Keith Harris

Keith M. Harris is a Visiting Associate Professor at Vassar College in the Department of Theatre and Film (2011-2012) and Associate Professor at the University of California at Riverside in the Departments of Media and Cultural Studies and English. His publications include Boys, Boyz, Bois: An Ethics of Masculinity in Popular Film, Television and Video (Routledge, 2006).



"'I don't care anymore': Deep Soul, Doris Duke, and the Allegory of Migration"

Soul music has been noted as combining elements of gospel and rhythm and blues, lyrically transforming them into a secular mode of testifying to life’s travails and sexual pleasures. Furthermore, soul music regional forms codify it as a genre that has migratory variants. This paper focuses on the southern variant, deep soul. Soul music has decried or celebrated the city in songs like “Living for the City” or “Dancing in the Streets.” However, the emphasis here is on songs like “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”—songs that lament migration from rural to urban as from bad to worse. Doris Duke’s “I don’t care anymore,” like Redding’s “Dock of the Bay,” begins, “I came to city from the deep south/when the mills shut down,” ending with the refrain, “Hotel room, west side, east side/Men knocking at my door/Hotel room, west side, east side/And I don’t care anymore”: more than the failed promise of the city, the song allegorizes migration and the promise of the city as loss leading to longing. With this and similarly themed songs, Duke’s I’m a Loser (1969), conceptualized, produced and written by Jerry Williams/Swamp Dogg, offers a vision of the city in the migratory movement of bad to worse, in which the city is neither the beginning nor the end of a destination, but a space of resignation.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

2:15pm EDT