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1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About
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1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In a tour de force of lyrical theory, Joshua Clover boldly reimagines how we understand both pop music and its social context in a vibrant exploration of a year famously described as "the end of history." Amid the historic overturnings of 1989, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, pop music also experienced striking changes. Vividly conjuring cultural sensations and even ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Ben Bush
Like a lot of cultural criticism, a lot of the claims in this book didn't seem, you know, true. (By which I guess I mean, it seems like you could make almost the opposite thesis if you set your mind to it.) For example, Clover describes the reign of teen pop as 1989-2001 (which seems pretty arbitrary other than how it coincides with political events). He pinpoints the death of vinyl at the time when there was the first number one single not released on vinyl (1989) rather than say the point at w ...more
Wendy Trevino
I am 20 pages from the finish of this book, and I just couldn't wait to say it is excellent. I liked JClo's take on The Matrix too, but I like this book even better. Where "Right Here, Right Now" (the song from which the book takes its title) insists on "the unanalyzable quality of the image-event," Clover analyzes and does a brilliant job bringing Fukuyama's assertions about the end of history and the triumph of the Western idea, Debord's Society of the Spectacle, and Jameson's "Postmodernism, ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Journalists of Music
Recommended to Joe by: Kylie Minogue
JClo has the uncanny ability to place pop within the political with a humor and grace that is seen seldom in our current era. While I've yet to read much of Greil Marcus, and am looking forward to it, I get the feeling that this book would be some combination of Marcus and Jameson and that should fill you with joy and dystopia all at once. Of the things covered within the text my favorite moment has to be when a single footnote appears linking to a certain Village Voice article wrote by one Jane ...more
Jarl Anderson
If you can surf (or hack through) the dense thickets of critical theory, this book presents moments of sharp insight for music fans.
Joshua Clover fascinates me as a bridge figure. Between WWII and Vietnam, writing about the arts operated within a paradigm troped by figures of high and low, so that popular culture was low while poetry was high. [I'll skip the evidence; this claim requires not so much a footnote as a bibliography.] Clover writes here -- I can't think of another doing it so well -- as a poet doing rock criticism, a discourse which frames itself in the Sixties in an agon against poetry. 1989's dust flap -- Clove ...more
Alastair Kemp
The tag line is from a Jesus Jones song, the aim of the critique is Francis Fukuyama's claim that the period from 1989-1991 marked the End of History and the triumph of liberal democracy and freemarket capitalism. Using music that became successful in the charts during this time as an entry point, trying to see if they do or can represent this claim. He charts the move from Nation of Islam influenced East Coast hip hop to East Coast gangsta, the emergence of rave in the UK, the internalisation o ...more
Booth Babcock
Maybe I've been out of school too long, but I didn't really get what the point was. I think it was supposed to be using the music of 1989 as a metaphor for the world events that were going on at the same time. Or something. Academic treatments of pop culture subjects seem, well, seem like something left over from 1989.
Michael Greening
Difficult to review indeed. At times a joy to read, at others Clover's academic writing is headache-inducing. The themes are fascinating and are often provocative; only occasionally are they befuddling.
This author spoke on campus last year and, while I didn't get a chance to see him, I heard that he was excellent - and I love a good book about music. So far - I had no idea Jesus Jones' "Right here, Right now" was about the Berlin Wall and dissed Tracey Chapman, Prince, and Bob Dylan! Of course, I *was* 13.
this book drove me absolutely mad. i could see why he was making the arguments and his skill as a poet certainly helped with language choice here, but it just seemed so incorrect so much of the time or filled with mad leaps of faith in the author's logic.
April Raine
Fascinating and compelling argument and analysis; revealing the importance of popular culture within the study and understanding of history. It will change the way you look at popular music.
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