You couldn’t make it up.
From the Musicology-AMS network:
|Billy Joel in 2009.
Photo Credit: David Shankbone
The first-ever academic conference dedicated to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel takes place this fall at Colorado College. But this is not simply a gathering for scholars and/or enthusiasts. Rather, the conference has been conceived as a “public musicology” event—graciously co-sponsored by the American Musicological Society—from its initial planning stages. It is an opportunity to put on display our collective ability to talk about music familiar to non-academic audiences in ways that are accessible, insightful, engaging, and entertaining.
With one month remaining to our April 8th Call For Papers deadline, I wanted to take this opportunity—on behalf of my co-organizer Joshua S. Duchan (Wayne State University) and the members of our esteemed program committee, Eric Hung (Rider University), Katherine Meizel (Bowling Green State University), and Albin Zak (University of Albany)—to address a few common questions about the conference. With any luck, what follows will encourage participation from those that might otherwise hesitate to submit a proposal.
I respectfully (and playfully) present our Frequently Asked Questions document:
“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”: The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel
A Public Musicology Conference Hosted by Colorado College
October 7-8, 2016
Q: Why Billy Joel?
A: First, why not? Joel’s dynamic career spans nearly five decades and he is the third highest-selling solo musician in the United States. A majority of his more than thirty studio, live, or compilation albums have been certified multi-platinum. He currently plays a once-a-month, sold-out gig at Maddison Square Garden. Despite such popularity, however, Joel’s music and live performance has been accompanied by a somewhat uneasy relationship with critics, while scholarship on his extensive output remains scant—a gap that needs to be filled.
Second, given our desire to stage a “public musicology” conference, Joel’s music provides an ideal vehicle to explore the musicological issues and topics that matter to us most in front of a non-academic audience. The popularity of his music will draw attendees who might not otherwise feel inclined to attend a musicologically oriented conference. Additionally, those in attendance will likely be well-versed in the music being discussed. This familiarity provides a common point of departure that might not exist for more obscure musical subjects (not that us musicologists would ever deal in obscurity).
Q: I’m not a popular music scholar. Can I still submit a paper?
A: Of course. One of the goals of the conference is to allow people who would not normally have an opportunity/excuse to work in such directions to do so. However, presenters should not feel bound to the methodologies and approaches utilized by popular music studies. Scholars from a wide variety of fields are encouraged to submit a proposal, including musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, history, comparative literature, sociology, and other related fields. Non-scholars may also submit proposals and will be considered alongside those from academics.