There Was a Fire: Book
Ten years in the making, the book is Sidran's response to the fact that there was not a single work that comprehensively covered the participation of Jews in American popular music. It struck him as odd that a group never exceeding 2% of the population seemed to contribute 80% of the American songbook. Ben realized that he could write that book. He had no idea it would take 10 years.
Sidran says, "Along the way I learned a lot and in the end I think I answered some key questions, like Who is a Jew in America? What is Jewish about popular music in America? and What's the prognosis for the future?
Updated and Expanded, coming March 2021. Audio version available now.
“Ben Sidran has not just looked at but mastered a truly enormous range of materials from all over the place, and then put it together in an imaginative story that works all the way.”
-- Howard S. Becker, author of Outsiders and Art Worlds
"An extraordinary tour de force, weaving cultural, political, musical and economic history. Part textbook, part family history, Sidran is a warm, funny, and authoritative guide in this thrilling, adventurous social history of popular music. The insightful section on Dylan alone is worth several times the price of the book. A must-read for all music-lovers."
-- Daniel J. Levitin, author of the best-selling books This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs.
Jews, Music and the American Dream is born out of passion, brilliance and an unfettered imagination. Ben Sidran is a cultural observer of the highest order and this, his latest investigation, is a major work and instant classic.
-- David Ritz, author, Brother Ray – Ray Charles, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, and Blues All Around Me – B.B. King, and numerous other biographies.
Sidran's mind is an exquisite work of jazz. And in this his latest book he gives us an idiosyncratic personal and cultural history full of parable, anecdote, history, footnotes, and riff. But beautiful. (And spiritual.) He writes like he plays: with brilliance and surprise.
-- Lorrie Moore, author, A Gate at the Stairs, Birds of America, and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital
The Jewish influence on American music in the 20th century is incomparable. Happily, it no longer is immeasurable, thanks to Ben Sidran’s brilliant rendering of that story. His searching book, Jews, Music and the American Dream, presents a picture of American Jews, to be sure, but also illuminates the larger, American context.
-- Stanley Kutler, author, The Wars of Watergate, and numerous other writings.