The Mothership Connection: Mythscape and Unity in the Music of Parliament

The Mothership Connection
Mythscape and Unity in the Music of Parliament

Kurt Baer
Indiana University

Due to Afro-centric and Afro-futurist themes and the lyrical content of some of their songs, the music of funk musician George Clinton and his band Parliament has been referred to by scholars (e.g. Brown 2008; Nama 2008; McLeod 2003) as linked to the Black Nationalist movement. Other sources, including song lyrics and interviews with Clinton, emphasize themes of promoting unity among people of all races. Although these themes of racial solidarity and unity without regard to race may at first be seen as contradictory, I argue that both interpretations arise from Parliament?s creation of what I am calling a ?unified place.? Through images of places set in outer space and at the bottom of the ocean that are disseminated through the lyrics, album covers, liner notes, costumes, advertisements, and performances of their songs, the band provides the means to turn these abstract spaces into familiar places filled with over-the-top characters and their mythologized stories. These places, constructed from particular and often romanticized landscapes by the individual through such decontextualized images?what Andy Bennett (2002) refers to as ?mythscapes??are then ?brought to life? in performance through devices such as enactment to create this sense of unity. I argue that it is because this enacted mythscape is individually constructed through decontextualized and often ambiguous images that scholars have found such apparently contradictory themes of unity within the same body of music. Continue reading “The Mothership Connection: Mythscape and Unity in the Music of Parliament”


Corridos in Migrant Memory

Chew Sánchez, Martha I. Corridos in Migrant Memory. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. pp. 246 34 halftones, 4 maps, index. Paper $29.95.

Heather A. Vrana
Indiana University

Since the informal declaration of war between the drug cartels and the U.S. and Mexican states, the border zone at El Paso and Ciudad Juarez has become the obsession of gangs, federal police, local police, civilian vigilantes, NGOs, journalists, and academics. Corridos in Migrant Memory apprehends this border region not by spatial practice but by representational space and the song form of the corrido. Following earlier work on Mexican folk song by Américo Paredes, Vicente Mendoza, John McDowell, and Guillermo Hernández, Martha I. Chew Sánchez considers the function of corridos in migrant experience.

Continue reading “Corridos in Migrant Memory”

Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story

 Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story

 Chad Buterbaugh
Indiana University

Professional Irish storytelling reaches an audience well beyond Ireland, yet many stories are infused with specific information about Irish customs and culture. The listener who is unfamiliar with such specifics must rely on the storyteller to mediate perspectives on Irish culture that are at once comprehensive and relatively easy to understand.

This paper focuses on a single performance of a story about a bewitched field in Ireland. In particular, it explores how place meanings may be mediated in social, legislative, religious, and folkloristic contexts. The narrated, multilocal presentation of these contexts then create a story in which unfamiliar listeners are invited to a deeper understanding of a place with which they have no personal experience. Continue reading “Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story”