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DamagedMusicality and Race in Early American Punk$
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Evan Rapport

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496831217

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496831217.001.0001

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“Raw Power”: Protopunk Transformations of the Blues

“Raw Power”: Protopunk Transformations of the Blues

(p.35) 2 “Raw Power”: Protopunk Transformations of the Blues

Evan Rapport

University Press of Mississippi

Punk’s musical style can be considered as beginning with the transformations to blues resources explored mostly by white baby boomers invested in the sixties counterculture, especially in the northern Midwest, such as the Stooges and the MC5. Their approaches to the blues were a response to the changing stakes of musical expressions of whiteness and Blackness during the 1960s, connected to the social upheaval surrounding so-called white flight to the suburbs and the Second Great Migration of African Americans from the South. Some similar approaches to the blues were also cultivated in New York among musicians such as the Velvet Underground. Their music emphasized riffs, limited harmonic movement, and other features which are described in this chapter as the “Raw Power” approach to punk. But despite punk’s deep musical roots in the blues, the discourse around punk served to obscure these connections.

Keywords:   blues, Stooges, counterculture, Velvet Underground, white flight

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