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The Poetry of Pop Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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In addition, the author muses about in general: are lyrics poetry? Are they comparable in value to words of Shakespeare and others? How do words and music interact to produce an effect? and so on. Sometimes this gets a bit repetitious, but the questions are valuable ones. Bradley refers to music from the past as well as more current music, citing a wide variety of songwriters and performers.
This is not a quick read, but there is much information packed into 300 or so pages. I found his writings about lyrics (particularly about the use of rhyme) more compelling than those about music. Perhaps this reflects his background and expertise as a professor of English.
All in all, this is an impressive and interesting work for those wishing to go deeply into the subject. Recommended to readers with a far reaching interest in this subject.
His focus is on lyrics, which he examines as poetry (though he certainly takes the music into context). I felt sometimes as though his points were belabored, but I was particularly interested at the points where he made connections across time and genre.
Keep a computer or your phone nearby so you can check out some of the songs you're not familiar with - it helps to make his points clearer and the read more entertaining. Too bad there's not an option to produce a version with samples of the music embedded.
However - I was really intrigued by a lot of his observations and conclusions and ideas, and even if many of them were over my head he made me think about music and lyrics in a way I hadn't before. Some of it's been told before - but even the "Yesterday/Scrambled Eggs" story that is old hat suddenly had a new depth to it. Discussion about vowels, rhymes, ghost rhymes, how contrived lyrics become much deeper when actually sung - it's all obvious, sure, but you still need somebody to explain WHY we care and why we notice.
You have to give it a solid chance and you can't skim it. It will be work - and it's not an "entertaining" read, but it IS insightful. I think the challenge for most readers is you don't really want to read this cover-to-cover, but if you put it aside and come back to it, you'll need to be refreshed on terms and theory. And, it does require at least a passing background with music theory for easy accessibility - since I don't really have that, I had to make a lot of assumptions on what he was talking about, but I feel like I got 75 percent of it.
It is a Yale U. Press book, so you know coming in that it's not "general" nonfiction - but it's not so difficult that any music fan won't at least find some neat thoughts here. As a gift, this would be a good idea because a reader could just have fun with it without the investment. If you buy it for yourself, expect to do some work, but I think some of these observations will be a revelation.
There are many perceptions into lyrics that probably have not occurred to the reader and listener.
At the end are almost 80 pages of notes and appendix to the book.
This is a study of language and music that all who listen might enjoy.