Publication Details

Connell, J. & Gibson, C. (2014). Outback Elvis: Musical creativity in rural Australia. In B. Lashua, K. Spracklen & S. Wagg (Eds.), Sounds and the City: Popular Music, Place and Globalization (pp. 285-301). Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.


However cartographies of music are constructed, they invariably suggest some authentic relationship between particular sites of vernacular musical creativity and a social and economic context that has contributed to a certain distinctiveness. Thus, the literature is replete with accounts of supposedly distinctive Mersey and Otago sounds, New Orleans jazz or Nashville country, and the 'mutually generative relations of music and space' (Leyshon et al., 1995, p. 424). In the conventional narrative, styles are generally deemed to have originated from particular individual and collective scenes associated with key musicians and bands, and talked up as a means of promoting these styles and places. Local ties engender credibility as expressions of local identity and distinctiveness, and 'credible places invest music with commodity value' (Connell and Gibson, 2003, p. 116). However, music creation and reception are more often little to do with place, and yet music still gains some degree of success even in circumstances where it would seem to oppose any notion of a link to locality. A particularly extreme and unusual example of this is the association between Elvis Presley and the small Australian country town of Parkes. This chapter examines how that particular and peculiar relationship emerged, and how it has been sustained and nurtured. In the process, we challenge notions of creativity and its role in local development.



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