Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Michael Ramirez's "Destined for Greatness"

Michael Ramirez is an associate professor of sociology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Destined for Greatness: Passions, Dreams, and Aspirations in a College Music Town, and reported the following:
Destined for Greatness investigates how men and women successfully pursue informal music careers in the iconic Athens, Georgia. It is largely a life course study that retrospectively examines musicians’ early experiences in life to explain how they commit to music in adulthood. Page 99 falls in Chapter 3 of the book, which examines the processes of adopting a musician identity.

What page 99 illustrates well is the challenge musicians face in committing to musical careers upon their entrance to adulthood. Music tends not to pay the bills, so musicians of course have “other jobs” outside of music. Page 99 is the ideal page to situate the types of jobs that allow or prevent flexibility with musical commitments. Some musicians are able to situate their work commitments into their musical pursuits with little tension. Other musicians, however, due to the context and time intensity of their jobs have difficulty balancing work with music. One outcome for these musicians is the consideration of downgrading their commitment to music for a more normative adulthood. In some ways, page 99 highlights one of the driving themes of the book as a whole: musicians must reconcile issues of adulthood, in this case employment, to successfully fit music into their adult lives.

The book can be read as a love story that musicians tell of their devotion to music. And like any good love story, it is one fraught with struggle, with questions of whether it is worth the sacrifice, yet ultimately framed as entirely worthwhile and as providing meaning in life.
Learn more about Destined for Greatness at the Rutgers University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue