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Rock, Folk, and the Environment

Mark Pedelty

Publication Year: 2011

Can musicians really make the world more sustainable? Anthropologist Mark Pedelty, joined an eco-oriented band, the Hypoxic Punks, to find out. In his timely and exciting book, Ecomusicology, Pedelty explores the political ecology of rock, from local bands to global superstars. He examines the climate change controversies of U2's 360 Degrees stadium tour—deemed excessive by some—and the struggles of local folk singers who perform songs about the environment. In the process, he raises serious questions about the environmental effects and meanings on music.

Ecomusicology examines the global, national, regional, and historical contexts in which environmental pop is performed. Pedelty reveals the ecological potentials and pitfalls of contemporary popular music, in part through ethnographic fieldwork among performers, audiences, and activists. Ultimately, he explains how popular music dramatically reflects both the contradictions and dreams of communities searching for sustainability.

Published by: Temple University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

First, thanks go to Mick Gusinde-Duffy at Temple University Press for his enthusiastic support and faith in the project and to Amanda Steele for her hard work. Thanks also go to Jane Barry and Lynne Frost for their highly professional editing, to Gary Kramer for his promotional efforts, and to the entire Temple University Press staff. ...

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pp. 1-12

U2 hates the planet. At least their 360° Tour made it seem that way. With “a steel structure rising 150 feet from the floor over a massive stage with rotating bridges” (U2 Station website), the band’s stadium show was the height of industrial excess. This giant stage apparatus was erected before each show, disassembled afterward, and trucked on to the next city.

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1. Pop Goes the Planet: Global Music and the Environmental Crisis

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pp. 13-48

A long line of cars motored slowly down the road. It was a burning hot day in the high desert of Washington State, July 30, 2011. The metal pilgrims inched toward their holy shrine, the Gorge, a natural amphitheater on the Columbia River. Soundgarden’s faithful fans would be ritually released that night, ...

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2. The Musical Nation: Popular Music and the American Soundscape

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pp. 49-82

This chapter is about the ecological implications of American popular music. The journey will take us from Joe Hill to Ke$ha, from purple mountain majesties to the National Mall. The chapter will also feature the voices and perspectives of American activists. However, we will start with the songs that connect America, a nation of people, to America, the land.

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3. Regional Geography in Song: Music Makes Place

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pp. 83-128

Musicians transform geographic regions into living myths. For example, Greek lyricists provided mythic histories for ancient Mediterranean landscapes. Homer’s sung poetry gave the Mediterranean world new meaning, rooting contemporaneous imaginations in lyrical histories that seemed to reach back to the beginning of time. ...

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4. Local Music: A Tonic for the Troops?

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pp. 129-198

Previous chapters described music and musicians who have influenced people across the globe and nation. But what are the rest of us to do? What about local music, the kind that anyone can make? Theoretically, this is where music matters most, at least from an ecological perspective. It is where we live. ...

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pp. 199-204

After eight years, this research still feels incomplete. Despite a lot of hard work, I feel as if the project is just getting started. Of course, all musicians think that. Almost every musician I have met thinks that he or she is about to write, record, or perform a song that will capture the audience’s imagination or finally scratch their artistic itch. ...


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pp. 205-220


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pp. 221-222


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pp. 223-229

About the Author

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pp. 230-230

E-ISBN-13: 9781439907139
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439907122

Page Count: 242
Illustrations: 7
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 830023572
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ecomusicology

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Rock music -- History and criticism.
  • Folk music -- History and criticism.
  • Environment -- Songs and music -- History and criticism.
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