Performing Confession in Indie Music: William Fitzsimmons and 'The Sparrow and the Crow'

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Ariana Phillips, Faculty of Music
The Richard King Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 13:10 to 14:00

Confession is a word laden with connotations, whether of a religious rite, a salacious exposé, or even a crucial tool in the arsenal of every hard-bitten TV detective. It is not a word that has been frequently applied to music but I suggest that people use musical performance as a vehicle for confession and as a means of requesting forgiveness. Within this broad field of musical confession through performance, I focus on the work of indie singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons and on his album The Sparrow and the Crow (2008). I argue that Fitzsimmons’s performances can be profitably understood as ritualised performances of confession that successfully blur the borders between the public and private worlds or between the person and the artistic persona. The result is a confession that is directed at an individual and yet enmeshes the listener in the spectacle as a witness.

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