Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Contemporary Great Gatsby

Kacey Musgraves is a country singer based in Nashville, but born in Golden, Texas and writes mainly about the small town Southern life that limits life possibilities and chances. Her song 'Merry Go Round' is from her album 'Same Trailer Different Park' and is one of many songs to criticise this lifestyle.

She describes the working class lifestyle (although it is lower than working class as none of them have jobs and all have children by the age of 21) and the way in which they all follow the tradition of going to Church every Sunday and having children, and it's not really what they want but are obliged to meet these traditional expectations. This song can be likened to 'The Great Gatsby' in that it is a social commentary that criticises the working class lifestyle, in a similar way that Nick criticises the upper class lifestyle of Gatsby, Daisy and Tom. Nick states in the first chapter, 'Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn', suggesting that he initially doesn't approve of Gatsby's extravagant lifestyle although he soon becomes accustomed to it. Nick does not come from a great deal of money but education instead, and at first, only sees Gatsby as a negative representation of the upper class and the effect that this lifestyle has on the characters soon becomes evident. By arriving at the conclusion in Chapter 9 that 'Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life' shows how the wealth, glamour and fast paced lifestyle of New York in the East only creates tension and pressure for the characters when compared to the more traditional and moral West, as it would have been less developed than the East at that time.

This reference to the importance of geography and the expectation that comes with a geographical location is reflected in Kacey Musgraves song. For example, 'If you ain't got two kids by 21 you're probably going to die alone', ' don't matter if you don't believe come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to' and 'tiny little boxes in a row ain't what you want it's what you know' all describe the traditional and oppressive lifestyle of the South and how similarly to New York in 'The Great Gatsby', the location plays a key part in what behaviour is expected. Musgraves calls the Southern way of life a 'broken merry go round' because it will not stop but will keep repeating itself with each generation and this could be linked to the Eastern way of life that was present during the 1920's (in Gatsby's lifetime) because when money, glamour and a pressurised lifestyle is concerned, tension and stress will always be put onto the people experiencing it.

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