Canons are central to our understanding of our culture, and yet in the last thirty years there has been much conflict and uncertainty created by the idea of the canon. In essence, the canon comprises the works and artists that are widely accepted to be the greatest in their field. Yet such an apparently simple construct embodies a complicated web of values and mechanisms. Canons are also inherently elitist; however, Carys Wyn Jones here explores the emerging reflections of values, terms and mechanisms from the canons of Western literature and classical music in the reception of rock music. Jones examines the concept of the canon as theorized by scholars in the fields of literary criticism and musicology, before moving on to search for these canonical facets in the reception of rock music, as represented by ten albums: Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, The Beatles' Revolver, The Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground & Nico, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St., Patti Smith's Horses, The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks: Here's the Sex Pistols, and Nirvana's Nevermind. Jones concludes that in the reception of rock music we are not only trying to organize the past but also mediate the present, and any canon of rock music must now negotiate a far more pluralized culture and possibly accept a greater degree of change than has been evident in the canons of literature and classical music in the last two centuries.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Defining the canon; Aesthetic criteria and the work of art in the reception of rock albums; Canonical narratives, structure and the test of time in the reception of rock albums; The canonical values of rock; Canonical discourse and the question of authority in rock; The rock canon and the future of canons in our culture; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
'... the role of canons within popular music is certainly worth exploring further and this book surely provides some incentives'. International Association for the Study of Popular Music ’Carys Wyn Jones succeeds in bringing debates over a rock canon and its making into popular music studies. Insofar as canon formation remains an understudied and undertheorised issue within the field, this is a welcome addition.’ Popular Music ’The Rock Canon should prove useful both for courses limited to popular music, and for courses in musicology that aim to take a broad or long view; it is also a subject of intrinsic and general interest.’ Music and Letters