Text and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture

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Overview

Text, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll explores the interaction between two of the most powerful socio-cultural movements in the post-war years - the literary forces of the Beat Generation and the musical energies of rock and its attendant culture.

Simon Warner examines the interweaving strands, seeded by the poet/novelists Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and others in the 1940s and 1950s, and cultivated by most of the major rock figures who emerged after 1960 - Bob Dylan, ...

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Text and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture

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Overview

Text, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll explores the interaction between two of the most powerful socio-cultural movements in the post-war years - the literary forces of the Beat Generation and the musical energies of rock and its attendant culture.

Simon Warner examines the interweaving strands, seeded by the poet/novelists Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and others in the 1940s and 1950s, and cultivated by most of the major rock figures who emerged after 1960 - Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Bowie, the Clash and Kurt Cobain, to name just a few.

This fascinating cultural history delves into a wide range of issues: Was rock culture the natural heir to the activities of the Beats? Were the hippies the Beats of the 1960s? What attitude did the Beat writers have towards musical forms and particularly rock music? How did literary works shape the consciousness of leading rock music-makers and their followers? Why did Beat literature retain its cultural potency with later rock musicians who rejected hippie values? How did rock musicians use the material of Beat literature in their own work? How did Beat figures become embroiled in the process of rock creativity?

These questions are addressed through a number of approaches - the influence of drugs, the relevance of politics, the effect of religious and spiritual pursuits, the rise of the counter-culture, the issue of sub-cultures and their construction, and so on. The result is a highly readable history of the innumerable links between two of the most revolutionary artistic movements of the last 60 years.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Warner’s academic and exhaustive examination provides a fascinating analysis on the pivotal confluence of two artistic movements. This book will prove valuable to students and to those deeply interested in music, literature, and Anglo-American cultural history of the mid- to late 20th century." — James Collins, Morristown, NJ "Impressively comprehensive and frequently fascinating... Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll succeeds because its eclecticism and its boldness in bringing genres together – it includes not only scholarly essays, but also interviews, reviews and obituaries – is consistent with the qualities he identifies in the Beats’ artistic productions and their links with popular culture, as well as his own desire to break free of “disciplinary rigidity”." - James Peacock, European Beat Studies Network
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826416643
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 3/14/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Warner is Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds, UK.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Section One: A Social Revolution: Beat and the Rise of Rock'n'Roll, 1945-1960

Section Two: The Hippies and the Counterculture: 1960-1973

Section Three: The Aftermath: Beat and Popular Music since 1970

Conclusion

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Not ready for prime time

    I bought this book after hearing it used on a Public Radio show called "Sound Opinions," a rock and roll talk show. After reading a couple of chapters, I wondered whether the radio hosts had actually read any of it. The book is poorly written: it desperately needs an editor. My impression is that it was, for the most part, self-published, although a copy editor is listed in the credits. It suffers, for example, from sentences such as this (and I needed only turn to two pages to find an example): "In March, Dylan's fifth album _Bringing It All Back Home_, appeared and its cover paid lightly-veiled tribute to the Beats in the free-form, automatic writing of Dylan's own sleeve notes plus to Ginsburg himself in one of the cover photographs, which showcased the poet in sartorial style: neck-tied and top-hatted." The book is a disjointed attempt to defend a thesis (concerning beat influence on rock and roll), and reads much like a strained history dissertation periodically mimicking beat writing style (think Kerouacian stream of consciousness). There are a series of interviews almost randomly dispersed throughout the book and, perhaps in that beat-mimicking fashion, transcribed seemingly verbatim, including sometimes indecipherable grammar in the questions. It's truly odd. And despite a section discussing photos with Larry Keenan (who shot the famous pics of Ginsburg, Dylan, Robbie Robertson, and Michael McClure outside Ferlinghetti's bookstore), there's not a photograph in the book - just the one on the cover). That all said, the interviewees include some interesting figures of the era - Michael McClure, David Amram, Larry Keenan - and there is a general nostalgic feeling one might get reading this book (if the frustration over poor editing doesn't lead to throwing it in the recycling bin -or onto a bonfire, if one's burning - in a fit of rage ... I still have my copy intact). But it's not for the uninitiated, not about beat-culture music, and not a mature work; I wish it had been given some time to sit, re-read, and edited to about half its content (with grammar corrections made).

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