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Popular Music Holds Power Over Popular Literature

Literature and popular music are not worlds that usually intersect, at least not in most people’s minds. But Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature and Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize in music prove that these two forms not only intersect, but have been connected for decades.

Florence Dore is a singer and professor of American literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her new book “Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll” (Columbia University Press/2018) reveals that writers of the 1950s were more than inspired by popular music, they regularly borrowed from it.

Southern writer Flannery O’Connor’s popular short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is believed to be based on the Bessie Smith song of the same name. The Appalachian folk ballad “The Daemon Lover” has had a few iterations in literature including Donald Davidson adapted his book “The Big Ballad Jamboree” and half a century later was recorded by Bob Dylan.

Dore joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her new book. On Tuesday, June 26 at 6 p.m. Dore and her husband Will Rigby of the 1970s power pop group The dB’s will host a book launch party and rock show on the roof of the Durham Hotel that brings together their shared passions for popular music.

Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.