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Been Around For a Long, Long Year

A Review of  No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, by David Stowe, The University of North Carolina Press, 291 pages

by Garrett Baer

There is a certain (dead) art to the mixtape, difficult to theorize but easy enough to hear. It’s not quite captured in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, though the fuzzy explanation offered by Hornby’s Rob Fleming gets close:

A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mind”, but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and…oh, there are loads of rules.

Though David Stowe is a professor of English and religious studies and No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism was published by an academic press, don’t let the jacket—or Stowe’s ambitious claim to demonstrate that Christian pop music of the sixties and seventies was central in laying the very “groundwork for the reorientation of American society, politics, and religious culture”—fool you: No Sympathy is a mixtape, and it follows Hornby’s rules to a T. Continue Reading →