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Author Topic: The genesis and evolution of love songs as a transcendent art form  (Read 848 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: March 01, 2015, 09:17:01 PM »

The prevailing view is, of course, that love songs are simple, sentimental, and formulaic, and that they are often the saccharine, awkward, or bittersweet stuff that mostly young and inexperienced people rave, moon, or croon about on the rocky road to sexual fulfillment and adulthood. But in his book Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University Press, 336 pages), American jazz critic and music historian Ted Gioia argues that these are just outward appearances. He suggests that beneath the surface, love songs have, in fact, always been among the most contentious and revolutionary of musical forms. He contends that with their power to bring about “the beautiful confusion of soul and body, the prickle in the ether, and the prickle in the underpants,” love songs have provoked more censorship, controversy, or reprisals over the centuries than any other style of music.


But Gioia says that even if fear of the love song and of its emotional extremity has been a historical constant, love songs nevertheless flowered over the centuries, bringing people together from purely procreative purposes to the most stylized forms of modern-day romance. He explains: “All kinds of coupling, even those that involve more than just a couple, have found expression in song, but also the metaphysical yearnings for a higher love untarnished by the desires of the flesh. The love song sometimes comes to us embedded in ritual and ceremony, or broadcast over the airwaves and through cyberspace, but it can also flourish when hidden from view during a private moment or clandestine rendezvous.”

In a review of Love Songs in the February 14, 2015 issue of The Atlantic Magazine, James Parker observes: “Gioia has constructed a mind-expanding, deep-focus piece of scholarship here, certainly the first book to relate, longitudinally as it were, the West African Wolof people’s ‘dance of the amorous mallard, in which a couple emulate the mating of ducks to the accompaniment of a song with explicit lyrics,’ to Gang of Four’s ‘Love Like Anthrax.’”

Read an excerpt from Ted Gioia’s Love Songs: The Hidden History in PopMatters.com now!

Read James Parker’s “Endless Love,” a review of Ted Gioia’s Love Songs: The Hidden History, in The Atlantic Magazine now!

Read "From Troubadours to Twerking: Ted Gioia on the History of Love Songs," a conversation with Ted Panken, in Barnes&Noble.com now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ted Gioia is a music historian and the author of nine books, including The History of Jazz and Delta Blues, both selected as notable books of the year in The New York Times. A jazz musician and among the founders of Stanford University’s jazz studies program, Gioia is one of the editors in chief of the Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. His book Love Songs continues his pioneering research into the music of everyday life.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2017, 08:15:07 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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