Mudcat Café message #2954159 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #131081   Message #2954159
Posted By: GUEST,Big Ballad Singer
28-Jul-10 - 08:26 PM
Thread Name: Who's THE most over-rated 'legend'?
Subject: RE: Who's THE most over-rated 'legend'?
Anyone who read racism in what I wrote is just laying for a fight. I am nobody's bigot. I get marginalized enough to know that it hurts, no matter what characteristic of a person is being discriminated against. So let's please just drop all the racist insinuations. Now.

My point about Leadbelly is NOT that he was not talented. He was.
My point is NOT that he was unskilled. He was, as another poster said, the Wright Brothers' plane before the jets. Well said.

I simply meant that the "legend" thing is at least due as much to some people's need for "authenticity" and "the real McCoy" as it is due to his playing, singing, writing, arranging or whatever else.

Take a group like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They never picked cotton or were owned as slaves... does that make their excellent musicianship and carrying-on of their musical legacy any less "authentic"? What if they sucked as musicians? Would they still be welcomed as "authentic" whatever? No, not today, because there are multi-millionaires out there who can't play, but they can sell. The modern recording industry doesn't need "authentic", they need "marketable".

In the "folk boom" era, however, "authenticity" was going to sell a LOT more (to the earnest folkie crowd) than musical excellence alone.

Oh, and as far as a certain curly-headed demigod goes, I think he flat-out USED the folk boom and the earnest kind-heartedness of those who were trying to build up the Village scene to his advantage. Wrote some very memorable but TOTALLY derivative songs (the ones that weren't plain stolen) and made his millions being whatever the times wanted him to be. Earnest young Woody-ite, rebellious 60s iconoclast, 70s grizzled road vet and then Jesus Freak, 80s sit-on-my-ass-and-collect-royalties, and then into the 90s and beyond, taking on the "classic rock legend" costume and writing some decent roots-rock.

Legend? In terms of pop stardom and the ability to navigate nearly 40 years' worth of fickle radio and consumer attitudes, YES.

Legend as a writer, singer, or what have you? No.

Willie Nelson... Now, THERE'S a legend for you.