I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease, and General Misadventure, as Related in Popular Song

Overview

Ask the gangsta rap devotee. Ask the grizzled blues fanatic and the bearded folk fan. Ask the goth and the indie kid. Ask and they will all tell you the same thing: death and popular music have forever danced hand-in-hand in funereal waltz time. The pop charts and the majority of radio stations' playlists may conspire to convince anyone listening that the world spins on its axis to the tune of "I love you, you love me" and traditional matters of the heart. The rest of us know that we live in a world where red ...

See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$14.71
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$19.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (49) from $1.99   
  • New (21) from $1.99   
  • Used (28) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Ask the gangsta rap devotee. Ask the grizzled blues fanatic and the bearded folk fan. Ask the goth and the indie kid. Ask and they will all tell you the same thing: death and popular music have forever danced hand-in-hand in funereal waltz time. The pop charts and the majority of radio stations' playlists may conspire to convince anyone listening that the world spins on its axis to the tune of "I love you, you love me" and traditional matters of the heart. The rest of us know that we live in a world where red roses will one day become lilies and that death is the motor that drives the greatest and most exhilarating music of all.

"Death music" is not merely a byword for bookish solemnity, or the glorification of murder, drugs and guns. Over the course of the last hundred years it has also been about teenage girls weeping over their high school boyfriend's fatal car wreck; natural disasters sweeping whole communities away; the ever-evolving threat of disease; changing attitudes to old age; exhortations to suicide; the perfect playlist for a funeral; and the thorny question of what happens after the fat lady ceases to sing. Which means that for every "Black Angel's Death Song" there is a "Candle in the Wind," and for every "Cop Killer" there is "The Living Years." Death, like music, is a unifying force. There is something for every taste and inclination, from murderous vengeance to camp sentimentality and everything in between.

Drawing upon original and unique interviews with artists such as Mick Jagger, Richard Thompson, Ice-T, Will Oldham and Neil Finn among many others, I Shot a Man In Reno explores how popular music deals with death, and how it documents the changing reality of what death means as one grows older. It's as transfixing as a train wreck, and you won't be able to put it down. as an epilogue, I Shot A Man In Reno presents the reader with the 40 greatest death songs of all time, complete with a brief rationale for each, acting as a primer for the morbidly curious listener.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Death in popular song comes in all shapes and sizes, but Thomson (Willie Nelson: The Outlaw) skids wildly from one genre and artist to another without pausing to draw larger conclusions. Divided into chapters covering everything from the common teenage penchant for suicide songs to the evolution of murder ballads and gangsta rap, Thomson displays considerable knowledge of music past and present, but his conclusions are often less than profound: death as a "hallmark of teen rebellion" (think James Dean); the Doors' "The End" signifying the late 1960s, Vietnam and "a world defined by death." In his most compelling section, entitled "Sweetness Follows: Into the Great Beyond" (from the R.E.M. songs of the same names), Thomson explores musicians' approach not to death itself, or even the journey toward it, but to what happens next. Though Thomson admits in the introduction that more death songs will be omitted than included, frustrated readers may wish he had taken his own advice and culled his examples to support a focused thesis. (Aug. 31)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826428578
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,443,296
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Graeme Thomson is a regular contributor to The Word, the Observer, Time Out, the Herald and the Sunday Herald. He is the author of Complicated Shadows: The Life and Music of Elvis Costello (Canongate, 2004) and Willie Nelson: The Outlaw (Virgin Books, 2006). He lives in Edinburgh.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Death Ain't Nothin' New: From 'John Barleycorn' to 'John Walker's Blues'

2. Teenage Wildlife: From Sob to Suicide

3. Blood on the Floor: Music, Murder and Morality

4. How Does It Feel?: Death in the Sixties

5. Appetite for Self-Destruction: Oblivion Songs

6. Sweetness Follows?: Into the Great Beyond

7. Gangsta Gangsta: Rap Reclaims the Murder Song

8. Sometimes It Snows in April: The Music of Loss

9. Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Fat Lady's Songbook

10. The Art of Dying (Slight Return)
Epilogue: To Die For

The 40 Greatest Death Records

Notes on Sources

Selected Bibliography

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)