Focus; The Death of Rhythm and Blues
Bit from the introduction to his book because he says he's really talking about more than just music in this book. He says there is something missing in black America and symptoms of the illness are in its music. But I don't want this book to be just a eulogy. If one idea could be said to inspire the death of rhythm and blues it is you can tell where black people are at any given point in history by our music. He says I've heard black people say this countless times but my beef was that they never really thought about the state of blacks they were just spouting a nice piece of rhetoric he says. I took the rhetoric to heart thinking about the present and the future I went looking through the past and the death of rhythm and blues is what I found. This book is published by Pantheon Nelson George is also the author of two other books the Michael Jackson story and also Where Did Our Love Go which is a history of Motown. Mr. George how are you doing. Good things to start out both to make sure that
people understand what qualifies as R&B what kind of music we're talking about. We all know we probably ought to have a definition end too because as as you say as you start out telling your story that you're really you're not just talking about music. So what is R&B. Well it is in a technical way I would say that rhythm is forward to black pop music and that's it. It takes in a lot of different forms. I think that that takes into many great doo wop Rupes the 50s it describes a lot of the urban blues and then from Chicago people like Muddy Waters Hollowell food court of Chess Records could also be considered considered part of the Rhythm Blues Southern Soul music is epitomized by the like Otis Redding and later you know Wilson Pickett fetcher on through funk music which we sort of identify with people like James Brown slide players Kool The Gang disco
music from the 70s on through. Rap music up to people like Whitney Houston and Anita Baker. So rhythm and blues. Sort of been a phrase that has been used to characterize or to characterize I think if it were a large segment of it could not jazz black popular music the music that we dance to me that if we party too and I can see my day that covers an awful wide range of styles of music I mean that's that's an awful lot of territory. If you look at all of those various artists and then you think about it to connect it is just to think the connected one is a matter of continuity tradition. Each step along the way influenced by what came before. So it's very much evolutionary line. And two it's a man. But the mechanisms for promoting and
marketing the music have been pretty consistent. I deal a great at least in the book about black radio. In America about retail stores look at the black communities mom and pop record store the call and also deal extensively with black concert venue things like the Apollo Theater or the Regal which used to be in Chicago which they're trying to bring back in some form now so why out the route of the music has always been the same venue the new vehicle for exposing its music have also always been the same or have consistently been the same. The one I think I talk about in the book at least is the idea that a lot of these institutions which are helped to shape and promote this music are you dead or in serious decline and that and the changes going on. And how about music is the motive. It had a very profound and I think a very negative effect on the music itself.
What you do is you talk about you know as I said you make this point that the book is not just about music. What is that other thing that you're trying to get at I think. I think the music and the world of music is very much a reflection of the world of black struggle in America in general. For example I must take the contemporary state OK. The two dominant directions buying music are the crossover idea and rap music because the ideas very much represent music a parallel to the world of going on in politics we have black mayors. We have black congressmen we have black people running for governor. We have people like Jesse Jackson William Gray in Philadelphia a congressman who's very powerful in Congress. We were
having black figures become important figures not just for black America before all Americans in the same way that we have when used in Michael Jackson and people like that who are considered not even black stars anymore Dandiya but really considered just superstars. OK so we have that idea. I phenomena of many many black. But achieving at a high level of American society at the same time we have that music which is something that is very much a music of the black underclass if you knew used that term. It's the music of poor black urban blacks the black black youth the group which is probably the most discriminated against misunderstood and educated group in this country. And music is a reflection of all the good and bad about their life down. And so the music speaks very much to their concerns into their world. And if you compare the world of the Whitney Houston to the world of Run DMC
who Mobi any rapper there they don't seem to be parallel worlds. I mean the way they look the way these presence of the sound of the music suggests the different. Dynamics are very extreme dynamics whisper little with very little common ground seemingly. I think that's where the music comes in and you know in a contemporary sense that's what I'm talking about how music reflects the different conditions. And yeah you know I think some people might say there was there's two ways of looking at this you might say on the one hand that that black performers who have really made it in the white world or at least secured large parts of the white audience one might one might look at them say well these people have been co-opted that they've sold out that they have lost what really made them special. They have lost their roots and somebody else might say Well but you know look at look at those past performers black performers that maybe were true to themselves and their roots and where did it get them and you
