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CFP: Special Issue of Popular Music and Society on Randy Newman
full name / name of organization:
Michael Borshuk (Texas Tech University)
POPULAR MUSIC AND SOCIETY
Edited by Robert Brazeau and Michael Borshuk
The nephew of two studio film composers, and initially a paid composer for a California music publisher, Randy Newman, throughout his career, has offered a unique and enduring challenge to the popular music milieu into which he arrived. That is, despite making his eponymous solo recording debut in 1968, emerging as a singer-songwriter contemporary to personal artists like Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, Newman has always stepped away from the naked introspection or unmasked biographical tendencies of his generational peers. Ostensibly less “serious” than his contemporaries, Newman, instead, opts for wry social commentary and moving narrative exploration as sung through a series of voices that are variously poignant, self-effacing, and abject. (When Dylan was singing “Lay Lady Lay” and Mitchell, “Both Sides Now,” for instance, Newman sang “Tickle Me” and told us of “Davy the Fat Boy.”) Nor is his generational singularity any less obvious on a strictly musical level. Newman’s sound extends far back historically, before rock and roll, blending Tin Pan Alley song patterns, ragtime arrangements, and orchestral flourishes to complement the theatricality of his lyrical content. A professional in the truest sense of the word, Newman and his musical effect emerge out of a workmanlike fusion of aesthetic influences, with enough of the artist’s uniquely surreal humor to defy predictability.
• Newman’s eclectic mix of influences, and the meanings this musical fusion engenders within popular music’s increasing emphasis on categorization and genre.
Potential contributors are asked to submit abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief CV before December 15, 2013. Those selected for inclusion will be invited to submit full articles (6,000 to 8,000 words) by April 15, 2014. Articles will be peer-reviewed. Inquiries regarding potential essay topics and their suitability for inclusion are welcome. Please include your professional/academic affiliations, a postal address, and preferred e-mail contact with your essay; for purposes of blind peer-review, please do not include your name within the body of the essay. Please submit all documents to: Robert Brazeau at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Borshuk at email@example.com.