LYRICS AND THE LAW: THE CONSTITUTION OF LAW IN MUSIC
Aaron R.S. Lorenz
There are few concepts in society that all of us share but music is one of those concepts. In certain situations, music is used as an accompaniment, oftentimes simply a set of sounds designed to subconsciously affect the listener. While in other situations, music is the central point, dominating the dialogue yet continuing to subconsciously affect the listener. Law, on a similar note, is a concept that is inescapable. Legal scholars have noted for centuries that society in the United States evolved, and continues to evolve, toward a population dependent on law. Both music and law remain fundamental components of modern American life and there are no signs that our connection and reliance on music and law will change in the future.
This book addresses the role music plays in constituting law in the United States. The subject of the book is important in order to show that while the Supreme Court writes decisions and legislators create and modify statutes, music is more invasive and influential in the lives of the populous.
The book's first purpose is to introduce readers to the classic jurisprudential schools of thought and connect those philosophies to the lyrics of various songs. There is clear evidence that Natural Law and Legal Positivism have been instrumental in establishing a legal structure and philosophy of law. The remnants of those jurisprudential schools can be directly seen in the lyrics of the last 50 years. The book notes that greater attention should be paid to the music since it is in actuality, non-traditional jurisprudence. After classic jurisprudence is presented, the book undertakes Constitutive Theory and connects lyrics to this critical approach of law.
The book's second objective is to systematically explain the role that music plays in constituting images of Race, Gender, and Class. Legal scholars have argued that music and law are often loosely connected but this book asserts that music creates law and images of law through specific lenses. Critical Race Theory, Feminist Legal Theory, and underclass literature are the best examples of how music has explicitly infected legal circles.
The book highlights the impact that musicians have in constituting law through their lyrics. When musicians remind the listener of the injustices in society, call for social change, or give their interpretation of legal theory, an image of law is constituted and that image often becomes the Law. When musicians create music, they are simultaneously creating law. Their experiences, language, and motives encompass their being and develop an image of law, which the listener subsequently adopts. Their lyrics constitute what law is for "the people" which is often a direct response to the State's version of what law is or should be. Music is similar to or a reaction to law.
Aaron R.S. Lorenz is an Assistant Professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. He teaches courses on law and society, the death penalty, privacy, race, civil liberties, criminal law, and of course, music and law. He is the author of various publications on issues concerning law and culture. Before teaching at Ramapo College, Professor Lorenz taught Political Science at San Diego State University and Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Professor Lorenz holds a M.A. in Political Science (San Diego State University) where he researched resource mobilization theory and its connection to reggae music in Jamaica during the 1970s and a Ph.D. in Political Science (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) where he researched the constitutive nature of music in law. Professor Lorenz lives in Mahwah, NJ with his wife, Jessica and son, Truman.