Soft Serve

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“Either the ice cream man and his music are warmly symbolic of ‘Main Street USA,’ an idealized, mythic space resistant to objective curiosity; or ice cream truck music is a scourge on the urban soundscape, produce by tin-eared engineers whose saccharine and invasive noiseboxes drive neighborhoods to distraction. Neither approach seems particularly informative.”—Daniel Neely

A musicologist combed archives and spoke with a number of truck drivers and inventors to chart the evolution of that perennial summer anthem, the ice cream truck jingle.

Daniel Tannehill Neely received his Ph.D in ethnomusicology at New York University. He wrote his dissertation on Jamaican mento music and its relationship to cultural nationalism, and is also interested in traditional Irish music, and the music that comes from ice cream trucks. Neely writes and plays Irish music in New York City, where he lives with his wife and son.