Paperback / softback
October 9, 2012
9781558499690
English
136
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.5 Pounds (US)
$23.95 USD
v2.1 Reference

The Mistakes of Yesterday, the Hopes of Tomorrow

The Story of the Prisonaires

Early in the morning on June 1, 1953, five African American men boarded a van to make the 200-mile trip from Nashville to Memphis for a daylong recording session at the legendary Sun Studios, to be overseen by Sun founder Sam Phillips. One of the two tracks cut that day, "Just Walkin' in the Rain," would go on to become a regional R&B hit, Sun Records' biggest record of the pre-Elvis era. It would, however, be the group's only hit. They were the Prisonaires, a vocal quintet who had honed their skills while inmates at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville.

In this book, John Dougan tells the story of the Prisonaires, their hit single, and the afterlife of this one remarkable song. The group and the song itself represent a compelling concept: imprisoned men using music as a means of cultural and personal survival. The song was re-recorded by white singer Johnnie Ray, who made it a huge hit in 1956. Over the years, other singers and groups would move the song further away from its origins, recasting the deep emotions that came from creating music in a hostile, controlled environment.

The story of the Prisonaires, for all of its triumphs, reflects the disappointment of men caught in a paradoxical search for personal independence while fully cognizant of a future consigned to prison. Their brief career and the unusual circumstances under which it flourished sheds light on the harsh realities of race relations in the pre–Civil Rights South. The book also provides a portrait of Nashville just as it was gaining traction as a nationally recognized music center.

About the Author

John Dougan is professor of music business and popular music studies in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University and author of The Who Sell Out.

Review

"With sophistication and nuance, Dougan demonstrates that the Prisonaires' story is also the story of the American racial obsession, of the judicial system, of the architecture of the prison itself. He also manages to show how, if one listens carefully to the Prisonaires (or any of the subsequent music influenced by them), these subjects are there, in the musical mix itself, all the time. You can hear them, if you know how to listen. And Dougan knows how to teach us to listen."—Rachel Rubin, coeditor of American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century

"An in-depth analysis of the brief career of Sun Records' pre-Elvis one-hit wonders and Tennessee State Penitentiary residents, Mistakes stands at the intersection of musicology and penology, a document of the collision of the music and penal industries in postwar, pre-civil rights-era Music City. It's a story—masterfully researched, richly detailed and lovingly told—hinged on one of the most iconic close-harmony songs in pop history."—Nashville Scene

"Dougan does a good job of providing the story of the Prisonaires including a good account of Nashville, the penal system of Tennessee, the musical environments of Nashville and Memphis, and the general condition of blacks in pre- and post-war Nashville."—The Common Reader
University of Massachusetts Press
American Popular Music

9781558499690 : the-mistakes-of-yesterday-the-hopes-of-tomorrow-dougan
Paperback / softback
136 Pages
$23.95 USD

Other Titles from American Popular Music

The Honky Tonk on the Left

edited by Mark Allan Jackson
May 2018 - University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$32.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Country Comes to Town

Jeremy Hill
Dec 2015 - University of Massachusetts Press
$26.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Bounce

Matt Miller
May 2012 - University of Massachusetts Press
$25.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in SOCIAL SCIENCE / General

Getting Out

Keith Morton
Aug 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$26.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Taking Possession

Heidi Aronson Kolk
May 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback

At Home

Beth Luey
Apr 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$90.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in Ethical issues & debates

For a Short Time Only

Peter Benes
Feb 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
$39.99 USD - Electronic book text

Younger Than That Now

Holly V. Scott
Feb 2019 - University of Massachusetts Press
$20.99 USD - Electronic book text

Books for Idle Hours

Donna Harrington-Lueker
Dec 2018 - University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback