If, as John Lennon reportedly stated, “Before Elvis there was nothing,” then after Elvis there had to be something, right? That something, argues Robert Pielke in Rock Music in American Culture: The Sounds of Revolution, 2nd Edition (McFarland, 2012), is a cultural revolution with the expansion of individualism and diversity at its core. Originally published in 1986 as You Say You Want a Revolution, Pielke insists that, rather than being a part of the revolution, rock music was and is the force behind it. All revolutions, writes Pielke, both negate and affirm cultural values. Consequently, Elvis negated existing values of race, sex, and gender while, a few years later, the Beatles affirmed a new set of values to take their place. Included in Pielke’s tale of revolution is an examination of the mediums in which rock music comes: radio, records, film, television, and the internet. In this second edition Pielke extends the revolution through the counter-revolution of the Reagan years and into the twenty-first century.
Robert G. Pielke is a retired professor of philosophy and the author of many scholarly articles.
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