Gordon Thompson is Professor of Music at Skidmore College. His book, Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out, offers an insider’s view of the British pop-music recording industry. Starting tomorrow he will be providing hints to a musical riddle. His introduction is below and be sure to check back everyday this week for hints. The answer will be revealed on Monday! Feel free to guess the answer in the comments.
Part of what makes being a college professor fun lies in introducing students to subjects I know they will love. All of them have heard examples of sixties British rock and pop, but perhaps unsurprisingly, they arrive with a smattered education. I offer courses on this music ever year and always find the classes filled with enthusiastic students who want to share what they have learnt with their parents, perhaps as a way trump adult knowledge.
As an ethnomusicologist, I begin by culturally contextualizing the music, the musicians, the modes of production/distribution, and the consumers in this era. In that spirit, and inspired by my love of mysteries, I thought that this month I would provide something appropriate for Oxford’s blog readership. A recent quiz by Justyna Zajac on American libraries made me realize that in the age of the Internet, readers can obtain answers to questions with a few keystrokes. The information age pervades everything we know or think we know, including pop music with its numerous on-line biographies and discographies. I wanted something more challenging.
And so, contorting a question I might ask my students about British popular music in the fifties and sixties, I have framed a problem in the form of a riddle. I will expand the doggerel with additional lines on each of the next three days. On Monday, I will provide an explanation of the riddle. Along the way, I encourage you to share your guesses and reasoning.