Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Private words, public emotions: performing confession in indie music

  • Ariana Phillips-Hutton (a1)

Abstract

This essay examines the work of singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons as an example of how confessional performance is constructed within indie music. I contend that both audiences and artists participate in a discourse that draws on narratives of personal communication, intimacy and authenticity in order to create a distinctively confessional aesthetic. This aesthetic orientation is then reflected in performances that are framed as autobiographical and truth-telling. After surveying aspects of indie music that contribute to the formation of this aesthetic, I trace the implications of performed confession through an exploration of the sonic, visual and relational characteristics of Fitzsimmons's performances from his 2008 album The Sparrow and the Crow. By examining how artist and audience construct the confessional, I suggest a new perspective on how the confessional trope operates in indie music.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ake, D. 2002. Jazz Cultures (Berkeley, CA, University of California Press)
Aleshire, J. 2002. ‘Staying news’, in After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography, ed. Graham, D. and Sontag, K. (Saint Paul, MN, Graywolf Press), pp. 1437
Auslander, P. 2004. ‘Performance analysis and popular music: a manifesto’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 14/1, pp. 113
Bach, C.P.E. 1949 [1753]. Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, trans. and ed. Mitchell, W.J. (New York, W. W. Norton)
Bicknell, J. 2005. ‘Just a song? Exploring the aesthetics of popular song performance’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 63/3, pp. 261–70
Bienkiewicz, C. 2012. ‘Interview: William Fitzsimmons’, RockOko (blog), 21 January. http://www.rockoko.pl/en/wywiad-william-fitzsimmons
Brackett, D. 2002. ‘(In search of) musical meaning: genres, categories and crossover’, in Popular Music Studies, ed. Hesmondhalgh, D. and Negus, K. (London, Arnold), pp. 6583
Coetzee, J.M. 1985. ‘Confession and double thoughts: Tolstoy, Rousseau, Dostoevsky’, Comparative Literature, 37/3, pp. 193232
Cohen, S. 2008. ‘William Fitzsimmons’ “Sparrow” is iTunes’ best folk album 2008’, All About Jazz. http://news.allaboutjazz.com/william-fitzsimmons-sparrow-is-itunes-best-folk-album-2008.php (accessed 5 September 2015)
Cone, E.T. 1974. The Composer's Voice (Berkeley, CA, University of California Press)
Cook, N. 2001. ‘Between process and product: music and/as performance’, Music Theory Online, 7/2, n.p. http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.01.7.2/mto.01.7.2.cook.html (accessed 10 September 2014)
Cook, N. 2013. Beyond the Score (New York, Oxford University Press)
Coward, R. 2013. Speaking Personally: The Rise of Subjective and Confessional Journalism (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan)
Dibben, N. 2006. ‘Subjectivity and the construction of emotion in the music of Björk’, Music Analysis, 25/1–2, pp. 171–97
Dibben, N. 2009. ‘Vocal performance and the projection of emotional intimacy’, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology, ed. Scott, D. (Farnham, Ashgate), pp. 317–33
Didion, J. 1961. Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Fabbri, F. 1982. ‘A theory of musical genres: two applications’, in Popular Music Perspectives, ed. Horn, D. and Tagg, P. (London, International Association for the Study of Popular Music), pp. 5281
Fitzsimmons, W. n.d. ‘Biography’. http://www.naimlabel.com/artist-william-fitzsimmons.aspx
Fornäs, J. 1995. Cultural Theory and Late Modernity (London, Sage)
Foucault, M. 1978. The History of Sexuality: Volume I, trans. Hurley, R. (New York, Vintage Books)
Frith, S. 1987. ‘Towards an aesthetic of popular music’, in Music and Society: The Politics of Composition, Performance and Reception, ed. Leppert, R. and McClary, S. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), pp. 133–49
Frith, S. 1996. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music (Oxford, Oxford University Press)
Frith, S. 2004. ‘Why does music make people so cross?Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13/1, pp. 64–9
Goldin-Perschbacher, S. 2007. ‘“Not with you but of you”: “Unbearable intimacy” and Jeff Buckley's transgendered vocality’, in Oh Boy! Masculinities and Popular Music, ed. Jarman-Ivens, F. (New York, Routledge), pp. 213–34
Greenwald, A. 2003. Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo (New York, St Martin's Griffin)
Grossberg, L. 1993. ‘The media economy of rock culture: cinema, postmodernity and authenticity’, in Sound and Vision: The Music Video Reader, ed. Frith, S., Goodwin, A. and Grossberg, L. (London, Routledge), pp. 185209
Hall, S., and du Gay, P. (eds) 1996. Questions of Cultural Identity (London, Sage)
Hart, F.R. 1974. ‘Notes for an anatomy of modern autobiography’, in New Directions in Literary History, ed. Cohen, R. (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul), pp. 221–47
Hibbett, R. 2005. ‘What is indie rock?’, Popular Music and Society 28/1, pp. 5577
Jamison, L. 2014. ‘Confessional writing is not self-indulgent’, The Guardian, 5 July. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/05/leslie-jamison-empathy-exams-confessional-writing-not-self-indulgent (accessed 20 August 2017)
