David Metzer’s book opens with a provocative question: what is a ballad? Metzer answers this question by way of an ambitious romp through the history of the ballad in popular music over the past seventy years. In his opening acknowledgments he states that he wanted to write a book that would be accessible and engaging to a general reader who loves ballads. To this end, Metzer does not constrain the flow of his journey with rigorously theorized definitions or by situating his work within the broader context of popular music studies. Readers familiar with previous scholarly works on ballads will nonetheless find Metzer’s idiosyncratic and personal...

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