Rock 'n' Roll Grad School

'If I can't dance about your architecture, I don't wanna be a part of it.'

But wait. Did those buttery Dead licks convince us to renounce our love of idea-stuffed pop talk? Not a chance. In fact, it made us horny for more. And for more perspective—more discussion of the ways women changed rock, the way pop creates pop place, and power, and race. The way age and family and speed and silence and food and childhood and memory and sex affect and effect what pops. In the most basic sense, the conference seems to have taken the critics off the treadmill and made the academics laugh. As Simon Frith put it: "The general sense of people having something interesting to say and having gone to some trouble to say it in an interesting way was astounding." Smith College's Steve Waksman left happy: "It seemed like the vibe at the conference was that people could be funny and still make a point." And techno lover Pat Blashill, whose talk on the history of "infernal devices" gave some shine to the likes of the TB-303, broke some off for the exposure he got to "the sorts of analytical tools I want to be able to use more deftly to explain why I love that sub-bass sound that rattles my skeleton."

illustration: Douglas W. Boehm

If that's not experiencing music, I don't know what is.

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