Monday, April 7, 2008

Rock's Urban Myths: What the Scholars Say

Urban Myths, rock is full of them !

Led Zeppelin and the Mud Shark (see frank Zappa about this one, I don't want to get sued), Keith Richards and his fathers ashes (well, he promulgated that himself), Elvis's faked death (I saw him yesterday at Maccas) !

Ian Inglis, Reader in Popular Music Studies in the School of Arts & Social Sciences at the University of Northumbria, UK, has just published a scholarly analysis of these legends in a Journal called Popular Music and Socety (Dec. 2007)

Here are four others he mentions

Paul Is Dead.

In 1966, Paul McCartney was said to have died in a car crash .The Beatles continued with an actor called William Campbell providing clues on their album covers, lyrics in and photographs

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was said to have placed a rubber hose down his trousers before going on stage to give his hips something more substantial to thrust

Bob Dylan's and the Cup of Tea

In the 80's Bob DFylan goes to visit Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.He gets the address wrong, showing up at a plumber's house of the same name. When the plumber gets home, his wife syas hello and "Bob Dylan's here to see you ... he's in the kitchen, having a cup of tea."

The Dark Side of the Wizard of Oz.

Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon was said to have been composed as a soundtrack to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. If you put them both on together they are said to be perfectly synchronised.

Hot as Sun by The Beatles

The master tape of the Beatles album (Hot as Sun) were said to have been stolen fromGeorge Martin's home and held to ransom. The ransom is paid, but the tape erased while passing through the X-ray security at Heathrow airport.

His article is pretty interseting, here a couple of a snippets.

"The pilgrimage (there is no other word) made by hundreds of thousands of fans each year to Graceland reproduces many of the expectations and obligations that a Catholic will take to Lourdes, a Hindu to the Ganges, a Druid to Stonehenge, or a Muslim to Mecca. The transposition of the Beatles from pop stars to spiritual messiahs and the sanctification of Bob Dylan by those of his fans who regard him not merely as a singer-songwriter, but as a philosopher-king are, perhaps, the two most pressing examples of this tendency. And, clearly, some of the urban myths relate to these changes of status very directly. The account of the Beatles' "missing" album, Hot as Sun, is less a tale of a few mislaid songs than it is of a legendary text whose truths and insights can never be recaptured. Dylan's arrival at the door of an unsuspecting plumber becomes a pseudo-Biblical parable in which we learn that any of us--however undeserving or unlikely--might one day meet our savior.'

'To admit the circumstances of his (Elvis's) death is therefore to undermine the legitimacy of a national ideology that promotes ambition, possession, and wealth--for what good are such attributes if they lead to a lonely and miserable end? But by choosing to deny his death and prolonging "the liberatory celebration of his life" (Gottdeiner 200), which is "confirmed" by the many reported sightings of him, that ideology is protected. In this case, although it clearly overlaps with the type of myth which functions as a religious/spiritual fable (in that Elvis, like Jesus, is "resurrected"), the urban legend is less about the extraordinary nature of Presley himself, and more about the maintenance of a political philosophy to which the singer himself, and many of his fans, fully subscribed. '

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