Teenage Nervous Breakdown
By David Walley
Routledge – 2006 – 256 pages
Teenage Nervous Breakdown: Music and Politics in the Post-Elvis Era combines music and cultural history and criticism to examine how rock and the rock lifestyle have been merchandised first to a teenage audience and eventually to a worldwide consumer society. Well-known, iconoclastic writer/ critic David Walley examines the entire rock culture and how it has infused all aspects of American (and world) life, from entertainment to politics to academic education. In a series of what he describes as "word-jazz rock and roll improvisations and variations," Walley examines how adult culture has been "adolescent-ized" and what the ramifications are on our society.
Walley is not an uninvolved observer-his personal story and opinions are right up front, where they belong. Famous for being the first writer to recognize the commercial genius of Frank Zappa (in the landmark book, No Commercial Potential, first published in 1972 and still in print today), Walley is ideally suited to examine how commercialism has invaded rock music, and in turn how this commercialism has invaded rock music, and in turn how this commercial stepchild of rock has become a culture unto itself. He tackles everything from the elevation of youth culture to the mainstream; the fast-food economy; the commercial hijack of the counterculture movement; the "cool" aesthetic; the marketing of politicians; psychotropic drugs from LSD to Prozac; and much, much more. Along the way, he touches on a diverse range of figures. From Ma Rainey to Elvis, from Béla Bartók to Batman; from Timothy Leary to Rush Limbaugh; from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to Understanding Media.
David Walley is a well-known writer on popular music and culture, and a respected gadfly. He is the author of No Commercial Potential: The Saga of Frank Zappa (1972) and The Ernie Kovacs Phile (1975).