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The Lyrics of Civility : Biblical Images and Popular Music Lyrics in American Culture (Hardcover)

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This book is the first comprehensive scholarly study of religious images in popular music. Examining bestsellers from 1906 to 1971, the work explores the role religious images have in the secularization of American culture. Popular music lyrics that express an adherence to a sacred order are couched in inoffensive, content-less language. These lyrics of civility reflect and shape the increasing secularization of American culture in the twentieth century. The analysis focuses primarily on the way these lyrics reduce the meaning of the terms and theology of the Biblical faith. The aesthetic of civility carries over into theology, the narratives, and the accompanying instrumental arrangements of songs that adhere to the Biblical sacred order.
On the other hand, lyrics that reject the Biblical tradition use content-filled, offensive language. The result is that displaced adherents withdraw from the Biblical tradition and turn to alternative cultural religions, or idols of attraction, including popular music, that offer meaning to fill a void in the individual. The secularization of American society, therefore, is not a withdrawal from the idea of religion itself.
The analysis focuses on the two dominant themes in songs that include religious images: prayer and heaven. The author explores the songs of the two world wars, the hit parade era, the rhythm and blues and doo-wop of the 1950s, the new folk singer movement, soul music and rock music of the 1960s, and the revival rock of the early 1970s. The work demonstrates the capacity of one form of popular culture to separate adherents from a subculture through diluting the meaning of the language of the subculture's elementalthought.
(Ph.D. dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 1994; revised with new preface, bibliography, and index)


Publisher Taylor & Francis
Mfg Part# 9780815331933
SKU 202308064
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0815331932
Release Date 5/1/2000
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