chapter  Fifteen
Shoddy Equipment for Living? Deconstructing the Tin Pan Alley song
ByRose Rosengard Subotnik
Pages 14

Among Americans born since the end of the Second World War, the reasons are not hard to find. Even today, young people are strongly drawn, as were their parents, to "personal confession, 'honesty,' and one-to-one communication between the singer and whoever is listening." Of course, earlier generations of young people loved Tin Pan Alley songs. The essayist Joseph Epstein has memorably encapsulated the difference: Before Rock and After Rock, is one of the great, perhaps the uncrossable, divisions of the humankind. The gist of Hayakawa's argument is an indictment of Tin Pan Alley lyrics both for their content and for their social effect. Hayakawa defines the Tin Pan Alley song as a genre focused on an unrealistic, idealized concept of romantic love as a kind of magic that comes out of nowhere and attaches to a perfect and irreplaceable beloved.