The Lyrics of Civility: Biblical Images and Popular Music Lyrics in American Culture

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Psychology Press, 1999 - Music - 217 pages
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This book is the first comprehensive scholarly study of religious images in popular music. Examining bestsellers from 1906 to 1971, the work explores the role religious images have in the secularization of American culture. Popular music lyrics that express an adherence to a sacred order are couched in inoffensive, content-less language. These lyrics of civility reflect and shape the increasing secularization of American culture in the twentieth century. The analysis focuses primarily on the way these lyrics reduce the meaning of the terms and theology of the Biblical faith. The aesthetic of civility carries over into theology, the narratives, and the accompanying instrumental arrangements of songs that adhere to the Biblical sacred order. On the other hand, lyrics that reject the Biblical tradition use content-filled, offensive language. The result is that displaced adherents withdraw from the Biblical tradition and turn to alternative cultural religions, or idols of attraction, including popular music, that offer meaning to fill a void in the individual. The secularization of American society, therefore, is not a withdrawal from the idea of religion itself. The analysis focuses o

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