How the Occult Saved Rock’n’Roll

An interesting theory put forth in a new book on rock and the occult. This is from Pitchfork.

As a boy, Peter Bebergal became fascinated with all things strange, terrific, and ineffablyother. That led to an obsession with horror magazines, monster model kits, scary movies, comic books, fantasy novels, and Dungeons & Dragons. Also: rock‘n’roll. Growing up in the 1970s, Bebergal bore witness to a blossoming of rock music that brought with it a peripheral-yet-unshakeable association with the occult, which dovetailed with his interest in the eerier fringes of pop culture. Many of those experience are recounted in his 2011 memoir, Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood, and he’s drawn out and expanded these themes in his excellent new book, Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll.

Rather than advocating occultism as a religion, Bebergal probes the overlap between the practice of magic and the playing of music with the cool eye of a scholar. He received his Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and he’s a contributor to The Quietus and BoingBoing, among others, which lends Season of the Witch an academic heft and gravitas. It’s also a flat-out blast to read, a rhapsody on the way myth continues to inform our lives in the 21st century. The book not only looks deeply into the esoteric tradition that flows from Robert Johnson, to David Bowie, to Jay-Z, it frames the sonic iconography of the fantastic and satanic in a way that resonates far beyond the songs themselves.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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