Narrative Theory as an Analytical Tool in the Study of Popular Music Texts
Music and Letters, 88, (2), . (doi:10.1093/ml/gcm006).
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Narrative theory and popular music are not the most obvious of bedfellows: the former lends itself primarily to the elaboration (or analysis) of extended narrative structures, while the latter tends to manifest itself in three- to four-minute songs describing essentially static cameos, vignettes, or states of mind. That popular music texts may nevertheless contain elements of narration is hardly in doubt, however, as is shown by such songs as The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ (1968), Kate Bush's ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1978), or The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ (1979). But narrative structures truly come into their own at the point where albums begin to function as significant units of music organization. Referring primarily to Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) and The Who's Quadrophenia (1973), this article explores the ways in which music, lyrics, prose, art work, and other elements can be used to create and describe both single and multiple narratives.
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