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Is Rock Dead? Hardcover – December 16, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Proclamations of the death of rock and roll have been voiced since its birth, and this engaging study probes their centrality to rock's conflicted self-image. Dettmar, a music writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education, examines the theme via the writings of music journalists and scholars, the Internet outpourings of disgruntled fans, the elegies for rock martyrs like Kurt Cobain and the curious sub-genre of rock songs about the death of rock. Through them he explores tenets of rock ideology, including the romantic cult of genius, the dichotomy between art and commerce, rock's need to define itself through rebellion against the pop Other, and boomers' tendency to conflate rock with their own nostalgia. No mourner, Dettmar gives a postmodernist embrace to rock's evolution from rap to Radiohead, welcomes the blurring of genre boundaries and celebrates kids today and their bricolage of samplings and iPod medleys. He too quickly dismisses the aesthetic arguments of the death-of-rock crowd as the usual unthinking disdain of elders for the music of youngsters, a criticism that almost mimics youth's equally witless retort that old folks just aren't with it. But Dettmar's contention that death is the health of rock is persuasive, and his witty prose and stimulating insights make him the life of the funeral. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Kevin J. Dettmar is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He writes on contemporary literature and popular culture, and has edited Reading Rock and Roll: Authenticity, Appropriation, Aesthetics (with William Richey)and has writes on rock music for The Chronicle of Higher Education, for which he is a regular contributor. He lives in Carbondale, Illinois.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415970334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415970334
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,839,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Is Rock Dead?" is an A-list rock book. The topic is the play of rock & roll's everlasting life against its constantly touted death. The content is by turns amusing, incisive, and revelatory. Pertinent allusions are used to highlight details, all kinds of great unusual info surfaces, and Dettmar rather objectively lays waste to the work of so-called rock scholars harboring narcissistic agendas. Dettmar's analysis of Kurt Cobain's suicide interpolated with Neil Young and Michael Stipe's work in relation to it is especially moving.
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By Aaron Joy on December 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
One of the most eye opening books on music you'll read. I've read a lot of bios and a lot of histories, but this one is unique. It traces the history of the idea that is bantered around - that rock is dead. But, if that's true, if it did die with grunge or the Beatles than it's the most lengthy death ever ... and that's the point of the book. He starts with the fascinating fact that rock was first said to have been dead about 6 months BEFORE Elvis came on the scene and ever since then every year has been declared the last year of rock and that all is dead. One of the most fascinating histories. I'm always quoting this book
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Format: Paperback
This book is wordy, confusing, and boring without any pictures. He writes 158 pages about the death of Rock music, yet never really gives a definition of Rock & roll. According to the book, Rock was born around 1956 with Elvis Presley, peaked around 1966 with the Beatles, and died in 1976 with the Sex Pistols and/or 1977 with Elvis Presley's death. He concludes with the thought that maybe Rock music is not dead, but evolving with Rap/Hip Hop, the current heir to Rock's throne. According to my teenage daughter, Rock died at the end of the eighties...1989. This author seems to think Rock died when Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994. I've never considered Grunge authentic Rock & roll, more of an "Alternative" to Rock & roll.
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