Nicholas TochkaAug 14, 2023
Rocking in the Free World
Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America
Oxford University Press 2023
Progressive and libertarian, anti-Communist and revolutionary, Democratic and Republican, quintessentially American but simultaneously universal. By the late 1980s, rock music had acquired a dizzying array of political labels. These claims about its political significance shared one common thread: that the music could set you free.
Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America (Oxford UP, 2023) explains how Americans came to believe they had learned the truth about rock 'n' roll, a truth shaped by the Cold War anxieties of the Fifties, the countercultural revolutions (and counter-revolutions) of the Sixties and Seventies, and the end-of-history triumphalism of the Eighties. How did rock 'n' roll become enmeshed with so many different competing ideas about freedom? And what does that story reveal about the promise-and the limits-of rock music as a political force in postwar America?
Nicholas Tochka writes about the politics of postwar music-making in Eastern Europe and the Americas. In 2016, Oxford University Press published his first book, Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Socialist Albania. He is currently completing one project on citizenship in postsocialist Europe, and another about the invention of the Sixties in the United States. He works at the Conservatorium of Music, the University of Melbourne in Australia, and plays both bass and guitar.
Nicholas on Twitter.
Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.