Popular Music and the Myths of Madness by Dr Spelman Nicola

By Dr Spelman Nicola

Reports of opera, movie, tv, and literature have established how buildings of insanity should be referenced to be able to stigmatise but in addition release protagonists in ways in which make stronger or problem contemporaneous notions of normality. yet to this point little or no examine has been performed on how insanity is represented in renowned tune. so that it will redress this imbalance, Nicola Spelman identifies hyperlinks among the anti-psychiatry move and representations of insanity in renowned track of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, analysing a number of the ways that principles serious of institutional psychiatry are embodied either verbally and musically in particular songs by way of David Bowie, Lou Reed, purple Floyd, Alice Cooper, The Beatles, and Elton John. She concentrates on meanings that could be made on the aspect of reception as a result of rules approximately insanity that have been circulating on the time. those rules are then associated with modern conventions of musical expression for you to illustrate yes interpretative chances. aiding proof comes from renowned musicological research - incorporating discourse research and social semiotics - and research of socio-historical context. the individuality of the interval in query is tested through a extra generalised evaluate of songs drawn from numerous kinds and eras that have interaction with the subject of insanity in various and sometimes conflicting methods. The conclusions drawn show the level to which anti-psychiatric principles filtered via into pop culture, supplying insights into renowned music's skill to query normal suppositions approximately insanity along its power to convey problems with men's insanity into the general public enviornment as a regularly overlooked subject for dialogue.

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Popular Music and the Myths of Madness

Reviews of opera, movie, tv, and literature have established how buildings of insanity can be referenced with a purpose to stigmatise but in addition release protagonists in ways in which strengthen or problem contemporaneous notions of normality. yet to this point little or no study has been carried out on how insanity is represented in well known song.

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125. , p. 110. 51 Lobotomy, like EST, was introduced in the 1930s and widely administered up until the early 1950s, when reservations concerning its effectiveness and the introduction of drug therapy resulted in it becoming almost obsolete. It is interesting that Bowie refers to the operation some 20 years after its decline, although, due to the extreme nature of the procedure and its much-publicized detrimental effects (illustrated in, for example, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), it is not surprising that it should remain so prominent within the public conception of mental illness and its treatment.

47 Sander Gilman, Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race and Madness (Ithaca and London, 1985), p. 129. 32 Popular Music and the Myths of Madness the similarities in experience for the mental patient and the prison inmate in terms of their enforced confinement, and yet the sentiments expressed unexpectedly prepare for the ensuing chorus as Bowie pleads: ‘Don’t set me free, I’m as heavy as can be’. The humour here is accentuated through the accompanying bass line, which swoops from the root down to the 5th of the chord and back up again as if struggling to maintain its footing.

I was surprised to discover how few women artists had engaged with issues of madness during the period in question. Indeed, I located only three songs written and/or performed by women in the early 1970s that contain traces of an antipsychiatric standpoint, and it is fair to say that none of these demonstrate the acute concentration of ideas (both musical and verbal) witnessed in the songs of their male counterparts. 58 Joni Mitchell’s ‘Twisted’ (1974) further illustrates the widespread interest in the subject of madness at this time, but is actually a cover of a song 58 Safka’s better-known ‘What Have They Done to My Song, Ma’ (1970) had already touched on the topic of madness, with its second verse incorporating an unexpected allusion to brain damage and insanity: ‘Look what they’ve done to my brain, Ma.

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