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An original book to accompany Stuart Maconie's landmark Radio 2 series: a history of post-war Britain through pop music

These are the songs that we have listened to, laughed to, loved to and laboured to, as well as downed tools and danced to.

Covering the last seven decades, Stuart Maconie looks at the songs that have sound tracked our changing times, and – just sometimes – changed the way we feel. Beginning with Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’, a song that reassured a nation parted from their loved ones by the turmoil of war, and culminating with the manic energy of ‘Bonkers’, Dizzee Rascal’s anthem for the push and rush of the 21st century inner city, The People’s Songs takes a tour of our island’s pop music, and asks what it means to us.

This is not a rock critique about the 50 greatest tracks ever recorded. Rather, it is a celebration of songs that tell us something about a changing Britain during the dramatic and kaleidoscopic period from the Second World War to the present day. Here are songs about work, war, class, leisure, race, family, drugs, sex, patriotism and more, recorded in times of prosperity or poverty. This is the music that inspired haircuts and dance crazes, but also protest and social change.

The companion to Stuart Maconie’s landmark Radio 2 series, The People’s Songs shows us the power of ‘cheap’ pop music,­ one of Britain’s greatest exports. These are the songs we worked to and partied to, and grown up and grown old to – from ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ to ‘Rehab', ‘She Loves You’ to ‘Star Man’, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ to ‘Radio Ga Ga’.

Reviews

One of the most insightful and purely readable books on pop music I think I have ever encountered

Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail

An unequivocal pleasure and highly recommended

Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail

The blend of research and conjecture is impressive

Will Hodgkinson, The Times

Maconie succeeds in being at once elegant and approachable, definititive but also self-deprecating

Guardian

A fine writer: sharp, funny, tender and thoughtful

Spectator

Beautiful stuff, gorgeously crafted

Miranda Sawyer

An engaging musical history lesson full of dry Wigan wit.

NME

If there’s a purer, more joyous and affectionate tribute to the power of popular songs, then I’d like to read it…

DAILY MAIL

Maconie’s history of modern Britain filtered through pop songs is a fine example of a perfect marriage: Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again conjures up the British wartime resilience while The Strawbs’ Part of the Union sums up the bitter industrial conflict that defined the 1970s

DAILY MAIL

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780091933807

    April 15, 2014

    Ebury Press

    448 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Trade Paperback

    9780091946845

    June 15, 2013

    Ebury Press

    432 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781409033189

    June 6, 2013

    Ebury Digital

    448 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Stuart Maconie

Long Road from Jarrow
The Pie At Night
How to Survive on Tour with a Rock Band
Hope and Glory
Adventures on the High Teas
Pies and Prejudice
Cider With Roadies

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Hope and Glory
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The Long Weekend
Charles: The Heart of a King
Shopgirls
High Minds
What's in a Surname?
Working Lives
A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England