1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About

1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About

1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About

1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About

Synopsis

In a tour de force of lyrical theory, Joshua Clover boldly reimagines how we understand both pop music and its social context in a vibrant exploration of a year famously described as "the end of history." Amid the historic overturnings of 1989, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, pop music also experienced striking changes. Vividly conjuring cultural sensations and events, Clover tracks the emergence of seemingly disconnected phenomena--from grunge to acid house to gangsta rap--asking if "perhaps pop had been biding its time until 1989 came along to make sense of its sensibility." His analysis deftly moves among varied artists and genres including Public Enemy, N.W.A., Dr. Dre, De La Soul, The KLF, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, U2, Jesus Jones, the Scorpions, George Michael, Madonna, Roxette, and others. This elegantly written work, deliberately mirroring history as dialectical and ongoing, summons forth a new understanding of how "history had come out to meet pop as something more than a fairytale, or something less. A truth, a way of being."

Excerpt

In 1989, Paris sang “La Marseillaise.” The new opera house was consecrated near the site of the Bastille prison, stormed two hundred years before, on July 14, 1789.

The Bicentennial coincided with the G7 Summit, opening in Paris that day. Led by tricolor-draped diva Jessye Norman, the finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the assembled heads of state served as a chorus for the triumphal singing of the revolutionary anthem in the Place de la Bastille, signaling the Bicentennial as an occasion for the whole of the First World. The spectacle of statecraft was orchestrated by JeanPaul Goude, former artistic director of Esquire magazine.

This commemoration would be entirely supplanted in public consciousness before the year’s end. The sanguine dénouement of the occupation in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square—sensationalized in the Western media in equal proportion to the Chinese state’s attempts at media suppression—had already rendered the French Bicentennial artifactual, mere revolution recollected. François Mitterrand’s press conference concluding the Summit was dominated by questions about China, and about the Soviet Union. He forecast no major changes. In less than four months, cascading European events would culminate in the opening of the border between East and West Germany and the disintegration of the Iron Curtain. By the end of December, 1989 could lay claim to having been the most geopolitically laden year since at least 1945.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.