Pop music, once considered as disposable as a snotty Kleenex, has for the last couple of decades been increasingly examined by scholars. There have always been people who have written about rock and pop in a serious way – Paul Williams, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh come to mind as some of the originals – but it’s taken a bit more time for such musings to infiltrate into the colleges and universities of the world past a course or two. I had the pleasure to take a couple of music classes at the University of Colorado from pop-folk pioneer/musicologist Dick Weissman. You can see him here playing banjo with the Journeymen. You may also note his bandmates as John Phillips, soon to form the Mamas and Papas, and Scott McKenzie, who would go to San Francisco to put some flowers in his hair:

Dick and I got along well – he was smart and crusty and funny and had good stories to tell, and I think he appreciated having someone like me there. At that time I was about 10 years older than his average student, knew my rock history, and didn’t stare cluelessly into the air most of the time. He had a wicked set of rolleyes that he delivered with regularity, that I recall.

Anyway, I was prodded into thinking about all this as I read the news today, oh boy, that if you are a lucky man (or woman) you can make the grade at Liverpool Hope University. This year, they are offering a Masters Degree in “The Beatles, Popular Music, and Society.” Yes, that is right – you can now obtain an M-Beatles-A. Of course, if I had a way to do this I so would, because I would enjoy it and be delighted to call myself a Master of Beatles and would do so at every opportune and inopportune moment. Here’s the degree description:

“A unique opportunity to study in the city of Liverpool, home of The Beatles and with access to leading Popular Music academics and Beatles specialists, this MA is the only one of its kind in the UK and the world.

This MA will examine the significance of the music of the Beatles in the construction of identities, audiences, ethnicities and industries, and localities; by doing so it will suggest ways to understand popular music as a social practice, focusing attention on issues such as the role of music in the construction of regional identities, concepts of authenticity, aesthetics, meaning, value, performance, and the use of popular music as a discursive evocation of place. Furthermore, in a consideration of popular music as a text, popular music semiotics will also be employed.

This MA will be of interest to those working in the fields of popular music studies, cultural studies, social anthropology, politics, gender studies, and musicology, among others. Such a course is an essential addition to the discipline of Popular Music Studies.”

What would I do with my M-Beatles-A? WHO CARES? It’s just awesome, absurd, and worthy all on its own. Maybe I could take my new-found stamp of academic approval and write up more college courses in the same vein. Hmmm. How about these?

The Rolling Stones: A Study in Gerontology

This course will peruse the life choices that the members of the Rolling Stones have taken in an attempt to deconstruct, identify, and quantify successes and incompatibilities in the process of aging. Modules will include “Fashion Models: A Renewable Resource,” “Preservative Aspects of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Heroin,” “Start Me Up: Ripping Off James Brown Moves For Muscle Vitality,” “Golden Years Portfolio and Estate Planning: Commercials, Ringtones, and Lawsuits,” and “Rock Stars Should Not Go Swimming.”

Cultural Implications of The Heavy Metal Mullet:

How did the mullet, a hairstyle that by its very short-yet-long construction belies indecision in a chaotic world of choices, become a classic symbol of rock music solidarity? Guest lecturer: Cletus Packerd from the CD Department, Wal-Mart, Hueytown, Alabama.

Rock Dances: An Artist’s Soul In Action

Students will view popular music performers to critically examine in this Movement Studies class. A major research paper and personal interpretive dance performance will conclude the course. Past student works have been “Feminism in the 1980s: Pat Benatar’s Shoulder Shimmy As Metaphor For Male Oppression,” “Axl Rose vs. Davy Jones: A Horizontal Slide Comparison,” “Too Cool To Move, Too Cool To Breathe: Joy Division’s Legacy, “ and “Rock’s Richest Booty Shakers, From Tina Turner to Shakira.”

Ah, if only I didn’t live thousands of miles away from Liverpool. Sigh.