how that music played a major role in changing American attitudes and behavior. 

 

America's Songs I and II Bundle

By Michael Lasser

This bundle, comprised of America’s Songs I and II, provides readers with a comprehensive overview of the stories behind the popular songs in our country’s history. America’s Songs takes a particular focus on the songs that emerged from the popular musicals and films coming out of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, while America’s Songs II offers detailed insights into some of the most popular American songs from the 1890’s to the post-war years. Each volume is organized as a collection of short, easy-to-read essays and outlines the historical context, inspiration, creation, and popularity behind some of the well-loved "standards" of American musical history in the twentieth century. The America’s Songs I and II Bundle will serve as the ideal reference guide for students, as a supplement in American music courses, or as a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the songs that America loves.

 

America’s Songs I - The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley

By Philip Furia and Michael Lasser

Published by Routledge, May 2006
Now available in bookstores and on the web
Trade paperback list price $31.95

"Philip Furia and Michael Lasser's America's Songs has been required reading for me and for everyone on the Orchestra's staff. It is a fantastic boo
k.” --  Erich Kunzel
Conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

“A fascinating new book.” -- Howard Kissel, Drama Critic, New York Daily News

"A Wonderful Book"  -- Tom Strini, Music Critic, Milwaukee Journal Standard

“Song,” the book begins, “is the most beloved of the arts.”  And this book is in love with songs – mainly with American songs from the first half of the twentieth century, when our greatest songwriters – from Irving Berlin to George and Ira Gershwin, from Cole Porter to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein – were at the height of their powers. 

Writing about the greatest songs of the “Golden Age of American Song,” the book shows how they join music and words, sentiment and wit, into a seamless whole. It also traces the unpredictable give-and-take between composer and lyricist that results in a finished song. 

You’ll come closer to knowing why you love your favorite songs, and you’ll see songwriters in a more human light than ever before.

Some readers will want to trace the songs chronologically from cover to cover, from “Some of These Days” in 1910 to “New York, New York” in 1977. Others will take a more spontaneous approach: open to a page and start to read.  One reader emailed: 

 "This is a good book just to pick up, read 20 pages, and come back to it a couple of days later and not miss a beat. You find yourself humming the songs as you’re reading about them."

Check out the listing of booksellers on the Links page.

 

   

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