Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We're back!

After a refreshing summer, the blog is back with all kinds of new trivia and tidbits. Stay tuned for more, and start off your day with some Chuck Berry via today's post reconstructing Rabbit Angstrom's playlist!

Rabbit Angstrom's playlist

The Impalas—part of the '50s soundscape
John Updike's Rabbit, Run famously begins with an intense forty pages in which the novel's eponymous protagonist, Rabbit Angstrom, drives from the fictional city of Brewer, Pennsylvania deep into Maryland and then back in the wake of a fight with his wife Janice. It's a great moment in postwar American literature—but what's often overlooked is that it also contains a detailed musical snapshot of pre-Beatles American rock and pop music. Updike catalogues the music Rabbit hears on the radio on his way south song by song, basically creating a "playlist" avant la lettre for his drive. Thanks to the latter-day magic of YouTube, with a little work, you can recreate Rabbit's entire late-fifties musical world—the perfect atmospheric background music for an afternoon of reading your copy of Goodbye, Columbus, Catch-22, Franny and Zooey, or Revolutionary Road, or for driving across state lines late at night on anger and disappointment. You can listen to the playlist I've assembled here, or use the hyperlinks in the text of the original passage below: