Easy Riders, Rolling Stones: On the Road in America, from Delta Blues to 70s Rock

Scanlan, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2951-7823 (2015) Easy Riders, Rolling Stones: On the Road in America, from Delta Blues to 70s Rock. Reaktion Books, London. ISBN 9781780235295

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Easy Riders, Rolling Stones delves into the history of twentieth-century American popular music to explore the emergence of ‘road music’. This music – blues, RnB and rock – took shape at pivotal moments in this history, made by artists and performers who were, in various ways, seekers of freedom. Whether journeying across the country, breaking free from real or imaginary confines or in the throes of self-invention, they incorporated their experiences into scores of songs about travel and movement, and created a new kind of road culture.
Starting with the Mississippi Delta blues and tracking the emblematic highways of road music and the life of movement it represented, John Scanlan identifies ‘the road’ as the key to an uncompromising existence and an inspiration for musicians such as Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan. These artists also drew stimulus from the Beat movement, which was equally enthralled with the possibilities of travel. Quintessentially American ideas about freedom and travel would also greatly influence a generation of English bands, spearheaded by The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. And while they may have felt at times like foreigners adrift in the vastness of the U.S., they also found their spiritual home there, and glimpsed the possibility of a new kind of existence: on the road.
This rich account of a key strand of American music history will appeal to both road music fans and scholars who want to ‘head out on the highway’.

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