know one might say well why begrudge Whitney used in her success. Well see my point is not if I think it's possible I think we can fight if I do in the book me an example of a black performers who have maintained are very much a black Creative Age and been very successful. And and I think that to me that's the model for the term musical model what I'd like to see someone like Sly Stone was incredibly creative incredibly black based on his. Local arrangements which is gospel written arrangements which are A B and func and yet he also with a great just pure pop song writer. He managed to take all of these different elements and fusing together. I think that someone like Prince is a very brilliant and has a very brilliant in doing the same thing and using everything that influenced him and his music but without making it into mush. I mean my biggest problem with American music in general and with black contemporary music in particular is a certain
sameness a certain lack of willingness to be aggressively on the edge or lack the means to be progressive and I think what's happening right now if it were any era minarets music where people tend to either try and take very safe road but make you very much the ballads are making dance record which sounds very much like the Latin for Q2 you heard it in sort of fade into like a big mix that could be anyone like interchangeable parts. I think it's a very very negative thing that's happening in American music and I think it's particularly devastating to black music because but you can see additional been in. An engine for innovation and American music I mean a rock music for example which is you know I think it's a very hotly debated topic but undeniably is a different sound and it's been going on in American music is one it's very innovative and they take chances they sample different sound they use different kind of rhythmic ideas they do with very different subject matter. And I think they've been a very exciting addition to
American music precisely because they've been outside of the family because they tried to push the barriers of what constitutes music and I think black music has always been anyone saw music first came to the fore. It was not it was definitely a departure even from what traditional rhythm and blues had been. It was much more overtly gospel and was much more. And many blacks had problems with it because it had such a gospel feel. So you know we could cite time and time again where. Brax of have had pushed open the doors and had tried to move things ahead. I think one of the factors and why we've reached some complacency is the idea that the way to success is a way of basically catering to the lowest common denominator. I think that's very I think it's very dangerous for us culturally unless someone is someone who had unease about who they are. So what eventually loses any and lose a lot of purpose and lose a lot
of the things that made us special. Yeah I wonder how much you think this is a result of what performers want and how much has to do with the business people that drive the business you know promoters and record producers and agents and all those kind of people who stand on the other side of the lights. It's a self-perpetuating circle cycle. I think artists come into it initially wanting to make music or wanting to be and also a lot of want to be stars a lot of them will say I don't care what it takes to do that. Others will say I want to do that if I have a certain thing I want to express what tended to happen to the people who tend to be more. Physically based who feel they just want to express their music tend to be the ones who will try and be a little bit more rebellious those who are just in it for the money will do anything and record anything for that reason. I mean back a good OK I'm not saying that in the book that the
directors are not about money it's a capitalistic system it's about taking something that we like giving it to us in a package to be can enjoy. My my beef is how it's done and the mentality is behind it. I think that we can do these things without without really big tendril without just making bland boring music. I think someone like Anita Baker to me the great heroine because she has managed to succeed with a wide audience of Americans by singing in music which is very much a synthesis of some of the best ov of gospel blues jazz when you hear Anita Baker you seem to hear all of that in her singing. I think it's very important. I think it's healthy. I think it shows people that you don't have to be a cookie cutter. You don't have to sound like the record you came before I think of black music that to to. Encouraging because I said before I feel within a certain Limerick quality to a lot of the music especially I would say in the last 15 years
and it's stifled a lot of creativity. We're talking this morning with Nelson George who has written a book entitled The death of rhythm and blues he writes about music for a Billboard magazine and I have a caller here who's been hanging on for a bit and would like to involve other people in the discussion you've got your own you folks listening of your own opinions or you have some questions for our guest. Just pick up your telephone and you can be a part of the show in Champaign-Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free in Illinois. 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5 here somebody on our toll free line. Well I know yes I am. I just have an A in opinion and big ideas and I would think that from my own observations I think it came out of you know like I caught you before if you have. I have a right. It was sad because people were sad right. But that's why people love that music because they were sad and if they did something to express than
