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'You Gotta Love This City': The Whitlams and inner Sydney

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Abstract:

This analysis of music in cultural geography, in the context of the inner Sydney-based band, The Whitlams, traces the creative links between sounds, 'scenes' and places. Based in Newtown, The Whitlams are associated with political values, evident in the band's name, and social values tied to and opposed to urban changes, such as gentrification, where community is threatened. The band's lyrics emanate from their experiences, challenging commercialisation of city life at different scales and reflecting the anomie of city living, but defending its virtues, whilst also fostering place stereotypes. The audience was similarly inner-city based until the band's recent commercial success, which has challenged The Whitlams' identity and radicalism, and resulted in mainstream appropriation. Though The Whitlams continue to reaffirm their local identity, and local audiences have remained, the popularity and commodification of their music has challenged concepts of shared meaning, the link between bands and their fans, and the connection between music and its place of origin. The Whitlams' music nevertheless remains a means of evoking and sharing a sense of place.

Keywords: APPROPRIATION; COMMODIFICATION; COMMUNITY; CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY; INNER SYDNEY; NEWTOWN; POPULAR MUSIC; SENSE OF PLACE; THE WHITLAMS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713612243

Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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