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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

Goodbye, Blackberry Way Neil Powell

IN MARCH 1977, I was invited to contribute an essay to 'a book on the use of pop music in education': much earlier, an educational journal had published a piece of mine on the 'literary' standards of pop lyrics, so I must have seemed a likely contributor. I accepted the invitation, indicating that my essay-which I wrote shortly afterwards-would contain 'considerable reservations about the present role of popular culture'. However, the proposed book has not appeared and my own contribution would have been, I suspect, very much at odds with the editorial stance: for the same editors have produced two books, apparently intended for use in English teaching, called Football Workbook and Pop Workbook, which imply alarmingly different cultural values from those I wanted to advocate.

What follows is a slightly revised version of the essay I wrote in 1977.

No one who cares about literature or music can be wholly unaware of the powerful influence of contemporary pop music and its attendant peculiar difficulties of discussion and evaluation. In its Winter 1974 number, The Use of English published an article of mine entitled 'Is There a Poetry of Rock?' which was mainly a consideration of the claims made and implied by Richard Goldstein's anthology The Poetry of Rock (New York, 1969); in its Autumn 1976 number, the same journal included my piece called 'The End of English', in which I argued that the existence of intelligent prose was threatened by careless uncritical 'criticism' which ...


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