do not expiate their sadness and I think that that is a pity. Here's what now I see that we don't have so much event that day you have blues singing anymore. And I don't think it's a kick. It can't make any sense. Well I would I would disagree with you that the black music made before we said I would say that. But people seem to say the Blues were sad because a lot of the themes of the subject matter of Blues were about hard times and some of it was said but I would disagree that most of it was fat I would say that blues is also a part of music who's often music people had a good time to have house parties too. Justin I would say that all of Count basi a Duke Ellington's music which was pre-civil rights you know ever musically said but I would agree with you that the ability of black music to appeal to everyone without having by being
true to the experience of the people who made it is something that very much I advocate and I think that the best music that we've made I think that the stuff that Aretha Franklin for example did which is some of the best music ever made I think this country sort of her singing was so imposing and so powerful because it captured situ wide range of experience that with joy sadness all of things I don't think I don't think singers today are even given a leeway in terms of how the material is selected or how to be to is reduced to to deliver that kind of emotional impact. You know I think the thing that you still can do that but you don't hear on the record very often. I would just just disagree about the idea that it was all sad but I would agree with you that by starting what they felt black artist managed to discredit everyone so do you. I wonder if you think that that white audience is listening to black music when listening
for the same reasons or they they were hearing the same things in the music. Well I mean that's an interesting question and it's hard to jump in to people that I think for example let's take a look at a book about Motown most interesting example I think of the certain buoyancy a certain sense of optimism that Motown and mid 60s heyday projected which mirrored a lot of the optimism that was going on in the country about social change about political change. It really believed that very well and I think that I think you know the sound of young America was a very shrewd choice of name because they were able to appeal to everyone with their music. So I think that and I case I think there was a certain community of spirit about what music's about. I don't I don't think that. That's necessarily the case let's say when people hear rap
music or people hear blues. I think that a lot of black people today for I think for a very silly reasons think the blues is a music of sadness or being an Uncle Tom for that matter are some kind of corny corny legacy to they don't want to they want to ignore it. I think it's terrible. But I think a lot of worldwide seem to have a much more diverse affection for it and these younger whites then a lot of the younger black counterparts. I think the trends in the style of music and attendant in particular historical context. Another good example is Reggae Reggae was really embraced by white Americans young white Americans at a time when black Americans paid little attention to it and had little interest in it and I think only now do I see the black American black Americans more interested in more understanding of reggae. So I mean I think that that question really depends on the circumstances surrounding the music and the time.
OK let's talk with somebody else here lie number one. Hello. I'm damned if I can look back at it because I think often like another attack happening. Do you think it's good. We really needed a civil right there and by that I mean black people including myself would struggle to close it right over Good Friday at the price he paid for integration. A couple of places where we are all but I don't believe we should have to pay that price but I think I think it sort of unavoidable if you for example move to gardening like a bullet. I keep it at the gun what university my contact with black culture here are very rare. All I have to make great efforts to go to the black community. Go back to the people to keep in touch with what's going on among black people. So what I'm saying is that and I think we should have a great start. But one of my or my own belief is that
before integration our culture was stronger with integration and with moving up into middle class upper class whites. By cooperation the price you pay is that. Sending me text because it didn't happen. Well that's one of the I mean you've really hit on one of the central thesis of the book back then. That's one of things I really talk about at length throughout the book and I must say my my own position on it is that we must try and I think what you're doing I mean the trips back home the the the outreach you have to do is really important. I mean give an example and I think this is an introduction to the book. I interviewed an executive at his office and we were talking basically about the music business in general. But we started talking about his you know his travels and the business and how he'd live very well his children live very well you went to the office he had big pictures of Davis and
