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A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  33 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Part of the Jewish Encounter series

In A Fine Romance, David Lehman looks at the formation of the American songbook—the timeless numbers that became jazz standards, iconic love songs, and sound tracks to famous movies—and explores the extraordinary fact that this songbook was written almost exclusively by Jews.

An acclaimed poet, editor, and cultural critic, David Lehman hea
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Schocken (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jun 11, 2012 mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: musique
Until the halfway point of this book, despite glossing over whole pages except for the song-title name-dropping, I was prepared to be charitable with a three-star review. But as with so many who celebrate the era of the jazz standard, he moves on to complete denigration of everything that came after.

He happily quotes someone who says Elvis was music for ten-year-olds, just a notch above nursery rhymes, a byproduct of a culture when music had been so commoditized that children could afford to buy
Jan 08, 2012 Mitchell rated it did not like it
On page 115 of this book, David Lehman writes, ' I will write up my love of American popular song and its Jewish creators and I will write it straight, leaving myself out of it.' If only he did!

By this point in the book we are accosted by fictional interviews with the great song and lyric writers, inconsequential autobiographical anectdotes as well as cringe-inducing flights of fancy such as his imagining Harold Arlen and Jerome Kern as his uncles Harry and Jerry at his childhood synagogue.

Timothy Mosher
Sep 07, 2015 Timothy Mosher rated it liked it
Lehman's book has many good features, especially his loving coverage of standards and intriguing biographical elements. However, he puts down music that comes later, a tactic both unnecessary to his purpose and small-minded. It cost him a star.
Nov 26, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The author's love for the Great American Songbook, which was created largely by Jewish immigrants and their children, shines through in virtually every sentence. This is not a an abstract scholarly work; it is personal story, full of passion and the kind of insights that come only to one who truly loves the subject matter with all of her/his heart.

And what a tale, of assimilation and ambiguity and wit and urbanity and art and extraordinary talent.
Dec 23, 2010 Mary rated it it was ok
This tries to be too many different things--from personal memoir to the
history of Jewish influence on American popular music from Old Testament
times to Bob Dylan. Sometimes interesting, sometimes just a catalog of
what you could look up more easily by googling. Nice try though.
Lawrence Epstein
Apr 26, 2012 Lawrence Epstein rated it it was amazing
This is just a great book. You can hear the songs as you read. David Lehman is not just filled with knowledge, not just a wonderful writer, but a true fan. His love of the material comes through on every page.
May 16, 2010 Carrie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: twenty-ten
Fun read about the classics, what the author calls Broadway's golden age. Sort of wish he'd kept going and talked about Sondheim, but I understand how that doesn't really fit into his arc. Yaaaay Jews.
Oct 13, 2013 Laurie rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-interest
Interesting mix of personal history and the songs and their writers.
Dorianne Laux
Apr 16, 2010 Dorianne Laux rated it it was amazing
Really great so far. Takes me back to the songs of my childhood.
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David Lehman is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.
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