384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 37 halftones, notes, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5487-4
Published: March 2020
Hardcover Available March 2020, but pre-order your copy today!
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In Athens in the eighties, if you were young and willing to live without much money, anything seemed possible. Cool Town reveals the passion, vitality, and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that became a model for others to follow. Grace Elizabeth Hale experienced the Athens scene as a student, small-business owner, and band member. Blending personal recollection with a historian's eye, she reconstructs the networks of bands, artists, and friends that drew on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way. In a story full of music and brimming with hope, Hale shows how an unlikely cast of characters in an unlikely place made a surprising and beautiful new world.
About the Author
Grace Elizabeth Hale is the Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia. Her previous books include A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America and Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940.
For more information about Grace Elizabeth Hale, visit the Author Page.
"A carefully constructed history of how Athens, Georgia became a cultural hot spot. . . . A welcome history of an overlooked milieu, one that provides ample inspiration for art makers today."--Kirkus Reviews
"Hale's rich, personal narrative draws readers in. . . . This colorfully rendered reverie will delight indie music fans."--Publishers Weekly
“Not only is Cool Town the most detailed account we'll get of the music of Athens, Georgia, the out-of-the-way college town that gave us the B-52's and R.E.M. It's also a thorough, deeply felt history of a seminal local bohemia that even as it matured changed the surrounding culture more than that culture changed it.”--Robert Christgau
“In Cool Town, Grace Hale captures the heyday of the Athens scene as she lived it: vibrant, surprising, full of possibility. The relationships formed, the songs and stories spun, the art created, the uncertainty embraced—all that continues to inspire four decades later. Hale doesn’t merely recall what happened. She explains it as well as one can. This remembrance of things not passed resonates all these years later and results in an essential read.”—Bertis Downs, adviser, R.E.M.
"'It was like New York City, only safer and cheaper.' This is the axiom American bohemia runs on--in few places more brilliantly than Athens, Georgia, in the eighties. From the B-52's reconfiguring drag as dance-punk to R.E.M. 'translating postmodern theory into sonic form,' to both bands' bittersweet commercial apexes, Hale's clear-eyed, heart-full testament depicts an era so radiant it felt like it could live a million years."--Michaelangelo Matos, author of Can't Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop's Blockbuster Year
“A delightful dive into the rich history of the Athens, Georgia, music and arts scene that has nurtured and inspired so many. Grace Hale experienced the scene firsthand, and her recollections are warm, but she doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. I was honored by her inclusion of Pylon as a central part of the story.”—Vanessa Briscoe Hay, vocalist, Pylon and Pylon Reenactment Society