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.)
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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.