The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Posts by Ann Powers

Pop music critic Ann Powers searches for the language of rock and roll

Monday, September 19: 1:45 p.m.
Posted by Ann Powers
Ann Powers. (Photo credit: Mito Habe-Evans)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will introduce the annual Jane Scott Memorial Lecture Honoring Excellence in Rock Journalism with a talk by pop music critic Ann Powers titled “Rock and Roll Started with the Shimmy: The Erotic Engine of American Pop” on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. in the Museum’s Foster Theater. Click here for more information and details on how to attend this free event.

As a music critic, I am preoccupied with sex. I’m human, and happen to be heterosexual, so I have noticed the charms of certain rock and soul seducers from Robert Plant to Maxwell, over the years. But that kind of desire only goes so deep. What I’m talking about is more serious: the quest to understand how rock and roll, and really most of American music, became the main metaphorical space where we pursue ideas about sexuality, and flesh out our emotions.

American popular music has been “dirty” pretty much since its beginnings in the illicit vulgarity of the minstrel show, described so well by Eric Lott in his classic book on the subject, Love and Theft. Yet as it moved through the decades, American ...

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