Listening for America
Listening for America Inside the Great American Songbook From Gershwin to Sondheim By Kapilow, Robert Book - 2019

Intense discussion of 16 songs from Broadway and movie musicals, with context (often wider than the original – Kern at least hated songwriting book musicals because he had to fit in context rather than doing whatever he wanted) and examples -- which are both printed in the book and hearable online (with markers tracking the piano-vocal scores as they're performed) -- a huge benefit for anyone (i.e., most of us) who can't immediately hear in their mind what they see in sheet music. All but the last one (“Finishing the Hat”) also show what an ordinary composer might have done to contrast with what the expert did. Some of his conclusions about context are arguable (by other writers, both of our times and closer to the originals) but this is overall a fascinating and worthwhile work for anyone with any interest in popular song (of which show music was a huge part in the period mostly covered).

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