Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

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Tales of Love and Desire in Rock Music

David C. Wright Jr. (Misericordia University)
Presentation type: 

The proposed presentation will focus on popular song lyrics, from the 1950s to the present, using a close-reading approach to interpret the meaning conveyed to listeners, with a particular focus on themes of love and desire. Cultural forms, such as popular music, not only reveal changes in collective psychology, they have had a significant role in shaping attitudes and behavior. This study will explore shifts in attitudes and behaviors due to societal change, in addition to thematic variation due to differing musical subgenre conventions. Continuity, as well as innovation, in language and meaning will be highlighted through careful analysis of songs by rock and roll pioneers, such as Buddy Holly, through iconic rockers of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, such as The Rolling Stones, to recent alternative-rock singer-songwriters, such as Jewel. This presentation will convey the complexity of emotions about love and desire revealed by rock music.

About the presenter

David C. Wright Jr.

David C. Wright, Jr. is Professor in the Department of History and Government at Misericordia University in Dallas, PA. Trained as an historian of modern France at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, more recently, he has presented conference papers on detective fiction, fantasy and science fiction, and rock music. He is co-editor of, and contributor to, “Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television,” published by McFarland.

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