LJMU English’s Professor Gerry Smyth’s new book, entitled Celtic Tiger Blues: Music and Irish Identity, has been published by Rutledge. It is a collection of essays focusing on Ireland’s complex cultural relationship with music of various kinds. It includes material on the art and folk traditions, the work of James Joyce, popular groups such as the Pogues and the Waterboys, and the aesthetics of listening.
The book represents the latest stage in a life-long project for Gerry, focusing here on the ways in which music engages with particular aspects of Irish identity. The nature of popular music and the Irish identity it supposedly articulates have both undergone profound change in recent years: the first as a result of technological and wider industrial changes in the organisation and dissemination of music as seen, for example, with digital platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and iTunes. A second factor has been Ireland’s spectacular fall from economic grace after the demise of the “Celtic Tiger”, and the ensuing crisis of national identity. Smyth argues that if, as the stereotypical association would have it, the Irish have always been a musical race, then that association needs re-examination in the light of developments in relation to both cultural practice and political identity. This book contributes to that process through a series of related case studies that are both scholarly and accessible.
The book will be formally launched at events in Liverpool and Dublin after Christmas: look out for more details!