They believe that in-authenticity is the defining nature of popular music and that notions of authenticity have been manufactured and marketed, as a matter of fact they argue that the more performers try to "keep it real" the more artificial they become. Everything from black-and-white minstrel shows, the "primitive" blues of the South, and The Monkees, to Neil Young's Tonight's The Night as their most "honest" record and Kurt Cobain's suicide note denouncing his own "fakery" are all grist for their mill.
Another case was Mississippi John Hurt who was in fact was not from the Mississippi delta, his name was amended by his record company for marketing purposes. Originally he played a mixture of Tin Pan Alley tunes and ragtime guitar with a white fiddle player but that was seen as problematic, the reverse of the situation where Jimmie Rodgers who was a white blues player was told to play folk and country because it was more saleable for a white man. For Southern whites, meanwhile, "authenticity" consisted of fiddle tunes, Appalachian ballads and square-dance songs. And so, after one recording session, John Hurt went back to his house in Avalon, Missouri. He stayed there until 1963, when two young white men found him and hauled him off to help lead the blues revival. That he didn't think of himself as a bluesman seemed not to matter.
The authors argue persuasively that the authenticity commonly ascribed to these forms of so-called roots music is, as often as not, artificial in that the distinctions drawn between these musical categories distort both the experience of the musicians who played the music and the history of the songs assigned to one category or another. They argue that considerations of authenticity distort the music and constrain the musicians in the world music genre (Ry Cooder, Paul Simon and the Buena Vista Social Club) and how authenticity plays out in genres that embrace artifice such as bubblegum pop (The Monkees), dance/electronica (Kraftwerk) and early rock (Elvis Presley).
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