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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Was Polish Rock of State Socialism Anti-socialist? Political Content in Polish Rock from the 1960s till the End of the 1980s

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Abstract: This chapter attempts to answer the question as to what values and political messages were conveyed by Polish rockers creating music during the period of state socialism. In order to do so, it examines the lyrics and mode of performance of certain Polish songs from the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s in relation to the changing political and cultural landscape. It begins in the 1960s as admittedly Polish rock was born during this period. The author considers songs by the most popular artists, such as Czesław Niemen, Breakout and Marek Grechuta, as by virtue of their popularity they best testify to the positions taken by Polish rock and the changing attitudes of Polish society, excluding those which, although popular, shy away from political content.

Keywords: Polish rock; state socialism; Czesław Niemen; Breakout; Budka Suflera; Marek Grechuta; Perfect; Republika; Maanam

In the literature concerning Polish pop-rock, as well as with other Eastern European countries, its relation to politics takes centre stage.1 Jennifer Lena argues that this is because popular genres, unlike in market-driven popular music scenes in democratic countries, were financially subsidized under state socialism either by the government or oppositional groups. She labels them as ‘government-purposed genres’ regardless of whether they ‘further particular government or partisan-group politicocultural objectives’,2 the latter of which articulate a ‘critique of the existing sociopolitical and economic order’.3

The focus in the history of Polish pop-rock is on those genres and artists who...

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