A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music

A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music

A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music

A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music

Synopsis

An anthology that questions the roles gender plays in creating and marketing a great American musical form

Excerpt

However familiar their destination or the landmarks encountered along the way, some expeditions of the imagination seem to be repeated generation after generation, as if the very itinerary was hardwired into our genetic makeup. Like Orpheus or Ahab, we hunger after our private Eurydices and white whales, betting that the reward at journey's end will compensate for all the confusion and consternation that came before. In the context of American popular music, one of the most traveled paths leads to the satisfaction of an insatiable appetite for authenticity. Confronted by globalization, cross-media merchandising, and the vertigo-inducing transfer of entertainment properties between an ever-shrinking number of conglomerates, many people yearn for something unsullied by deal making, debt ceilings, and demographic surveys. Something that, notwithstanding its transformation into digital bits and bytes, will retain upon its broadly disseminated lines of code uncontested evidence of the sweat and spirit that led to its creation.

Inevitably, that appetite remains evanescent through and through, for it encourages the belief that the need to be compensated for any creative enterprise reduces that activity to nothing more or less than mercenary labor. We attach our investment in unvarnished communication to an ideological currency that invariably proves to be counterfeit when we separate the spheres of musical meaning from money making. As Joli Jensen pointedly observes, “Cultural products are not like shoes and sausages, and imagining their production as handicrafts that become tainted by industrial or market forces is . . .

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