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Rock music has been the principal outlet of youth rebellion for more than half a century, and though rock rebels have been idolized and profiled extensively, their humor has not been at the center of attention. In Rebels Wit Attitude, music writer Iain Ellis throws a spotlight on the history of humor in rock music, and its use as a weapon of anti-establishment rebellion. The performers who are the subjects of Ellis’ study are not merely musicians or comedians—they are artists whose works exude defiance and resistance. Discussing the work of iconic figures as diverse as Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, the Beastie Boys, and Madonna, Ellis reveals how issues of politics, ethics, race, and gender, among others, have energized their expressions of rock (and) humor. Rebels Wit Attitude is an entertaining look at some of the greatest rebels in American rock culture and a fascinating history of humor and dissent.
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, irony in popular music being 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. 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.

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