NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

From "White Christmas" to Sgt. Pepper: The Conceptual Revolution in Popular Music

David Galenson

NBER Working Paper No. 13308
Issued in August 2007
NBER Program(s):   LS

Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and other songwriters of the Golden Era wrote popular songs that treated common topics clearly and simply. During the mid-1960s Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney created a new kind of popular music that was personal and often obscure. This shift, which transformed popular music from an experimental into a conceptual art, produced a distinct change in the creative life cycles of songwriters. Golden Era songwriters were generally at their best during their 30s and 40s, whereas since the mid-'60s popular songwriters have consistently done their best work during their 20s. The revolution in popular music occurred at a time when young innovators were making similar transformations in other arts: Jean-Luc Godard and his fellow New Wave directors created a conceptual revolution in film in the early '60s, just as Andy Warhol and other Pop artists made painting a conceptual activity.

download in pdf format
   (116 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (116 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13308

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Connolly and Krueger w11282 Rockonomics: The Economics of Popular Music
Galenson w15511 Innovators: Songwriters
Mortimer, Nosko, and Sorensen w16507 Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances
Shiller and Waldfogel w15390 Music for a Song: An Empirical Look at Uniform Song Pricing and its Alternatives
Ferreira and Waldfogel w15964 Pop Internationalism: Has A Half Century of World Music Trade Displaced Local Culture?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us