Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music

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9780029019627: Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music

"Hole in Our Soul" looks at popular music from the early days of jazz, blues, country and gospel through the rise of rock 'n' roll and the excesses of the MTV era. Martha Bayles defends the hardy, affirmative spirit of Afro-American music against the anarchistic, nihilistic impulses of the European avant-garde, which, she argues, were grafted onto rock in the late 1960s and led to a cult of brutality and obscenity in subsequent genres like heavy metal, punk and rap.

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From the Back Cover:

From ragtime to rap, Motown to Madonna, Hole in Our Soul: The loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music is cultural history with attitude. Defending the vigor of jazz, blues, country, gospel, and early rock'n'roll, Bayles argues that recent styles like grunge, punk, and gangsta rap have succumbed to a mindless cult of shock and sonic abuse.

From Publishers Weekly:

Bayles, former TV and arts columnist for the Wall Street Journal , takes the title for her book from the old saying, "If you don't like the blues, you've got a hole in your soul." The author of this wide-ranging study of American popular music maintains that the African American tradition--blues, jazz, gospel--is this country's "distinctive musical idiom . . . truer to civilized values" than punk, heavy metal, rap and other antisocial impulses descended from the late-19th century European avant-garde trends in art that led to futurism, surrealism, dada and ultimately to music whose aim is to shock. It is a powerful thesis, but Bayles obfuscates her arguments by forcing all types of music and art into such rigid categories as "introverted modernism" and "extroverted modernism." She calls the tendency to shock, for example, "perverse modernism" and claims that this antiart, together with racial stereotypes, has kept African American music, which should be a humanizing antidote to the brutal and the obscene, out of the mainstream.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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