Book Review: Pop When The World Falls Apart

Pop When The World Falls Apart is a book made up of a series of essays about, of course, pop music.  Each essay is written by someone different about someone in pop music.  There are stories about the Carpenters, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, talk of payloa and the record business and of course, much much more than that.

“When The World Falls Apart” means when the world has tragedies – as there are chapters on the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and other events that had everyone kind of sad, but music was still there to try and help bring us out of it. Or at least help us cope with it.

I especially liked the chapter written by a guy who did ghost writing for several musicians autobiographies.  He even coworote sexual healing with Marvin Gaye while working on his autobiography (which turned into a biography since it was not finished at the time of Marvin’s death).  It was interesting to hear his thoughts and feelings on embellishments that are being told to the ghost writer and if they should be included in the book even if the ghost knows that they are being embellished on (he thinks yes).  And also how he knew he did his job when people looked at the book and thought it was the musican talking/writing to them and not him (although he liked to have his name included on the covers for some credit)

I also liked the chapter on Amy Winehouse.  I didn’t know much about her aside from a few of her singles, so it was nice to read a bit about how she started out, etc.  Truly a great talent taken far too soon.  The essay also talked a bit about how whites “took” black music – but isn’t that essentially how rock n roll came to be? It was started in Africa and brought here by the slaves singing and evolved…

The book was released on April 9, 2012.

About the Book

Hearing Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan once said, was “like busting out of jail.” But what happens when popular music isn’t as simple as rock-and-roll rebellion? How does pop respond to such events as a decade-long war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina? In Pop When the World Falls Apart, a diverse array of music writers, scholars, and enthusiasts reflect on popular music’s role-as commentary, as refuge, and as rallying cry-in times of military conflict, social upheaval, and cultural crisis.

Drawn from presentations at the annual Experience Music Project Pop Conference-hailed by Robert Christgau as “the best thing that’s ever happened to serious consideration of pop music”-the essays in this book include inquiries into the sonic dimension of war in Iraq; the cultural life of jazz in post-Katrina New Orleans; Isaac Hayes’s reappropriation of a country song, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” as a symbol of black nationalism; and punk rock pranks played on record execs looking for the next big thing in central Virginia. Offering a diverse range of voices, perspectives, and approaches, this volume mirrors the eclecticism of pop itself.

Contributors: Larry Blumenfeld , Austin Bunn, Nate Chinen, J. Martin Daughtry, Brian Goedde, Michelle Habell-Pallán, Jonathan Lethem, Eric Lott, Kembrew McLeod, Elena Passarello, Diane Pecknold, David Ritz, Carlo Rotella, Scott Seward, Tom Smucker, Greg Tate, Karen Tongson, Alexandra T. Vazquez, Oliver Wang, Eric Weisbard, Carl Wilson

Eric Weisbard is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama. His previous books include, as editor, Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music, also published by Duke University Press.

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