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Cruising a Road to Nowhere: Mechanics and Mysteries of the Pop Moment

Devin McKinney
Popular Music
Vol. 24, No. 3, These Magic Moments (Oct., 2005), pp. 311-321
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3877520
Page Count: 11
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Cruising a Road to Nowhere: Mechanics and Mysteries of the Pop Moment
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Abstract

This paper examines key moments from three pop songs - Carole King's 'A Road to Nowhere' (1966), Eminem's 'Stan' (2000), and Smokey Robinson's 'Cruisin" (1979) -and considers the kinds of meanings and '' un-meanings' such brief musical snatches might contain or imply. The first is posited as a turning point in Carole King's life and career, one bridging her early song-writing achievements and later solo persona; the second as a throwback in disguise, contemporary in voice and attitude but nonetheless invoking the unlikely example of the Shangri-Las; and the last as an instance of 'un-meaning', art which achieves itself not through articulation but through implication, which sensually 'moves' rather than intellectually 'places' its auditor. Throughout the paper, the often radically subjective writings of Walter Pater are employed as a model of criticism which is open to the imaginative possibilities of intense artistic moments.

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