Charlie Parker. He's very much a person who was a big fan of bebop and very much aware of the role of black music in American culture you know if a positive force. And yet he was very disheartened and disillusioned that his children. Did not share the same affection I did not even seem to have the same understanding and some of the reasons you cite. He worked in my corporations. He lived in suburban communities much as time his children were not reared or on the same kind of stimuli that he was. My own position is that you have to try and maintain that. I mean it's really I think it's it's it's not that we should say we're going to give up we should not even allowed to happen. It should be something that we fight constantly to try and keep aware of. I know for a fact that I for example I could have lived and moved a lot of different places I grew up in Brooklyn New York. And when I finally got my apartment and I had a chance to move to to Manhattan to the west side which is much more integrated environment or stay in Brooklyn in the area which was
predominately black though it had whites in it I decided to stay in Brooklyn because I felt that it was important to me as a as a person to still be around the kind of people I knew with a child and just to maintain that perspective. An option I don't know that everyone can take but I think that's my perspective and if what the book is about the idea of maintaining perspective I mean it's the strangest thing since the book came out I've run into a lot of people from a say a kind of Jewish backgrounds who have come up to me and and said that they saw some of the ideas of the diapers in the book of very similar things that they felt about their culture and I guess I'm just not a fan of the whole idea that American culture had to be a modernized. I don't think that's really good for us I think to that artificially smooth over differences which are important to what made this nation great. I grew to 100 percent but I think I just bring back in our striving friends and it's time to start acting on every continent.
Stick to the honey pot and rice I think but I think it's time to count it as an active time remember. But I think I'm saying I think you're saying it. I think that black American black American culture. I'm sorry you still are. Yeah I just put on hold because we're going to a little bit of feedback. She's still listening to is it. Ironically this is an interesting point and that black American culture is. Some people argue there is a dominant American culture and some ways and a sense that musically. Oh no no there's no other indigenous form of American music even a country music which is going to do very white style of music that has its roots really and Europe and a lot of a European musical styles that were brought over here by a lot of English settlers blues and jazz of purely American forms a lot of the language that we call American language I look at commercials all the time and I see the slang words which I used to hear in a black community a year or two years ago which is part of every day language. So
to say that what really happened was really sort of bothers me that so often. Black culture is recycled back to America through whites and often to English whites which is very interesting for the Rolling Stones all the way through George Michael I think that that's something that we need to be aware of I think that we need to try and fight that I don't think that we should accept the idea I just think it's baseless and I just don't accept the idea that I didn't have to be that way. Yeah. And the book is my argument that you don't have to be that way. Let me just get back I want to see the caller ID LIKE DO YOU HAVE A final thought or comment that you think I'm gonna bring back of that program. Thank you very much. OK well I have anger growing. This is focus five video telephone talk show My name is David engine We're talking with Nelson George about his recent book The Death of rhythm and blues. You were just making a point there in response to the caller and and I was thinking about how it at one point I had on my list of questions that I wanted to ask you about were how many white artists there were who really owe
their careers to R&B and I think as I read your book more and more realize that list would be so long it would take us forever and it all it would include so many artists that you'd almost rather ask the question How many white artists don't owe their careers to be lawyers. Maybe if you say Barbra Streisand how to do it do it out. Yeah you know it's a strange thing last this week in fact I went to Radio City Music Hall and I saw a Robert Palmer who you know who's you know a British singer who had a number of hit records and it just amazed me watching the set how much Third World not just R&B but you know African music and reggae music was part of it you know he had used and in fact how many he covered in across the show he did he did new interpretations of at least five songs which were like black audience kids to never really even crossed over to white. It just blew me did I did I was looking out of the theater and had a picture of Bryan Ferry and Steve Winwood will
come into play there. And both of those gentlemen particularly want one with the Bryan Ferry but very definitely if sort of a. I just saw his last video and that video is like a tribute to Josephine Baker which you know blew me away. And wood is very much a prime in his new record roll with it sounds like when you walk in you all starts here. So is this cultural interplay. Is extreme. I think one of things the fact that it's another part of the book we haven't discussed it and that detail is his idea of it not so much even the musical. Change it I think that's a natural thing to happen I think what bothers blacks in America and in the record industry is this idea that they give this music big co-create stuff and you lie about a lot are and yet the the opportunity for them to benefit from it financially is not is great. It's you think it's still true. Oh yes absolutely absolutely. I mean for example I'll give you an example.
