Panel 6 : "Sagebrush Serenade or Farewell to Paradise? Western Myth and Popular Music Lyrics of Twentieth Century America"
presentationposted on 12.04.2014, 00:00 by Jonathan D. Carr
Title: Sagebrush Serenade or Farewell to Paradise? Western Myth and Popular Music Lyrics of Twentieth Century America During the twentieth century, music constituted an enormous part of American popular culture, and very often reflected and embraced the popular mythology of the West. After cultural upheavals of the 1960s, many musicians embraced Western myths yet quite soon began reflecting disillusionment with many of these distorted views of the past in much of their lyrics. This paper will offer an overview of the importance of popular music in perpetuating common myths of the American West, but will focus primarily on the changing nature of rock music lyrics regarding Western myth from the 1960s through the 1990s, and will show that although some musicians continued to embrace parts of these myths, many began to challenge traditional social memory and present new, far less optimistic interpretations of the American West. The examination of the evolution of popular music lyrics throughout 20th century America provides valuable insights into changing social currents, and deserves more attention as a significant component of American social history.