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Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt Paperback – March 26, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Pop When the World Falls Apart gazes deep into the abyss of pop fandom—its pleasures and fears, complexities and contradictions—and then dives right into the heart of all of it. These essays enliven the sheer absurdity of loving music so much through the caustic precision of their insights. Read them and weep, and laugh, and sing.”—Barry Shank, Ohio State University

“The best essays in this brooding, often brilliant collection both reflect and reflect upon struggle and trouble, whether it’s the sonics of the Iraq conflict, the post-Katrina culture war threatening New Orleans’ jazz scene, or the self-annihilation of those Nixon-era popmeisters, the Carpenters. Pop When the World Falls Apart is an indispensable document of what cultural criticism reads and rocks like during these hard and bewildering times.”—Alice Echols, Professor of English, Gender Studies, and History, University of Southern California and author of Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture

“The voices in Pop When the World Falls Apart are so strong the book raises a new question: which critics would you take to a desert island? Everyone will have a different answer. For me, it would be Tom Smucker, Eric Lott, and Scott Seward. They’d argue til the sun came up, full of smiles and exasperation; I’d get to listen.”—Greil Marcus

“Let there be no doubt that this is one of the best anthologies of music writing you’ll find this year and one that’s destined to be required reading for any kid who thinks he has what it takes to make it in the rough ‘n’ tumble world of music criticism.”
(Jedd Beaudoin PopMatters)

“The point of this sort of criticism isn’t — or shouldn’t necessarily be — to convince us of a single interpretation, but rather to invite us to consider ones we had either never thought about or dismissed long ago. Nearly all the essays ... in the book ... confront the reader with more questions about pop’s past and present than anyone could seriously engage in a lifetime.”
(Gary Sullivan Los Angeles Review of Books)

“[T]he range of contributors in this collected volume refreshingly breaks the cult of expertise often surrounding popular music discourse and refrains from burying the reader under a barrage of cultural theory verbiage. Both entertaining and educational, this latest compilation in the series will appeal with equal measure to both critics and fans.”
(Joshua Finnell Library Journal)

“This collection covers a varied terrain: ghostwriting celebrity memoirs; Karen and Richard Carpenter’s reassuring pop songs, whose darkness bubbled below a syrupy surface of melody and lyrics: Retro-Soul’s appeal to middle-class whites; and Morris Holt—a.k.a. ‘Magic Slim’—as the last keeper of traditional Chicago Blues. While some of the articles stray from the book title’s promise, together they offer a stimulating view of popular music’s indelible cultural imprint.”
(Karl Helicher ForeWord Reviews)

“...the twenty-one assorted authors of this volume weave together a tapestry of varied approaches and interests that is both refreshing and disorienting...Its strength is its variety.”
(Joseph R. Matson Notes)

“Perhaps because these EMP conferences differ from typical academic events by combining presentations from a range of experts from inside and outside the academic sphere, the resulting papers—written by music journalists, scholars of American studies, obsessive fans and a variety of professional specialists—are often highly original and occasionally quite brilliant."
(Alex Seago Journal of American Studies)

About the Author

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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