Steve Winwood has wrong with it. I don't wanna listen to music you know anything about sixties music knows what that record is either shotgun or any number of Jr. Why just is I mean the range of it behind the organ. It sounds so much like shock going to ridiculous right. Yeah you like a guy Junior Walker today can't get a record deal and he still makes the same record. So what will you know what someone I know going to Sam or Sam and Dave can't get a wreck who was also recorded saying the same stuff I think the tone of their music their tone by regulars think of it to music is too old fashioned right and yet still willing to do virtually the same bracket because he's white handsome hip and got a lot of money behind and can put the same record out and going to number one. So I mean he's kind of a contradiction. In the culture are all right to just dump tons of them and I think it's very it's very frustrating to the black creative artist that did another example of the kind of problems we have
in this industry. They have white and black departments and record companies which basically Special Ops We specialize in marketing music to black audiences the two top quote unquote audiences right. What you'll find is that you find white people white executives working in the marketing and promotion of black music and well known as blacks were often integrated setting. Thank you very very rarely and this is you know throughout the entire recording if you very for a really fine blacks hired to work in the promotion and merchandising marketing of white meat of white artists even though the music these why artists may be doing is black based. So you find these kind of economic inequities. We should view any of the kind of things that motivated me to write the book because they're right on the face of it did I. Double standards which are not based on music but are based on color. Well I've got several people here who'd like to talk with us in fact my lines are all full so let's
go back to the phones here and talk with some of these folks who are listening. Next here we'll go to our line number two for next person. Hello hi. I was wondering if we could bring in the civil rights struggle going from the 60s. And it seems like I think the working class got together in the 60s and once started to rise up. But the black element decided to nationalize you know to have like their own nationalist movement. I don't know what they're like to instill pride in them. It seems like they kind of put it right there. Well there was a strong movement I mean it is something that is still going to be a battle goes on it is what is the right strategy for. Black advancement and a dark side II. I'm sort of a mix in my philosophy and if you decide the book is that I believe that there's
no way in the world that any group in America can succeed without coalescing with other groups. It just isn't possible this is a country of consent is a country of compromise and working together on the other hand I think what would happen is that in that day and that era was that the people who who also felt that blacks needed more self-sufficient more control of the Destiny made a very right. They thought the only way to do this was a totally break away from or white you know the whites who worked within the civil rights movement. I think that was in my my thing was too radical a break. I basically agree with the point that these guys are making right. But I think that it's unrealistic to think that blacks will advance of the DID REAL social movement can be made from a minority point of view totally you know saying you have to have unity was like minded people. I think that you know that's what that I mean I was it's an idea behind the Rainbow Coalition. I think you just see sort of a little
he polarize a lot of people unfortunately in a negative way I think what's going to have. You know it would be interesting you know out of all the political center that I think we're going to see a political equivalent of like Michael Jackson or Prince Jesse in some sense like that but I think we're even going to see someone do not moderate I don't know I mean if Tom Bradley was a little more charismatic he's pretty boring. Oh if so like how Washington you know had been able to grow into his position. The guy Rahm Gray who's in the in the Congress I think is a brilliant guy. He was I think he chaired the Budget Committee this year and I mean I think if the caucus were his nomination I would Dep. excuse me I think he would be well advised to try and get a guy William Gray and his cabinet. So I see that happening I see that happening so I think it is. You know a group someone who definitely is very much about trying to help black America at the same time. He understand this
