Understanding Rock: Essays in Musical Analysis

By John Covach; Graeme M. Boone | Go to book overview

told by the woman, both gendered idioms are articulated by her; she therefore participates in the patriarchal stereotype of a weak female dominated by a strong male. However, she is not a passive victim, but literally goads him into violence. By encouraging the gendered roles, lang appears to assert that the woman is partly responsible for this social interaction. If she wants to be powerless in relation to a strong male, then she must be held accountable, to some extent, for the potential results. Lang is certainly not saying that the woman wants to be beaten‒she weeps after the beating‒nor is she saying that the woman is entirely responsible for her social situation‒she is behaving as she has been taught to do ‒ but lang is saying that the woman's desire for a femininity that is defined by male domination can lead to abuse. By realizing the potential results of this "femininity," she reminds women that it is dangerous to accept a passive role. Lang also explores, in her critical interpretation of the song, music's power to reflect and construct the gender roles of our culture.


Notes

Earlier versions of this chapter were presented at the British Music Analysis Conference in Southampton ( Mar. 1993) and the conference on Feminist Theory and Music II in Rochester ( June 1993). I wish to thank John Armstrong, David Lewin, and Susan McClary as well as the editors of this volume for their thoughtful comments on earlier drafts.

1.
Joanie Sommers, Johnny Get Angry, Warner 5275 ( 1962).
2.
k. d. lang and the reclines, Johnny Get Angry, performed live on the MuchMusic Big Ticket Special 1985); released on k. d. lang, Harvest of Seven Years ( Warner Reprise Video, 1991).
3.
I recognize that by doing so, I reduce her to a subordinate role, and that this is problematic. We will see that her role in the relationship is not merely subordinate; after all, she does taunt Johnny into a violent reaction.
4.
See, for instance, the Shirelles, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Scepter 1211 ( 1960); the Crystals, Then He Kissed Me, Philles 115 ( 1963); and the Shangri-Las, Leader of the Pack, Red Bird 014 ( 1964).
5.
Ruth Scovill, "Women's Music", in Women's Culture: The Renaissance of the Seventies, ed. Gayle Kimball (Metuchen and London: Scarecrow Press, 1981), 149.
6.
The Crystals, He Hit Me, label unknown ( 1962?). Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin , this song is discussed briefly in Gillian G. Gaar, She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll ( Seattle: Seal Press, 1992), 44-45, 118.
7.
Leslie Gore, You Don't Own Me, Mercury 72206 ( 1964). For extensive discussions of the role of women in rock music, see Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie, "Rock and Sexuality", Screen Education 29 ( 1978), reprinted in On Record: Rock, Pop, and the Written Word, ed. Simon Frith and Andrew Goodwin ( New York: Pantheon Books, 1990), 371-89; Sheryl Garratt , "Teenage Dreams", Signed, Sealed, and Delivered ( London: Pluto Press, 1984), reprinted in On Record, 399-409; Barbara Bradby, Do-Talk and Don't-Talk: The Division of the Subject in Girl-Group Music, in On Record, 341-68; Ray Pratt, "Women's Voices, Images, and Silences", in Rhythm and Resistance ( New York: Praeger Publishers, 1990), 143-74; Susan McClary , "Living to Tell: Madonna's Resurrection of the Fleshly", in Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 148-66; S. Kay Hoke , "American Popular Music", in Women and Music, ed. Karin Pendle ( Bloomington: Indi-

-111-

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Understanding Rock: Essays in Musical Analysis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Notes ix
  • Notes xi
  • Contents xv
  • Contributors xvii
  • 1: Progressive Rock, "Close to the Edge," and the Boundaries of Style 3
  • Notes 25
  • 2: After Sundown the Beach Boys' Experimental Music 33
  • Notes 54
  • Notes 59
  • Notes 89
  • Notes 111
  • 5: Swallowed by A Song Paul Simon's Crisis of Chromaticism 113
  • 6 155
  • Notes 166
  • Notes 171
  • Notes 206
  • Index 211
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