Joshua Friedberg is a music historian, teacher, singer-songwriter, and sometime radio DJ based in Chicago. He has a Master's degree in English from Northeastern Illinois University, and his PopMatters article, "Racializing Rock: The '60s and the White Sounds of 'Pet Sounds,'" won first place in the Illinois Woman's Press Association competition for online feature articles published in 2016.
Recorded in late 1993 and achieving notoriety as leader Kurt Cobain's epitaph, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York is back for a 25th anniversary reissue. Are the new rehearsal tracks enough to justify buying the album again?
Viewing Aretha Franklin's work through a focus on race, gender, and other categories of analysis can challenge us to do the same with all music, acknowledging how multiple points of oppression and privilege impact the production, consumption, and reception of a wide range of music.
The historical references the virtuosic instrumental work, and the stunning close harmonies all took intelligence and skill to master, but that doesn't mean that Time (The Revelator) should be beyond critique.
Pet Sounds is not a racist text, but its impact was racist because it further encoded rock as a white genre, perpetuating the institutionalized prejudice that relegated African Americans to the margins of rock.
Black rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and Arthur Lee (Love), as well as white soul musicians in the racially integrated bands playing on recordings of singers like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, existed during the '60s. So why is rock and soul so black and white?