November 6, 2012
• Continuation of women in popular music. Social movements & popular music.
• Social movements predicted in ephemeral cultural ways. Predicts tensions that are
about to boil over.
• Key question: working with so many constraints and in such male-dominated genres
how do women pop stars find avenues for self-expression?
• Talking back intertextually, like Kitty Wells. No women solo acts on the Grand Ole
Opry before the popularity of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels”.
• More women with disposable income = more of an economic impact.
• Patsy Cline — singing about the kinds of things that women put up with in society, cre-
ating a sense of solidarity in heartache. Straight-up good at singing.
• Virtuosity: Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith — playing the game better than anyone
else. When jazz was popular music.
• Ike and Tina Turner — domestic figure to fetishized African-American. “Private
Dancer” agonistics. Critique of the commercialization of sexuality/the female body lyri-
cally & through sighs (which can be both sexualized or agonistic).
• How women intervene in their own social situation. People begin to reject more radi-
cally the roles that are pressed upon them in the 1960’s.
• Janis Joplin! Deviates form the image of the beautiful complacent female
singer. Not a beautiful voice in the traditional white tradition. Assertiveness &
power that’s manifestly present in African-American vocal styles. Struggling
with non-traditional beauty.
• “They know they’re not what’s really happening here”
• How do you revolutionize a love song to where it’s about the balance of power?
Saying “do whatever you want to me, I can take it” and embracing the bad girl im-
age is one way.
• More female singers in the rest of this class — lol sure.
• Folk revival!
• Folk music was central to labour, civil rights and anti-war movements from the 1930’s
to the 1960’s. But also a commercial genre.
• What does folk music mean? Talking about folk music as a social movement and a
commercial genre — “folk boom” of the 1950‘s/60’s.
• Tensions between folk music and popular music. When folk was coming to a close
and rock was taking over — Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. • Folk revival was about participation, breaking barrier between audience and per-
former. Part of the establishment when he plugged in?
• Folk/pop discursive binary — electric = elitist and commercial. Folk = egalitarian, gen-
uinely an alternative.
• Mainstream America vs. alternative America. Authentic folk artist vs. authentic au-
• Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Smith. Race and hillbilly records — all
commercial recordings, how authentic can it be? Alternative vision of America —
folk being both the other and our own.
• 2 waves of folk revival — the first had to do with labour and communist movements,
the second was connected with college-educated youth. Became connected with anti-
war and civil rights movements.
Folk has always had a political edge but also commercial aspects.
• 1 wave: because of depression and drought, lots of commies (mainstreaming via
Popular Front). Nation building academic research of the New Deal.
• Woody Guthrie! Started singing at labour rallies, was Dylan’s inspiration. Solidarity be-
cause he was from the Dust Bowl, singable choruses and easy to play along to, no elec-
tric instruments. What year is “All you Fascists are Bound to Lose” from? Fascists not
just as Nazis.
• Very country sound.
• Leadbelly — ‘discovered’ (introduced to folk audience) by John Lomax (Alan’s dad).
Represented authenticity for white folk audiences. Contradictions inherent in the folk
• Pete Seeger — bridged civil rights and labour movements. Made Pilzer lunch one
time. Prefigured world music — known for participatory style of performance. Lined out
his songs. A commercial success. We shall over