Blood On the Tracks: The Pain and Hope of America's Workers.
"America I've given you all and now I"m nothing.".
-Allan Ginsberg, "America" (1956).
Allan Ginsberg was not part of the baby boomer generation that made rock-n-roll famous. He was born in New Jersey in 1926, so his generation was more closely aligned to what Tom Brokaw would later refer to as "the greatest generation." (allanginsberg.com) He lived through the great depression and the Second World War. As Ginsberg grew older, he became dismayed by what he saw in America, it had become a place of industrialization and steel towns, a symbol of the pains of "progress," filled with souls who had given their lives to the American dream only to discover that they could never have it. (Scheurer) At about the same time as Ginsberg wrote the famous poem "America," rock-n-roll music was becoming the music of the lost myths of America.
Rock-n-roll was not an original creation; it drew heavily on what came before it. Mostly, though, rock music represented a merger between white country and black blues.
In the book Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock "n" Roll Music, Greil Marcus discusses country music prior to the birth of rock. Country music was music that entire communities listened to, linking each member to the group. Marcus writes:.
The songs of country music, and most deeply, its even, narrow sound, had to .
subject the children to the heartbreak of their parents: the father who couldn't.
feed his family, the wife who lost her husband to a honky-tonk angel or a bottle, .
the family that lost everything to a suicide or a farm spinning off into one more.
bad year. (Marcus, 133).
In other words, country music was the music for white working class families. Country music never crossed racial lines, though, and never gained acceptance in black culture. The music of the black working class was blues, which was more about guilt and damnation than country music was.