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Mourning and praising Colony Records

By Liz Wollman
Colony Records, which will close on Saturday, September 15th after 64 years of business, is no mere record store. A cavernous, crowded, and never particularly tidy place, Colony has kept one foot firmly in its Tin Pan Alley past, and the other in its media-saturated present. The largest and easily most famous provider of sheet music in New York City, Colony also houses cassettes, CDs, DVDs, karaoke recordings, an absolutely enormous collection of records, and all kinds of memorabilia

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John Winston Ono Lennon, Everyman

By Gordon Thompson
On 9 October, many in the world will remember John Winston Ono Lennon, born on this date in 1940. He, of course, would have been amused, although part of him (the part that self-identified as “genius”) would have anticipated the attention. However, he might also have questioned why the Beatles and their music, and this Beatle in particular, would remain so current in our cultural thinking. When Lennon described the Beatles as just a band that made it very, very big, why did we doubt him?

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“Davy” Jones, actor and musician

By Gordon Thompson
As the Beatles made their historic debut on American television in February 1964, the cast of Oliver!, the actor playing the role of the Artful Dodger, and other acts on the show watched from the wings as the hysteria unfolded. Davy Jones had started his acting career on British television, making his debut appearance in the venerable Coronation Street followed by the gritty Liverpool police drama, Z-Cars.

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Beatlemania

Fifty years ago, in March of 1963, The Beatles released their first album entitled Please Please Me. While the music partly based on British folk and popular forms—including skiffle and music-hall styles—American rock ’n’ roll was by far their dominant resource. The album quickly dominated the British charts and led the group to a path of superstardom that changed the world forever.

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George Martin Goes Independent, 2 Sept 1965

By Gordon Thompson
When George Martin first entered the recording industry in the early 1950s, assisting Oscar Preuss at EMI’s Parlophone, he encountered the end of the mechanical era. The company’s facilities on Abbey Road in genteel St. John’s Wood still used lathes to record sound by cutting grooves in warm wax with energy provided by weights and pulleys, like a child of Big Ben. The sheer mechanics of this kind of professional recording demanded large…

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A Spice Girl Symphony: The Olympic Closing Ceremony

The 2012 Olympic games concluded on Sunday with choreographer Kim Gavin’s musical extravaganza. As with Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, Gavin was intent on impressing his vision of British music to the world. To underscore its significance, he titled the closing “A Symphony of British Music.” This title was a peculiar choice considering that classical historical musicology considers the “symphony” as a specific genre of classical music: a serious multi-movement work composed by a renowned composer, and performed by an orchestra.

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The sounds of American counterculture and citizenship

We’re told many stories about the 1960s, typically clichéd tales of excess and revolution. But there’s more to the popular music of the 1960s. There are many ways in which rock music has shaped our ideas of individual freedom and collective belonging. Rock became a way for participants in American culture and counterculture to think about what it meant to be an American citizen, a world citizen, a citizen-consumer, or a citizen-soldier.

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Expressing ourselves about expressiveness in music

Picture the scene. You’re sitting in a box at the Royal Albert Hall, or the Vienna Musikverein. You have purchased tickets to hear Beethoven’s Ninth symphony performed by an internationally renowned orchestra, and they are playing it in a way that sounds wonderful. But what makes this such a powerful performance?

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Music and the Olympic Opening Ceremony: Pageantry and Pastiche

By Ron Rodman
Film director Danny Boyle’s gargantuan presentation at the opening ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad in London had little to do with the actual games, but had everything to do with his vision of Britain. The show was full of pageantry, drawing upon the 17th century English masque, a sort of loosely structured play with dance, music, costumes, songs and speeches, and festive scenery, with allegorical references to royalty, who would sometimes participate in the show. All elements of the masque were present, including the participation of the Queen herself, who stepped into the narrative briefly.

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Preparing for BSC 2014

By Caitie-Jane Cook
Tomorrow sees the start of the British Society of Criminology annual conference, this year held at the University of Liverpool. The three-day conference (10th-12th July, preceded by a postgraduate conference on the 9th) will see academics from across the globe come together to discuss an expansive range of topics, from prisons and policing to hate crime and community justice, and I, for one, cannot wait to attend.

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