The Story of Italian American Song
A tribute to the pop music decade between World War II and the advent of the Beatles shares the stories behind 40 Italian-American classics, citing the influence of key performers and cultural barriers.
Amore is the personal Top 40 of one proud son of Italy; it is also a love song to Italian American culture and an evocation of an age that belongs to us all.
"Amore brings to mind nothing less than Martin Scorsese's documentaries on movie history. Rotella is an impassioned student of Italian American culture whose personal journey through the music of his heritage is a work of art itself."---David Hajdu, author of Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina
"What a beautiful thing is Amore! Rotella knows these singers like family, and he writes with a passion that turns each of their songs into a grace note about the uphill climb of Italians in America."---Anthony DePalma, author of City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11
"This book is a box of candy for those who love American popular songs, as I do---and those interested in the fate of Italian culture on American soil. In Amore, Mark Rotella has looked through the kaleidoscope of his attractive prose at a major postwar phenomenon---the emergence of Italian American music for a mass audience. What he finds here will delight readers, who will demand a sound track for this highly entertaining volume."---Jay Parini, author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Final Year
"By seamlessly blending personal memoir and historical insights about Italian American singers---all against an ever-changing America---Mark Rotella has produced a book that is big-hearted and flat-out beautiful."---Wil Haygood, author of In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.
"In this lively anecdotal history, full of engaging profiles and nice autobiographical touches, Mark Rotella explores how a whole wave of hugely talented Italian American singers dominated the pop charts in the 1940s and 1950s with sounds that have set a standard ever since."---Morris Dickstein, author of Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
Amore is a celebration of the music of the "Italian decade"---the years after World War II and before the Beatles when Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett, among others, won the hearts of the American public with a smooth, stylish, classy brand of pop.
"O sole mio," "All or Nothing at All," and "I Have But One Heart"; "I've Got the World on a String," "I Wonder Why," and "Fly Me to the Moon": the great songs of Italian American singers are now recognized as the equivalent of jazz standards---songs that provided the soundtrack for postwar America and convey a timeless style and grace today. But the story of how Italian American singers came to occupy pride of place in our musical life is fully told here for the first time---presented with a lighthearted ease and pleasure that befits the songs themselves. Mark Rotella follows the music from the opera houses and piazzas of southern Italy, to the barrooms of the Bronx and Hoboken, to the Copacabana, Brooklyn's Paramount Theatre, and the Vegas strip. He shows us the hardworking musicians whose voices were to become ubiquitous on jukeboxes and the radio and whose names---some anglicized, some not---have become bywords for Italian American success, even as the singers were dogged by stereotypes and
prejudice. From Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to doo-wop singers and fallen heroes like Russ Columbo and Bobby Darin, the stories of those singers and those songs---forty in all---are the story of America at mid-century: confident, radiant, and eager to spread amore all around.
Amore is the personal Top 40 of one proudson of Italy; it is also a love song to Italian American culture and an evocation of an age that belongs to us all.
A tribute to the pop music decade between World War II and the advent of the Beatles shares the stories behind 40 Italian-American classics--including "O Sole Mio," "Night and Day" and "Mack the Knife"--while citing the influence of key performers and cultural barriers.
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