This chapter examines the issue of censorship in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s controversial decision to ban the final track, “A Day in the Life,” from the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 due to its oblique reference to drug use. More specifically, it analyzes the factors underlying the BBC ban within the context of the cultural environment in which company executives interpreted the recording. The chapter also discusses the BBC mission and its “Green Book,” the BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide for Writers and Producers, which establishes Britain’s standards for taste in broadcasting.
This article has been commissioned as part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Music Revival edited by Caroline Bithell and Juniper Hill. This essay explores modern performances of medieval music as a phenomenon of musical revival. The revival of early music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be traced back to an early modern musical antiquarianism that saw medieval and folk music traditions as intimately related. In the revivals of medieval and folk music in Europe, antiquarians obsessed about the idea of restoring traditions to a hypothetical original and pure state. Both revivals underwent a remarkable institutionalization in the nineteenth century that was indispensable to their becoming bona fide academic disciplines. In comparing approaches to early music and folk music, key central concerns arise in both cases: their origins in the activities of early modern academic societies; nostalgia for the past and, nostalgia’s corollary, dissatisfaction with contemporary culture; an obsession with written sources paired with an academic validation of oral performances; and a specifically nineteenth-century trend toward institutionalization in the wake of industrialization.
Sandra Jean Graham
This chapter examines how Sam Lucas (1840–1916), one of the most popular black performers of the late 1870s and 1880s, was able to transcend the restrictions imposed on black entertainers in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, mainly through his songs that deploy ideologically laden codes to signify social constructions of race. Renowned for his songs, comic ingenuity, pleasing tenor voice, nimble dance steps, and dramatic intensity, Lucas holds the distinction of being the only African American to perform in the genres of blackface minstrelsy, variety and vaudeville, turn-of-the-century black musical comedy, and film (as a lead character). This chapter considers Lucas’s “black-coded” and “white-coded” songs and relates them to his deliberate attempt to manage his ambiguous position between sociocultural groups. To illuminate Lucas’s strategy of code-switching, a selective biography of Lucas based on primary sources and his own narratives is presented.
Leigh H. Edwards
This chapter establishes how class is a key category of analysis for country music studies because the genre is still symbolically associated with a southern white working-class audience and milieu and shares much in common with long-running thematic traditions in country music, even though audiences have always been broader. Through case studies about Johnny Cash as well as about Dolly Parton and the hillbilly trope, the chapter demonstrates the importance of discussing class in relation to gender and race in the genre. Class themes in country music can be multivalent. The chapter also links class to the genre’s regional folk culture roots and details the relevance of the blurred, arbitrary categories of folk culture and mass culture to country music.
As this chapter suggests, country music’s success can be measured not just in records sales, but as based in nurturing an elaborate and committed fan culture. Through characteristic rituals and using new media and technology, the distance between production and consumption expands and contracts. The historical and close collaboration between the industry and country fandom makes the genre distinctive. The chapter also discusses country fan club culture, which assures inclined fans some chance for communalism and possible contact with artists themselves. The complex and changing relationship between the more formal media and trade organizations and the more informal club culture is another unique aspect to country music’s fandom. In addition, there is perhaps no better way to understand country fandom than two forms of interactions: “meet-and-greets” and the interactions in and around the annual CMA festival.
Clifford R. Murphy
This chapter argues that country music should be examined first and foremost as social practice—as a driver of community expression and social capital through music, words, and dance. While country music functions in a multitude of ways, from narrative storytelling to commercial product and points in between, the commercial sphere of country music has been exhaustively examined. Scholarly inquiry into country music, rooted in the folk revival of the mid-twentieth century and significantly influenced by collectors (and collections) of commercial country music, has maintained a southern, commercial focus for much of the past half-century. As such, scholarly and popular understanding of what, where, and who country music springs from has ignored significant regional vernacular forms and uses of country music. Ethnographic inquiry has made it possible to tell the story country music culture and traditions. Murphy illustrates his argument with examples from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Atlantic Canada.
This chapter explores how the Country Music Association and the Country Music Foundation have shaped the telling of country music history. It traces the development of the Foundation and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum from the mid-1960s to the present, arguing that although the Foundation sought to become a traditional academic institution in its early years, it was ultimately re-envisioned as a public education institution, also incorporating a museum that would house the Hall of Fame. This stance reflected both the wider trend toward museum corporatization and a democratic impulse to interpret country music history for the widest possible public. Despite the tensions inherent in balancing entertainment with education and sales potential with academic interests, this philosophy not only resulted in a sustainable vehicle for enshrining country music history, it produced a more nuanced presentation of that history than is often acknowledged.
This chapter considers the role played by radio in popularizing and defining country music. Radio as a format pursued a commercially driven mediation of identity that worked against applying an artistically driven musical genre definition. In particular, these debates revolved around gendered presentation and women as listeners and performers. From the 1920s through World War II, radio’s prominence in country turned on live radio shows as the media introduction of southern whites. A second era, from the end of the war to mid-1970s, saw a shift to disc jockeys and records: personality radio. Format radio country, a tighter programming approach, solidified from the mid-1970s to the mega mergers of the late 1990s. Most recently, in an era of Internet access and new business models for music, country has confronted the less sympathetic position of networked radio.
This chapter examines censorship in relation to music and the AIDS crisis and the social or political timidity that seems to characterize such music. It argues that music about AIDS reflects a combination of caution and defiance, provocation and obscurity, and tends to foreground implicit feelings of transgression. The chapter supports its arguments by presenting musical works that represent most of the major genres on sale in record stores, including classical, avant-garde, musicals, and film scores. It also cites the work of Frank Zappa and how it underwent a process that mirrors the problems of popular and avant-garde music.
This article explores how food and drink in opera convey meaning, define relationships, trigger psychophysical reactions, and denote dramatis and singers’ personae. It proposes a basic theoretical foundation of “operatic gastromusicology” by outlining five primary functions of food in opera: social, intimate, denotative, medicinal, and dietary. These five functions are exemplified through the analysis of gastronomic signs in Verdi’s Traviata. The opera and its performance history illustrate how the production of this opera reflects the changing culture of food and the body. Luchino Visconti’s production in Milan’s La Scala in 1955, with Maria Callas as the consumptive protagonist, was in this respect a watershed in the history of opera. The singer’s rapid and prodigious weight loss prior to this performance triggered an epochal shift in opera culture toward an unprecedented conflation of the dramatis and singer’s persona.