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The Sound of History

Roy Palmer
Date Published
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This wide-ranging survey, part-anthology, part-social history provides a unique study of popular song.

Tender or harsh, fleeting or long-remembered, song has always been a vehicle for the expression of popular feeling, often as the voice of the oppressed or of those in opposition to the power fo the State.
It has won high praise:

‘Magical . . . These popular songs tell us of life’s pleasures and pains from the cradle to the grave, of work and play, sport and sex, loving and leaving, the town and the country . . . A book both heart-rending and heart-warming. It is Palmer’s achievement to attune our ears to the sounds of the past.’ Roy Porter in the Sunday Times


Roy Palmer was educated at Manchester University where he obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees. He taught for many years, the last eleven as head of a Birmingham comprehensive school, before taking early retirement. Involved from the 1960s in singing and seeking traditional songs, his collection of field recordings is now in the Recorded Sound Archive at the British Library. Since…

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