bebop · hip hop · music · postwar

Focusing on the late ’60 and 1970s for next iteration of Bebop to Hip Hop course

The 1976 album “Spinners Live,” which embodied that Philly soul sound, was on heavy rotation when I was a child  in the 1970s, the window on which I will focus next semester in my “Bebop to Hip Hop: Young America and Music” course.

I can’t believe it, but we’re already advising for fall courses. In addition to “American Civilization to 1865,” I’ll be teaching “Bebop to Hip Hop: Young America and Music” (called “Bebop to Hip Hop: American Music” for space purposes in our course description catalogue).

Unlike last semester when I taught the latter, we will home in on the late 1960s and all of the 1970s. I think in this window you can still reach back into the vaults and discuss some of the bebop music being produced in the early 1940s, but also some of the more recent music including hip hop.

For sure, many hip hop performers themselves use the works of R & B and jazz artists, particularly the funkier stuff from the late 1960s and 1970s, a time when the country is in a pivotal moment as certain groups, among them women and people of African descent, were realizing the limits and possibilities of earlier protest.

I will be especially interested in addressing a lot of the social issues before us in the postwar period and what they look like as we watch conservative politics culminate in the election of Ronald Reagan. So much great music in the background. I’m thinking now of what’s coming out of Philadelphia. That Philly soul sound including the Spinners whose “Sadie,” a homage to the black mother, is heard above (I used to play that record like crazy while visiting my aunt Moonpie back in the day).

It’s a sort of counterpoint to Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” (which references Marvin Gaye and the Five Stairsteps, proving we keep looking back as we try to go forward, as I told SportsCenter’s Cari Champion earlier this year). I think, too, of Tupac’s “Dear Mama.”

The course description is below. Looking forward to meeting some new faces and possibly seeing some old ones. Perhaps I will see some on Friday during the faculty curated “Breathe” exhibit in the University of Alabama’s Ferguson Art Gallery. My colleague John Beeler will be spinning records. I’ve already requested, you guessed it, the Spinners. Old school rules.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Bebop to to Hip Hop: Young America and Music Kendrick Lamar once said there’s nothing new under the sun. Indeed, in the last twenty or so years, many artists have “sampled” music created since World War II, especially music from the late 1960s-early 1970s. This course examines postwar music alongside of social developments including the beatnik, Civil Rights, counterculture periods and the rise of conservative thinking. Along the way, we examine the role of young people as consumers and producers of music.

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