but what do you when you help poor people you're helping all poor people and I think that's the kind of thinking that we need more of. Well let's talk with somebody else here order the toll free line. Hello. Morning Yes sir so I think their remarks I forget the name of the black artists who couldn't make it but selling his songs to others who are white and could that could be said about Kris Kristofferson Glen Campbell or a host of other people I think that's just a natural progression of being in the career just because you're black and good doesn't mean you got to be on top. The moment you get out of high school it doesn't mean that but you know who Glenn Campbell Kris Kristofferson are now don't you. Oh sure you do now. Well I mean they were good at it they got a clue but I got if you're referring to you know the one that you had mentioned before I don't but I did mention about brothers who fall of the lead someone was writing songs and wasn't getting out a record out. But there was a white artist that was you know I would say I was saying to the jury I used Junior while Junior Walker and and Sam Moore but there it's a different road what they were complaining about with the fact you guys are using
their style and did a sitting and if they cannot get any exposure they often true of anyone I mean that could be true of the Kennedys talking about the caucus timing that he can't get to be president because it's something. And as the clock is using that same style as you can hear it. Anything into a car going to be like Teddy Kennedy Jesus Christ I don't know I just meant that you can make anything you can turn anything into a black white issue that you know when you make a statement that you're amazed at how much the English language is the result of black America I think I mean I think that's so far off the mark. You don't think it's true. Well any linguist will tell you that 40 percent is French not at all 25 percent German. Source are not like Ellis and all the black words myself but you know you're you're you're make you're making a big leap here all of a second. OK every rider I don't recognize I get a lot of like I did not talk about that I would not talk about the roots of American language in the year of the Mayflower. I was talking about. Yes.
Yeah go ahead. I mean you know half of what you said right now is that it's French derivative and probably 30 40 percent has that German or angle and a derivative you know it reminds me of I think you're missing my point. But let me make just one illustration 1066 that I heard when I was in high school the Russians invented the color TV. OK. Everyone sort of snickered the Russians invented the color TV I mean this is the result of a society trying to make a name for itself. So they're going to say it has nothing to do with it we're going to take their thunder. But last night they found out that the Russians do have a claim to that they had one scientist who invented the theory of color TV but their technology wasn't there that people weren't supporting it the government supported nothing in the place. So yes you could say the genesis of that idea came but if we had to wait for the Russians to make good on the deal we'd still be waiting where he picked up the ball and off they went the same thing is true of a lot of things and black artists or white artists people cough and even somebody else picks up the ball because they've got a different talent. Nothing wrong about that
but you know people are discriminating because they're doing that they're just recognizing talent. This guy whoever away thing in the background getting paid for their work they should be happy you know that they're being recognized in their own way and expect everybody just because they have a good idea and they're black and because they're not on top that they're being terminated. And but Philly Well I never said. It's there. Well you apply that. Oh you implied that I made a particular point and you took it to a point you took it to a New York girl very. I think I might be right when the NSA press in your opinion. I mean if you want to hear John B. There is a suggestion there that selling out of Motown to white corporate America somehow was a racist act. You know I would not want to do is say I've heard that. Well I think you're misinterpreting that statement just to misinterpret what I said earlier I will go you know go ahead and respond to that what's you know how to say what you don't even know I mean I mean you had made the remark that develop the
idea that by all of these black radio stations going out to white America and the black producers of record and the mom and pop story that somehow that there's an implication that white America is taking this away and trying to control the black market in order just to make money. How is that not true am I misreading you. I would say that those multiplication I think of is actual documentation to that effect OK I don't know the documentation I have to write my book that I get so that money if you want QUESTION Good old got the money were black. Yes. We're going to go to JR Right out that the common phrase they sold out rather than the people hired. I mean if they did what I tell them now. But before you before you get to the point of selling you have to also look at the entire industry and what forces stand the sell what pressure is on them that make them not competitive and less able to compete in a marketplace where they going bankrupt.
