Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music

Martha Bayles, Author Free Press $24.95 (453p) ISBN 978-0-02-901962-7
Bayles, former TV and arts columnist for the Wall Street Journal , takes the title for her book from the old saying, ``If you don't like the blues, you've got a hole in your soul.'' The author of this wide-ranging study of American popular music maintains that the African American tradition--blues, jazz, gospel--is this country's ``distinctive musical idiom . . . truer to civilized values'' than punk, heavy metal, rap and other antisocial impulses descended from the late-19th century European avant-garde trends in art that led to futurism, surrealism, dada and ultimately to music whose aim is to shock. It is a powerful thesis, but Bayles obfuscates her arguments by forcing all types of music and art into such rigid categories as ``introverted modernism'' and ``extroverted modernism.'' She calls the tendency to shock, for example, ``perverse modernism'' and claims that this antiart, together with racial stereotypes, has kept African American music, which should be a humanizing antidote to the brutal and the obscene, out of the mainstream. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Paperback - 461 pages - 978-0-226-03959-6
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