The relationship between popular music, literature and the written word throughout the 20th and 21st centuries has extended from their critical connections as subjects of study, to structural similarities, and a shared narrative power to represent and shape cultural, social and political history. Explore the ongoing encounters and collisions between these disciplines, and some of the key artists and writers at the heart of their intersections.
In 2016, Bob Dylan received widespread media attention for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, in recognition of the poetic value of his lyrics. Discover the story behind the enduring critical interest in his ‘song-poems’ and Dylan’s own intention for his songs as continuous lyrical autobiography, statements of political protest, and as an outlet for his disillusionment with the big city, in the style of poets such as Charles Baudelaire or Arthur Rimbaud.
Another poet-songwriter and Bob Dylan’s contemporary, Leonard Cohen, transitioned from writing formalistic poetry and prose, to poetry in song. Learn about how jazz and poetry readings by Jack Kerouac had a notable early influence on his work.
American writer and figurehead for the ‘Beat Generation’, Jack Kerouac, lived a life infused by the sound of songs at home, out on the road, and within live performances. Read more about the rich association between literature and music in his work and how his peripatetic style sought to mirror bebop jazz rhythms.
Also discover Kerouac’s influence on modern artists from Van Morrison to Pearl Jam and that of his fellow Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg on The Beatles, as well as how Paul Simon came to reinvent their American road narrative.
Intertextuality is a device mainly known within a literary context, but author Quentin Williams explores the frequency of intertextual references within rap, along with its multiple levels of meaning and linguistic subtlety. Discover more about the way MCs sample from everyday texts circulating in and outside of hip-hop spaces and how their performances may be indicative of intertextual sampling.
Reporting or writing about music is a key component of the industry’s ecosystem. Read more about music journalism’s common critical criteria, its role in capturing the essence of music, and how its connection to the more literary style of New Journalism led to the development of the cult of the rock journalist.
Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World Volume IX explores the eclectic popular music genres of the Caribbean and Latin America, including Argentinian folclore, milonga, and rock nacional.
Find out more about one of his greatest albums, Bitches Brew, in the 33 1/3 edition by George Grella Jr.