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In Rebels Wit Attitude, music writer and professor Iain Ellis throws a spotlight on the history of humor as a weapon of anti-establishment rebellion, paying tribute to the great rebel humorists in American rock history and investigating comedy and laughter as the catalyst and main expressive force in these artists' work. The performers who are the subject of Ellis's study are not merely funny people - they are those whose art exudes defiance and resistance, whether aimed at social structures and mores, political systems, aesthetic practices, or the music industry itself. Subversive rock humor has emerged as a formidable force of modern art, building a reputation for rock music as a rebellious - sometimes dangerous - form of expression that can dismay the adult mainstream as it empowers the youth culture. In this study of rock's impact on youth through the decades, Ellis proves that the most subversive rock humorists serve as the conscience of our culture. They chastise pretensions, satirize hypocrisy, and pour scorn on power, corruption, and lies. Discussing the work of iconic figures as diverse as Chuck Berry, Lou Reed, the Ramones, the Talking Heads, the Beastie Boys, Missy Elliott, Ellis examines the nature of the rock humorist, asking why and in what ways each performer uses humor as a weapon of resistance to various status quos. The commentary on these artists' work is the basis for a deeper discussion of the historical foundations and other socio-cultural contexts of humorous art, and Ellis delves into the larger issues of politics, nationality, geography, generation, art, social class, race, gender and sexuality that surround his subject. The chapters, divided by decade, include introductory sections outlining each decade's defining forces and contextual features. While lyrics constitute Ellis's primary field of analysis, his exploration goes well beyond that, moving into a discussion and interpretation of image, performance, product, and musical content.
Essays and critical profiles draw attention to those whose music and persona exude defiance--from the Beatles and the Kinks to the Smiths the Sex Pistols--to investigate the nature of rock humor and the ways these groups used it to attack prevailing social structures. Original.
The use of irony in music is just beginning to be defined and critiqued, although it has been used, implied and decried by composers, performers, listeners and critics for centuries. Irony in popular music is especially worthy of study because it is pervasive, even fundamental to the music, the business of making music and the politics of messaging. Contributors to this collection address a variety of musical ironies found in the ’notes themselves,’ in the text or subtext, and through performance, reception and criticism. The chapters explore the linkages between irony and the comic, the tragic, the remembered, the forgotten, the co-opted, and the resistant. From the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, through America, Europe and Asia, this provocative range of ironies course through issues of race, religion, class, the political left and right, country, punk, hip hop, folk, rock, easy listening, opera and the technologies that make possible our pop music experience. This interdisciplinary volume creates new methodologies and applies existing theories of irony to musical works that have made a cultural or political impact through the use of this most multifaceted of devices.
Profiles history's notable tricksters--from P.T. Barnum to Stephen Colbert--and their spectacles from the 1600s to the present, considering how pranksters have used humor to expose larger truths and, on occasion, incited social change.
Two decades after the publication of several landmark scholarly collections on music and difference, musicology has largely accepted difference-based scholarship. This collection of essays by distinguished contributors is a major contribution to this field, covering the key issues and offering an array of individual case studies and methodologies. It also grapples with the changed intellectual landscape since the 1990s. Criticism of difference-based knowledge has emerged from within and outside the discipline, and musicology has had to confront new configurations of difference in a changing world. This book addresses these and other such challenges in a wide-ranging theoretical introduction that situates difference within broader debates over recognition and explores alternative frameworks, such as redistribution and freedom. Voicing a range of perspectives on these issues, this collection reveals why differences and similarities among people matter for music and musical thought.
Three cousins, inseparably bonded through music. Each became a star; their story would become a legend. J.D. Davis’s enthralling new biography of famous cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley, born within a twelve-month span in small-town Louisiana during the Great Depression, draws from exhaustive research and personal connections with friends and family. Davis recreates the irresistible and life-changing power of music that surrounded the cousins as boys and shaped their engagingly distinct paths to fame. With three personal journeys set alongside important landmarks in pop-culture history, Davis presents a unique tale of American music centered on the trials, tribulations, and achievements of three men who remain truly Unconquered.

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