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Genre in Popular Music$
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Fabian Holt

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226350370

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226350400.001.0001

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Roots and Refigurations

Roots and Refigurations

(p.31) Chapter Two Roots and Refigurations
Genre in Popular Music
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates the role of genre in a contemporary revival culture. It evolves from a case study of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and its representation of the American South in the 1930s. It also explores the soundtrack of the film and its connections with the culture of American roots music. O Brother is a larger-than-life Hollywood adventure that glorifies the past in accordance with dominant sensibilities of the present. It has contributed to the growth of the emerging culture of American roots music. The PBS products show that the word roots are being used as an essentialist metaphor for timeless authenticity in the context of a common cultural history. The O Brother soundtrack was not designed for the traditional bluegrass fan. The contemporary American roots music revival develops a new context for understanding some of the roots impulses.

Keywords:   genre, O Brother, American South, soundtrack, American roots music, contemporary revival culture, cultural history

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