On Record: Rock, Pop and the Written Word by Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin

By Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin

Vintage sociological analyses of 'deviance' and uprising; reports of expertise; subcultural and feminist readings, semiotic and musicological essays and shut readings of stars, bands and the lovers themselves through Adorno, Barthes and different famous individuals

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At the same time, the songs appropriate to the stages already passed will have acquired the private meanings of personal history. When the cycle has been completed, the whole of this symbolic universe will have been reinterpreted, its meaning “reduced” from an abstract, conventional possibility to a concrete, completed personal experience. In the course of this continuous translation of cultural patterns of rhetoric into personal expression, the songs, like other formulas of personal communication, may promote a sense of identity.

Though there is much to be learned from the lyrics of pop songs, there is more in the beat (loud, simple, insistent), the backing (strong, guitar-dominated), the presentation (larger than life, mechanically etherealized), the inflections of voice (sometimes the self-pitying, plaintive cry, and later the yeah-saying, affirmative shouting), or the intonations (at one stage midAtlantic in speech and pronunciation, but more recently rebelliously northern and provincial). ”), and provincialized by groups like the Beatles.

They deal exclusively with falling in love, falling out of love, longing for the fulfillment of love, the magic of love fulfilled. Of course, this has been the typical subject matter of popular song throughout the ages. But one has then to compare the actual quality of the statement in pop music with, say, the folk song or the blues or even the pointed Johnny Mercer lyric of the twenties to appreciate the particular flavor, the generalized loneliness and yearning—a yearning of “no-body in particular for anyone-at-all,” as Philip Oakes once wrote.

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