Ready for A Brand New Beat
How "Dancing in the Street" Became the Anthem for A Changing AmericaBook - 2013
Can a song change a nation? In 1964, Marvin Gaye, record producer William 'Mickey' Stevenson, and Motown songwriter Ivy Jo Hunter wrote 'Dancing in the Street.' Recorded at Motown's Hitsville USA Studio by Martha and the Vandellas, it was supposed to be an upbeat dance recording - a precursor to disco, a song about the joyousness of dance, the song of a summer. But events overtook it, and the song became one of the anthems of American pop culture.
The Beatles landed in the United States in early 1964. By that summer, the '60s were in full swing. 1964 was the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Act, and the lead-up to a dramatic election that completely changed American politics. As the country grew more radicalized in those few months, 'Dancing in the Street' gained currency as an activist anthem. The song took on new meanings, multiple meanings, for many different groups that were all altered as the country changed.
From the writer legendary for finding the big story in unlikely places, Mark kurlansky's Ready for a Brand New Beat recounts that extraordinary time and showcases the role that a simple song about dancing played in our nation's history.
Praise for Mark Kurlansky
'Every once in a while a writer of particular skill takes a fresh, seemingly improbable idea and turns out a book of pure delight.' David McCullough
'Fascinating stuff . . . Kurlansky has a keen eye for odd facts and natural detail.' The Wall Street Journal
'Kurlansky continues to prove himself remarkably adept at taking a most unlikely candidate and telling its tale with epic grandeur.' Los Angeles Times