New Release Books by David Hajdu

David Hajdu is the author of A Revolution in Three Acts (2021), Adrianne Geffel: A Fiction (2020), Love for Sale (2016), Lush Life (2013) and other 5 books.

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A Revolution in Three Acts

release date: Sep 21, 2021
A Revolution in Three Acts
Bert Williams—a Black man forced to perform in blackface who challenged the stereotypes of minstrelsy. Eva Tanguay—an entertainer with the signature song “I Don’t Care” who flouted the rules of propriety to redefine womanhood for the modern age. Julian Eltinge—a female impersonator who entranced and unnerved audiences by embodying the feminine ideal Tanguay rejected. At the turn of the twentieth century, they became three of the most provocative and popular performers in vaudeville, the form in which American mass entertainment first took shape. A Revolution in Three Acts explores how these vaudeville stars defied the standards of their time to change how their audiences thought about what it meant to be American, to be Black, to be a woman or a man. The writer David Hajdu and the artist John Carey collaborate in this work of graphic nonfiction, crafting powerful portrayals of Williams, Tanguay, and Eltinge to show how they transformed American culture. Hand-drawn images give vivid visual form to the lives and work of the book’s subjects and their world. This book is at once a deft telling of three intricately entwined stories, a lush evocation of a performance milieu with unabashed entertainment value, and an eye-opening account of a key moment in American cultural history with striking parallels to present-day questions of race, gender, and sexual identity.

Adrianne Geffel: A Fiction

release date: Sep 22, 2020
Adrianne Geffel: A Fiction
This never-before-told story of the life and work of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon is "a revealing?and at times hilarious?satire of the music business, fame, and the cult of personality" (Clea Simon, Boston Globe). Adrianne Geffel was a genius. Praised as the “Geyser of Grand Street” and the “Queen of Bleak Chic,” she was a one-of-a-kind artist, a pianist and composer with a rare neurological condition that enabled her to make music that was nothing less than pure, unmediated emotional expression. She and her sensibility are now fully integrated into the cultural lexicon; her music has been portrayed, represented, and appropriated endlessly in popular culture. But what do we really know about her? Despite her renown, Adrianne Geffel vanished from public life, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. David Hajdu cuts through the noise to tell, for the first time, the full story of Geffel’s life and work, piecing it together through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her—her parents, teachers, best friend, manager, critics, and lovers. Adrianne Geffel made music so strange, so compelling, so utterly unique that it is simply not to be believed. Hajdu has us believing every note of it in this slyly entertaining work of fiction. A brilliantly funny satire, with characters that leap off the page, Adrianne Geffel is a vividly twisted evocation of the New York City avant-garde of the 1970s and ’80s, and a strangely moving portrait of a world both utterly familiar and like none we’ve ever encountered.

Love for Sale

release date: Oct 18, 2016
Love for Sale
A personal, idiosyncratic history of popular music that also may well be definitive, from the revered music critic From the age of song sheets in the late nineteenth-century to the contemporary era of digital streaming, pop music has been our most influential laboratory for social and aesthetic experimentation, changing the world three minutes at a time. In Love for Sale, David Hajdu—one of the most respected critics and music historians of our time—draws on a lifetime of listening, playing, and writing about music to show how pop has done much more than peddle fantasies of love and sex to teenagers. From vaudeville singer Eva Tanguay, the “I Don’t Care Girl” who upended Victorian conceptions of feminine propriety to become one of the biggest stars of her day to the scandal of Blondie playing disco at CBGB, Hajdu presents an incisive and idiosyncratic history of a form that has repeatedly upset social and cultural expectations. Exhaustively researched and rich with fresh insights, Love for Sale is unbound by the usual tropes of pop music history. Hajdu, for instance, gives a star turn to Bessie Smith and the “blues queens” of the 1920s, who brought wildly transgressive sexuality to American audience decades before rock and roll. And there is Jimmie Rodgers, a former blackface minstrel performer, who created country music from the songs of rural white and blacks . . . entwined with the sound of the Swiss yodel. And then there are today’s practitioners of Electronic Dance Music, who Hajdu celebrates for carrying the pop revolution to heretofore unimaginable frontiers. At every turn, Hajdu surprises and challenges readers to think about our most familiar art in unexpected ways. Masterly and impassioned, authoritative and at times deeply personal, Love for Sale is a book of critical history informed by its writer's own unique history as a besotted fan and lifelong student of pop.

Lush Life

release date: Apr 26, 2013
Lush Life
Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) was one of the most accomplished composers in American music, the creator of such standards as "Take the 'A' Train", yet all his life he was overshadowed by his friend and collaborator, Duke Ellington. Through scrutiny of Strayhorn's private papers and more than five hundred interviews, Hajdu revives Strayhorn as one of the most complex and tragic figures in jazz history.

Positively 4th Street

release date: Apr 26, 2011
Positively 4th Street
The story of how four young bohemians on the make - Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez, and Richard Farina - converged in Greenwich Village, fell into love, and invented a sound and a style that are one of the most lasting legacies of the 1960s When Bob Dylan, age twenty-five, wrecked his motorcycle on the side of a road near Woodstock in 1966 and dropped out of the public eye, he was recognized as a genius, a youth idol, and the authentic voice of the counterculture: and Greenwich Village, where he first made his mark as a protest singer with an acid wit and a barbwire throat, was unquestionably the center of youth culture. So embedded are Dylan and the Village in the legend of the Sixties--one of the most powerful legends we have these days--that it is easy to forget how it all came about. In Positively Fourth Street, David Hajdu, whose 1995 biography of jazz composer Billy Strayhorn was the best and most popular music book in many seasons, tells the story of the emergence of folk music from cult practice to popular and enduring art form as the story of a colorful foursome: not only Dylan but his part-time lover Joan Baez - the first voice of the new generation; her sister Mimi - beautiful, haunted, and an artist in her own right; and her husband Richard Farina, a comic novelist (Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me) who invented the worldliwise bohemian persona that Dylan adopted--some say stole--and made as his own. The story begins in the plain Baez split-level house in a Boston suburb, moves to the Cambridge folk scene, Cornell University (where Farina ran with Thomas Pynchon), and the University of Minnesota (where Robert Zimmerman christened himself Bob Dylan and swapped his electric guitar for an acoustic and a harmonica rack) before the four protagonists converge in New York. Based on extensive new interviews and full of surprising revelations, Positively Fourth Street is that rare book with a new story to tell about the 1960s. It is, in a sense, a book about the Sixties before they were the Sixties--about how the decade and all that it is now associated with it were created in a fit of collective inspiration, with an energy and creativity that David Hajdu captures on the page as if for the first time.

Heroes and Villains

release date: Nov 01, 2010
Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu' award - winning author of The Ten - Cent Plague' Positively 4th Street' and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial' Hajdu's essays take on topics as varied as pop music' jazz' th...

The Ten-Cent Plague

release date: Feb 03, 2009
The Ten-Cent Plague
Examines the influence of comic books on the evolution of American popular culture in the years between World War II and the emergence of television, focusing on the battle against comic books by church groups, community elite, and a right-wing Congress.

Discovering Great Singers of Classic Pop

release date: Jun 23, 1999
Discovering Great Singers of Classic Pop
Surveys the work of thirty-eight great singers

How to Shoot Your Kids on Home Video

release date: Jan 01, 1988
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