Well these are the kind of things that I discuss in the book into a detail I'm not going to try and synthesize it. I'm just saying this to you. I was saying when you look at the structure of the cloning industry in America and how it evolved and I guess the last 25 years you see in general this is not just in black music. You see the idea of corporate cooperation has become a norm Adama to the point where we eating up all the small labels. What my my beef was that a two for one is that it cuts out the diversity of American music because it tends to these companies tend to want to make a little common denominator music and also because of the nature of the poor health economic health of black. It is very very painful and also it takes jobs away. When Black is a close up and brought out I'm going to turn right into main thrust. I'm going to jump in here as I just want to I want to remind people we've only got about 10 minutes left and we have got some other callers and I wanted to move on and I hope the last caller will forgive me if I do that also for people perhaps have
just tuned in. We're talking with Nelson George who is the author of a new book it's called The Death of rhythm and blues he writes about music for Billboard magazine and that's who we're talking about here black popular music. OK Erica can I say something. Oh yeah sure sure. Well it's very easy to try to set these things up as they are white people are evil and all black people are good that's not what the book is about that's not what I'm arguing about. In fact in the book I detail from some some things that I think of very bad blacks and blacks and then in general and in the name of making money. My point however is this. The economic the music playing music is one area where blacks have really been able to really accumulate substantial amounts of capital to make a real impact on the site have been allowed to you know even an era of segregation to to compete I think you know as one black executive I know quote he said that black music is to black America music is to
America black America as all of the Arabs in the sense that it's a resource it's a power base. And my argument is just that I think it's a hobby that has been neglected and I think that in fact it's being destroyed and I think I did during the book and about my my reaction to that feeling and the reaction of other people in the industry to that idea and a great many of the heroes of the book also are right from Jerry Wexler in Atlantic Records to many of the great original deejays that helped popularize rhythm and blues in the post-war period were white and were very much accepted by black America. So I think there's a lot of anesthetic economic argument in a way to a racial argument and I hate to see it trying to you know pre-trade in that way. Well let's talk with somebody else here too the line number one for another caller. Well I yeah not plagiarism has been happening with music ever. Since the beginning of time somebody hears a piece and say hey I like this one little park and then they think that
little part and just expanded you know I've been playing blues for about 20 years and you know I still do first fourth and fifth unit you know but I don't play Chicago blues. St. Louis Blues Not since I'm from Champaign Illinois and I play corn blues you know and Abba plagiarism has been happening and you know people borrow from everybody you know and if it's exact I think they should you know an exact rip off that court. But then it's often hard to prove you know. You know back then. You know I still use my first fourth and fifth the bad but that doesn't mean I don't go back and find you know a little longer tune and say hey you know I'm going to just redo this and add some different words to it you know I you know I don't know who influenced me or anything I just know I like it and I played OK. OK all right well thanks for the calm India. Let's go on here to somebody else lie number three our next person Hello. There are a good mark. Yeah hi. All right. Twenty years ago I was involved in a
radio campaign or banner. We played a lot of balloons and chairs and even promoted a concert at Hound Dog Taylor and house rockers come down from Chicago. I would say back then there were many stations over the nation that were on to didn't play off of. I'm playing list sort of freeform music on FM in particular. You just don't find that anymore it seems that FM has become what I am used to be exactly. But I would of course want to ask Nelson was what effect does he think MTV has had on blacks. I mean do blacks watch MTV. Well you know it's funny. They do like the ones who have it you know because MTV is really not readily available in a lot of you know tables available out in a city where the bulk of black America is the big cities and a lot of don't see it on a regular basis. It's funny the only real
discussion of video that I have and there's one did that it's sort of interesting and this is something that came came to my attention not from black women mostly which is interesting. They seem to feel that in the videos that are made today there's if assists on the part of the artist and. Record companies to try and get on MTV OK. And so what they feel happens often is that the DCM elicits a milf and the female lead in the video tends to be quote unquote light skinned or quote unquote often white and it was something I wasn't totally aware of until it was pointed out to me and then I began to look at the videos I got in office and I had a very definite point that there was a definite bias toward at the very least a certain style of woman one that was not dark skinned for one thing it is that you know I wanted tended not to have quote unquote you know black features unquote It just you know
that's the only thing about videos of my videos you know in terms of black media because it's not just Beatty and into some other outlets to play videos by black artists but the thing is that because most of the black communities in America are not wired for cable as of yet the vibe of the impact of the music video on black music has been not as intense as it has been on the say rock n roll heavy metal and when it does that doesn't get your question. Well I don't have a death I mean could MTV really have had a big impact on black art doesn't it didn't play very many of them because they don't play very many of them. They do sort of you know it might have affected it. The fact that it's upload so is not seen by a wide audience. But I don't have it I don't think it's really had an impact on sales of what we do know that we all know because it's not big it's not Black mean it's not really a deep part of the mix yet. So how to say what impact it had or not having. OK OK let's go in here. Another caller here line number two the next person Hello.
