The View from Outside: The Band Sing America

  • Theodore Goossen
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


This chapter discusses The Band, an allegedly quintessentially American group, in fact, comprised of four Canadians and a Southerner. Goossen takes the personal perspective of having left the US for Canada on account of the Vietnam War, after having visited Japan and other Asian countries, including Vietnam, on a university exchange trip; he has since become a translator of Japanese literature. Goossen meditates on the relation between the familiar and exotic, including his own experience of Canadian music from both sides of the border, in relation to the parallel experience of the Canadians in The Band and their learning about the once familiar and exotic US, particularly the deep South. Though postcolonial theory has revealed the dark side of exoticizing the other, it also has a positive transcultural effect, Goossen argues: ‘that which was once distant and strange is gradually transformed into something intimate and familiar until, at a certain point, what was once exotic ceases to be exotic at all, but instead becomes part of one’s own identity’. Goossen concentrates on ‘King Harvest’ and ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ as tunes produced by The Band’s cross-border encounters, which ‘helped a generation of young Americans’ not only to see multiple sides of the labour movement and the South as other even within America, but also to ‘develop a heightened sense of affective (as opposed to merely cognitive) empathy’ across cultures.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Goossen
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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