Academic journal article American Studies

POP WHEN THE WORLD FALLS APART: Music in the Shadow of Doubt

Academic journal article American Studies

POP WHEN THE WORLD FALLS APART: Music in the Shadow of Doubt

Article excerpt

POP WHEN THE WORLD FALLS APART: Music in the Shadow of Doubt. Edited by Eric Weisbard. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2012.

The third in a series of collections drawn from the proceedings of the Pop Con- ference at the Experience Music Project, Pop When the World Falls Apart brings together eighteen brief essays that deal in some way with the role of music and music criticism in a time of conflict and strife. Based on papers presented between 2006 and 2008, the essays share a backdrop that includes seemingly endless wars, Hurricane Katrina, the uncertain transformation or death of the music industry, the disappearance of music (and film and literary) criticism from almost every newspaper across the country, and the collapse of the global economy. So what's a serious fan of popular music to do?

Well, explore the relationships between Reaganism, Theodor Adorno, and the Carpenters as a pair of call-and-response essays in the collection do (Tom Smucker calling and Eric Lott responding). Or try to understand the meaning of Isaac Hayes's appropriating in 1969 a country-pop song as does Diane Pecknold in her contribu- tion. In other words, do what American Studies scholars have always done: work to make clear the connections between political or economic conditions and the cultural practices and products of that time and place. Thus, the collection serves as an excel- lent introduction to the wide range of approaches to the study of popular music-the authors of individual essays come from university departments of sociology, English, music, communications, gender studies, creative writing, and more; and, true to the open spirit of the Pop Conference, they also write for the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, and NPR. …

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