CREEM and the Origins of Rock Writing

Topics include:  The state of music writing before the mid- to late 1960s; the original visions of the pioneer magazines; music and the New Left/counterculture; women in the “boy’s club.” Suggested reading:  “Lesley Gore: They Don’t Own Her,” Let It Rock, (1975); “Big (Fleetwood) Mac: The Cover Story,” Rolling Stone (1978); “Perils of Rock Criticism,” …

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On Listening

Topics include: The tension between listening and considering music in its political/cultural contexts; the challenge of hearing innovation in relation to sources; the evolution of musical styles; how Dave inspired new paths to hearing rock and pop music. Suggested reading: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” …

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Detroit and Beyond

Topics include: Detroit as the crossroads of American music; performing venues, record stories, studios; Motown and “rock ‘n’ roll”; music, labor and radical politics. Suggested reading:  “The Great Levi Stubbs,” Rock & Rap Confidential, (2008, reprinted in Counterpunch)

Who Needs the Music Industry?

Topics include: Economics and exploitation in the music business; the impact of balance sheets on artists and their creations; the relationship of producers, label owners, and musicians; changing platforms of music distribution; censorship in the music industry. Suggested reading:  “Wanted for Attitude: The FBI Hates This Band” Dave Marsh and Phyllis Pollack, Village Voice (1989); …

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Music and Media

Topics include: The changing relation of print, radio, digital media; the role of DJs and editors; political expression and the media industries. Suggested reading:  “Back in Black” (on rock censorship and war), Rock & Rap Confidential (1990); “Wanted for Attitude: The FBI Hates This Band” Dave Marsh and Phyllis Pollack, Village Voice (1989);

Keynote Panel: Listening Past the Myths

Topics include: The pressure of inherited wisdom; expanding the soundscape; the challenge of introducing audiences to new sounds, deepening historical awareness; creating conversations between histories, styles, and traditions. Suggested reading:  “Epilog” from Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream, Dave Marsh (1985); “Perils of Rock Criticism,” Rock & Rap Confidential, 1994.

Music and Community

Topics include: The role of music in creating and/or supporting communities; opening spaces for marginalized/oppressed groups; the challenge of bringing different communities into conversation. Suggested reading: “Celebrity Skin” (on “We Shall Overcome”), Rock & Rap Confidential (1999)

Music and Activism: Race and Class

Topics include: Challenging the white/male bias of musical institutions; empowerment vs. uplift; music as a political weapon from the Civil Rights era to the present. Suggested reading:  “The MoJo Wire’s Top 20 Political Songs,” Mother Jones, 1996.

Music and Activism: Health and Justice

Topics include: The problems faced by musicians; musicians as advocates; community organizing; the question of involvement with party politics. Suggested reading: “Jimmy LaFave in the Present Tense,” Austin Chronicle