Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing about
University of California Press, Hardcover, 9780520252554, 198pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
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In a tour de force of lyrical theory, Joshua Clover boldly reimagines how we understand both pop music and its social context in a vibrant exploration of a year famously described as the end of history. Amid the historic overturnings of 1989, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, pop music also experienced striking changes. Vividly conjuring cultural sensations and events, Clover tracks the emergence of seemingly disconnected phenomena--from grunge to acid house to gangsta rap--asking if perhaps pop had been biding its time until 1989 came along to make sense of its sensibility. His analysis deftly moves among varied artists and genres including Public Enemy, N.W.A., Dr. Dre, De La Soul, The KLF, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, U2, Jesus Jones, the Scorpions, George Michael, Madonna, Roxette, and others. This elegantly written work, deliberately mirroring history as dialectical and ongoing, summons forth a new understanding of how history had come out to meet pop as something more than a fairytale, or something less. A truth, a way of being.