Project 1: Paint a Vulgar Picture
Reissue as a narrative tool in popular music history
This thesis examines the relationship between popular music, heritage and collective memory, drawing upon narrative approaches of memory and identity to explain how the process of ‘reissue’ can enforce existing or create new narratives for popular music's past. Narratives can provide a sense of belonging and identity through their connections with specific times and places, and help us understand the past in the context of the present. However, narratives can be altered via heritage institutions at a national, local or individual level, through ‘DIY’ curation, preservation practices, efforts of the music industry, fans and many more factors. This thesis seeks to develop the existing theoretical framework of music reissues, analyzing them as cultural artifacts that transform the historical meaning and cultural status of the original text. The influential role of paratextual and extratextual materials is closely analyzed through examples such as Luka Bop’s ‘Who is William Onyeabor?’ Light in the attic’s reissue of Rodriguez’ ‘Cold Fact’ and a case study on the 40th anniversary reissue of the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’, where I outline how new narratives are formed and existing ones are altered to create a collective understanding of popular music’s past. Now that popular music is being culturally and historically repositioned through the application of heritage discourses, changing definitions of heritage and culture have led to new understanding and articulations of popular music as ‘cultural heritage’. This raises questions about how popular music history is understood and how it is narrated through discursive practices and meaning and value construction.