The Place of (Popular) Culture: Music and The City


As we have seen, popular culture such as music is often rooted in, or makes reference to, very specific locales such as cities, neighborhoods, landmarks or natural features. Thus music is a very powerful cultural medium that often makes significant referrals to geographic features such as the natural environment and human artifacts and institutions. From our discussion of the city earlier in this course we know how important the city has become to human life and culture —indeed, images of the urban permeate our daily lives. Popular music and especially music lyrics often make specific reference to places such as cities in very immediate and often insightful ways.

In this essay you will need to:

Define what is meant by cultural geography and how culture is linked to place.

Using the concept of local musical spaces describe how and why music has a strong place or geographic orientation.

Analyze a piece of popular music and by referring to the above concepts, discuss how a song and in particular, its lyrics relates to place.

When doing (iii) you’ll need to discuss what the song says about the place it describes. For example, what specific references does the song make to geographic features i.e. neighborhoods, streets, buildings or places where people congregate? How does the city and these features make the writer/composer feel? Is the city, its geographic features and its inhabitants a place of liberation, anger, resistance, happiness or sadness –why?

Your paper should briefly describe the song and its lyrics, but we are not interested in just simple description. Remember, it is important you link your song to themes we have discussed in lectures, discussions, and course readings.

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Please include a copy of the lyrics of the song that you have selected.