AMS / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Lecture Series

The American Musicological Society and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (RRHOFM) in Cleveland, Ohio, are collaborating on a new lecture series that brings scholarly work to a broader audience and showcases the musicological work of the top scholars in the field.

Future Lectures

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Joshua S. DuchanJoshua Duchan describes his lecture as follows: "Billy Joel (b. 1949) is one of the best-selling popular musicians in the United States, whose accolades include Grammy awards, induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and the 2014 Gershwin Award from the Library of Congress. Yet his work is rarely discussed in scholarship on American popular music. One of the most prominent topics Joel addresses in his work is place. His first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), bears the title of a suburban New York town, while songs such as 'Say Goodbye to Hollywood' and 'New York State of Mind' (1976) are inextricably linked to specific locales, a trend that continues on later albums. Moreover, his public persona is also defined by a sense of place, as he is regularly identified (and identifies) as a Long Islander, a New Yorker, and as the New York analog of New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen.

Of course, the American musical landscape has long been a window into its cultural landscape, and recent scholarship on the relationship between music and place has highlighted the way the former invokes and evokes the latter while also anchoring social, cultural, and political beliefs, embodying the bonds that bring people together as well as the differences that set them apart. Joel continues this tradition, conjuring geography and space, as well as delimiting boundaries inclusively and exclusively, through both his lyrics and his musical choices.

This lecture addresses two kinds of places found in Joel's songs, geographical (specifically the American West and New York) and social or cultural (suburbia). Material drawn from several personal interviews with the composer informs the analyses of representative works, illustrating their connections to broader traditions in American music, such as the use of Tin Pan Alley forms and jazz harmonies in 'New York State of Mind.' Moreover, one finds, in songs like 'No Man's Land' (1993), that Joel's work just as often illuminates the profound social and cultural changes affecting American life in the second half of the twentieth century. Thus, Joel's music offers a commentary on American life and culture rooted in both his personal experience and the time during which it was composed."

Joshua S. Duchan is Associate Professor of Music at Wayne State University. He is the author of a number of articles and two books, Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella (2012) and Billy Joel: America's Piano Man (2017). In 2016 he co-organized, with Ryan Bañagale, the conference"'It's Still Rock and Roll to Me': The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel."

Call for Lecture Proposals

Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/RRHOFM Lecture Series. The next deadline is 16 January 2018 .

Past Lectures

See here for full details and video webcasts

Tammy Kernodle (Miami University of Ohio), fall 2017: "Hope for a New Tomorrow: Transcendence and Resistance in the Gospel Blues of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples and Roberta Flack"

Daniel Goldmark (Case Western Reserve University), spring 2017: "Anthologizing Rock and Roll: Rhino Records and the Repackaging of Rock History"

Steven Baur (Dalhousie University), fall 2016: "Toward a Cultural History of the Backbeat"

Jacqueline Warwick (Dalhousie University), spring 2016: "Dad Rock and Child Stars"

Stephanie Vander Wel (University at Buffalo (SUNY)), fall 2015: "Rose Maddox's Roadhouse Vocality and the California Sound of 1950s Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk"

Mark Clague (University of Michigan), spring 2015: "'This Is America': Jimi Hendrix's Reimaginings of the 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as Social Comment for Woodstock and Beyond"

Samantha Bennett (Australian National University), fall 2014: "Rock, Recording and Rebellion: Technology and Process in 1990s Record Production"

Christopher Doll (Rutgers University), spring 2014: "Nuclear Holocaust, the Kennedy Assassination, and 'Louie Louie': The Unlikely History of Sixties Rock and Roll"

Loren Kajikawa (University of Oregon), September 2013: "Before Rap: DJs, MCs, and Pre-1979 Hip Hop Performances"

Andrew Flory (Carleton College), December 2012: "Reissuing Marvin: Musicology and the Modern Expanded Edition"

David Brackett (McGill University), April 2012: "Fox-Trots, Hillbillies, and the Classic Blues: Categorizing Popular Music in the 1920s"

Albin Zak (University at Albany, SUNY), October 2011: "'A Thoroughly Bad Record': Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog' as Rock and Roll Manifesto"

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