I've heard it often said that Americans don't understand what a long time is, but we have a strong grasp of what a long distance is, while Britons have a much better grasp of long histories and struggle to conceive of the distances that Americans regularly grapple with.
I don't think this is to say that America has a short history. It just has a short history that modern Americans care about. Cahokia was, after all, once the largest and most prosperous city in the world, overlooking the muddy breadth of the Mississippi mud.
(I wanted to acknowledge this in the show, by having the characters hear a snatch of a Navajo radio broadcast. Unfortunately, as I don't know any Navajo speakers and don't know where to begin getting a translation, let alone have any idea where we would find anyone able to deliver these lines. What could have been!)
But when we hear the word "Americana" what do we think about? George Washington and the Cherry Tree; Ben Franklin and his patronizing smile; Abraham Lincoln and his stovepipe hat; settlers and the (whitewashed, sanitized) cowboys pushing west...but also Route 66 and roadside kitsch; strange lights in the desert and things from other worlds; roadside diners where the food is greasy and unsanitary but you eat it anyway, and the waitress is beautiful and friendly and the coffee she pours is for you and you alone.
Clearly, there is very much going on here, and not much of it hangs together. I would argue, personally, that there are either three or five periods of Americana. The five periods, I would say, are: Colonial-Antebellum; the Old West; the Gilded Age; the Hardboiled period (including everything from the 1920s-1940s;) and the Pax Americana, which includes everything from 1950 to the First of September, 1993.
The more useful model, since I'm not communicating this to a bunch of academics, I would say, goes as follows: Fireside Americana; Radio Americana; and Television Americana. The Fireside and the Television are the two biggest stretches for our storytelling, with the Radio as the transitional, hopeful-monster-intermediate between the two longer periods.
While there are probably scholars who have a lot to say on it, and who might strongly object to my classification, here's my take:
Fireside Americana is everything that goes from the Founders of the United States and Washington Irving all the way through Mark Twain (the Pre-Republican era is another matter, a largely forgotten field upon which strange events play out and we only really think about it in the context of it leading to the Revolutionary War.) It's a hardwood, warmly-lit sort of aesthetic, smelling of smoke and tinged with road-dust and sea salt, a quarrelsome style for the country once known as the "alcoholic republic."
Television Americana is everything from the end of World War II to the opening of the internet. It's Jack Kerouac and Buddy Holly through John Hughes. It's chrome and plastic, smelling of petrochemical fumes and summer days in the city, with all of the attendant filth, it's roadside kitsch and pink plastic flamingos, it's long roadtrips taken for the hell of it and probably ends up on a beach somewhere. It is, by and large, an aesthetic of individualism and consumption.
Radio sits between the two. Faulkner looks backward but sits here firmly, and you also have Steinbeck and Raymond Chandler carving out their own niches. Hardwood, but with electric lights strung up. It's the Americana of the Private Eye, the Carny, and Okie; it's the Little Red Songbook and the Tommy Gun. It's travel by road through treacherous country to escape hardship, but done by car. It's less summery, less sunny, more night-time. It's an aesthetic of obscurity, with hard positions popping up and thrusting up like high-rises emerging from the mist. It ended with World War II and the start of the Cold War (I would say a big part of this was the general rightward turn of American Culture, and possibly even the specific institution of the Taft-Hartley Act, but I digress.)
Perdition's Teeth is, in many ways, an attempt to marry contemporary trends in storytelling and weird fiction to the aesthetics of Radio Americana. There's the general fact that it's an audio drama, but there's also the prominent appearance of the IWW, the Pinkertons, and a westward journey that nods a bit to The Grapes of Wrath.
It is, in short, an attempt to recapture those early days of Mass Media, and draw upon an aesthetic tradition that has been buried beneath the chrome-and-plastic veneer, but lies buried there, ready to have a layer of varnish applied and start singing "Bread and Roses" again.