I want to comment on the earlier callers linguistic statements as a linguist. Black America has had a profound influence upon American English is well documented. I would point out the book by Dillard and such constructions as that you will construct you know definitely West Africa and the stance that they have had a little influence it's just really peculiar. Thank you. OK thank you. Good thank you for the comment. Again we'll go on to another caller here back to our toll free line. Hello hello. Yes I just have a short statement. I wonder if your collar knew that test and I read it recently that in some time in the past the society crowd from New York went up to Harlem to hear their music there. That's all I have to say and I think that's probably pretty we're pretty well known there were you know. Well the Cotton Club Scene and other sorts of ball you know in fact it is still out there even today there are
parallels to that because of integration now. You know it's not a black Audi it's a much more welcome downtown area they want but I mean what you see now is that you go to a very hip club like which is equivalent I think that that society crowd a place called now which is a big hip club in Manhattan right and you're going to end up it'll be mostly rich very rich white kids. A lot of them you know kids college kids Europeans and they'll be listening to rap. Is it flood like you know wall to wall rock music. You know for hours on end and I think in some way that's in the Christmas so there's always that good at that idea of it. White have always been attracted to black music and some level of care that was different from what they heard or sort of rebellious and what they you know were exposed to and their homes. It's always been and I guess it will be there for a lot longer too. We're almost at the point where we're going to have to finish and I'm sorry I got one caller here that really we're not going to be able to
take just as a way of wrapping up. Do you you feel like you say in the book you feel like that there has been something in black music and perhaps in black culture too that has been lost and that you're afraid that it you know that you're never going to be able to get it back. Do you do you really think it's that. It's that bad. Well I think that there's I'm actually more positive now that maybe things can be I don't revise I just want my balance I think that it's going to be hard. It's never going to be 1965 again or 1971 which I think was a great great years for black American music. I do think however we see there's many example I mean I thought Anita Baker because she's a very obvious example and she's so people like her are sign her. Success in fact has had a great impact on on other companies to sign artists too who have a similar style. I think also that what do you think going to be interesting to see because
what has become so big and he's got a lot of criticism from black Americans about. Not her success but the way some have musical choices I think. I think we think that she's a great singer. But I also think that the media complain about her music they feel is a little too bland and it doesn't have a kind of fire that she's capable of. And I'm hoping that on her third album that if she's so successful that she will be more willing to be a little more adventurous to take some more chances in to music and to expose for the platform she has now exposed America to another style of singing I mean I think you know what do you think could be a reason frankly she wanted to. And I'd love to see her do more material in that style I'm going to think she would succeed with that as well. Well it's been good talking with you I'm spending the time with us. Thank you for having Riddick. Call it a religious thing I really had a good time. OK that's great thanks. To tell you just once more you folks who are listening if you were interested in reading some more on this topic. Look for the book The Death of rhythm and blues
- The Death of Rhythm and Blues
- Producing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media
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- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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- With Nelson George (Author)
- Talk Show
- MUSIC; Race/Ethnicity; race-ethnicity; MUSIC; african-american
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Guest: George, Nelson
Host: Inge, David
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: focus880804b.mp3 (Illinois Public Media)
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
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- Chicago: “Focus; The Death of Rhythm and Blues,” 1988-08-04, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 10, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-7d2q52fn14.
- MLA: “Focus; The Death of Rhythm and Blues.” 1988-08-04. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 10, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-7d2q52fn14>.
- APA: Focus; The Death of Rhythm and Blues. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-7d2q52fn14