On 8 October 2010, Alison gave a paper in the School of Humanities seminar series at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus. Here's the abstract:
Remembering Popular Music, Documentary-style: Tony Palmer's history in All You Need is Love
Alison Huber, Griffith University
Over the last forty years, there has been a steady stream of television documentaries that have attempted to narrate a history of Anglo-American popular music for a wide audience. This paper represents an attempt to come to terms with the particularity of the popular music documentary form, and the different ways in which these documentaries present themselves as authoritative public texts that circulate understandings about popular music’s past. My work here is inspired by the landmark 1975 installment in this tradition: Tony Palmer’s epic 17-part narrative, All You Need is Love. While this series makes strong historical claims—in Palmer’s words, it sets out to tell ‘nothing less than the entire history and development of popular music’—I argue that the series is, in fact, based on the tropes and discourses of memory. Through an analysis of some of the particular formal and aesthetic characteristics of the series, this paper reveals that the ways in which talking and thinking about the past of popular music and its culture necessarily call upon an experience of the senses that is simultaneously replayed and refracted as memory.