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MUS111H1 (74)
Lecture 9

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University of Toronto St. George
Joshua Pilzer

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- teur. • 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 music movement. • 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
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