Weird American Music

Case Studies of Underground Resistance, BarlowGirl, Jackalope, Charles Ives, and Waffle House Music



The author takes Greil Marcus’s capacious category of “weirdness” in new directions to examine a tension in certain expressions of American music and music communities since the 1980s. It locates this tension in the space between the artists’ striving for authenticity in the values they want to communicate on the one hand, and the demands of the marketplace on the other. The results are “weird” in both the economic and artistic sense.

The book follows five different case studies: Underground Resistance, BarlowGirl, Jackalope, the latter-day reception of Charles Ives, and Waffle House Music. All have struggled against co-optation, and arguably faced defeat in their efforts to stay authentic during an era in which lifestyle and ethnicity have become commodified, and both religious and humanistic values have become products.