Kot, G. 2001. ‘Review’, Revolver, May–June 2001, p. 120
Krims, A. 2007. Music and Urban Geography (New York, Routledge)
Lacasse, S. 2005. ‘Persona, emotions and technology: the phonographic staging of the popular music voice’, CHARM Symposium 2: Towards a Musicology of Production (The Art of Record Production), 1718 September, London. http://charm.cchcdn.net/redist/pdf/s2Lacasse.pdf
Landau, J. 1969. ‘Review of James Taylor’, Rolling Stone, 19 April 1969, p. 28
Lester, P. 1979. ‘In L.A.’s other Marvin case, it's Gaye vs. Anna Gurdy, with brother Berry in the middle’, People, 11/14, 9 April 1979
Luckman, S. 2013. ‘The aura of the analogue in a digital age’, Cultural Studies Review 19/1, pp. 249–70
Lynsky, D. 2012. ‘Indie rock's slow and painful death’, The Guardian, 16 January. https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2012/jan/16/indie-rock-slow-painful-death (accessed 15 October 2016)
Maddux, R. 2010. ‘Is indie dead?’, Paste, 26 January. https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2010/01/is-indie-dead.html (accessed 15 October 2016)
Minnick, S. 2013. ‘Indie music: is it only for hipsters?’, The Daily Universe, 12 February. http://universe.byu.edu/2013/02/12/indie-music-is-it-only-for-hipsters/ (accessed 15 October 2016)
Moore, A. 2002. ‘Authenticity as authentication’, Popular Music, 21/2, pp. 209–3
Moylen, W. 2002. The Art of Recording: Understanding and Crafting the Mix, 2nd edn (Boston, MA, Focal Press)
Negus, K. 2011. ‘Authorship and the popular song’, Music & Letters, 92/4, pp. 607–29
Reed, R. 2011. ‘William Fitzsimmons: 13 April 2011 – Knoxville, TN’, PopMatters, 22 April. http://www.popmatters.com/review/139835-william-fitzsimmons/ (accessed 19 March 2015)
Roessner, J. 2012. ‘Laughing in tune: REM and the post-confessional lyric’, in The Poetics of American Song Lyrics, ed. Pence, C. (Jackson, MS, University of Mississippi Press), 203–11
Rubridge, S. 1996. ‘Does authenticity matter? The case for and against authenticity in the performing arts’, in Analysing Performance, ed. Campbell, P. (Manchester, Manchester University Press), 219–33
Sahim, S. 2015. ‘The unbearable whiteness of indie’, Pitchfork, 23 March. http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/710-the-unbearable-whiteness-of-indie/ (accessed 10 November 2016)
Shumway, D.R. 2014. ‘Joni Mitchell: the singer-songwriter and the confessional persona’, in Rock Star: The Making of Musical Icons from Elvis to Springsteen (Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press), pp. 148–74
Shumway, D.R. 2016. ‘The emergence of the singer-songwriter’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-songwriter, ed. Williams, K. and Williams, J.A. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), 1120
Taruskin, R. 1988. ‘The pastness of the present and the presence of the past’, in Authenticity in Early Music, ed. Kenyon, N. (Oxford, Oxford University Press), pp. 137210
Till, R. 2016. ‘Singer-songwriter authenticity, the unconscious and emotions (feat. Adele's “Someone Like You”)’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-songwriter, ed. Williams, K. and Williams, J.A. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), pp. 291304
Thumim, N. 2012. Self Representation and Digital Culture (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan)
Trilling, L. 1972. Sincerity and Authenticity (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press)
Turner, D. 2016. ‘Is indie rock over the white male voice?’, MTV.com, 14 March. http://www.mtv.com/news/2793656/rip-indie-rock/ (accessed 15 October 2016)
Wald, E. 2015. Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties (New York, Dey Street)
Weber, P. 2014. ‘How indie artists came to dominate the music industry’. The Week, 2 January. http://theweek.com/article/index/254640/how-indie-artists-came-to-dominate-the-music-industry (accessed 8 July 2014)
Whiteley, S. 2000. Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity, and Subjectivity (New York, Routledge)
Fitzsimmons, W. 2009a. ‘William Fitzsimmons– “If You Would Come Back Home”’, YouTube video, 4:00, 9 March 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbr80q4Rq1o
Fitzsimmons, W. 2009b. ‘William Fitzsimmons – “After Afterall” from the Sparrow and the Crow’, YouTube video, 2:41, 13 April 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbQ7g18IGZs
Fitzsimmons, W. 2009c. ‘I Don't Feel it Anymore – William Fitzsimmons’, YouTube video, 3:48, 29 April 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5qcpflwF9w
Fitzsimmons, W. 2009d. Interview with FaceCulture (part II), YouTube video, 2:56, 30 November 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yyPcqtjswA
Fitzsimmons, W. 2011. Interview with Ongekend Talent, YouTube video, 11:50, 7 February 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T8rz5pCu9s
Fitzsimmons, W. 2012. Interview with FaceCulture, YouTube video, 2:55, 24 May 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yyPcqtjswA
Fitzsimmons, W. Goodnight. CD. William Fitzsimmons Music. 2006
Fitzsimmons, W. The Sparrow and the Crow. CD. Dark Sparrow Records. 2008
Fitzsimmons, W. Lions. CD. Nettwerk Productions. 2014

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed