Quoted: The Blurred Lines of Blue-Eyed Soul

Is Robin Thicke the next great soul singer or a pretender to the throne? Michael A. Gonzales holds forth:

WPB-Radio disc jockey and soul music aficionado Jammer Daniels explains, “Historically, when you look at early pop history and see how much Elvis Presley stole from Little Richard or Pat Boone from Chuck Berry, of course people are suspect whenever White artists start tinkering with ‘our’ music. Whether it’s Eminem in with rap or David Sanborn in jazz, it is easy see why Black people sometimes don’t want to share our culture. Because we’re afraid people might steal it.”

While the less said about corny Pat Boone the better, the myth that Elvis Presl

19-rosen-robin-thickeey stole the soul from Black musicians has been publicized by critics and other recording artists (Public Enemy, Living Colour) for decades. But did he really? Does it maybe make more sense that Elvis, himself a Memphis boy attuned to ways of country culture, was simply inspired by the same gutbucket blues and screeching gospel as his Black contemporaries?

According to New York Times writer Mel Watkins, who penned the late Black cultural critic Albert Murray’s obituary this week in the New York Times, Murray was adamant that “the currents of the Black experience—expressed in language and music and rooted in slavery—run through American culture, blending with European and American Indian traditions and helping to give the nation’s culture its very shape and sound.” Read more…

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  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Exactly! And the beat of “Blurred Lines” was stolen straight from that
    Marvin Gaye tune (I grew up hearing it, so I can tell.) Both Pharrell
    and Robin Thicke need to just ‘fess up and pay the hell up.

  • Suzanne Lander

    It seems to me that the problem is less that White artists steal from Black artists and more that when White artists are inspired by Black artists it’s the Whites who get the publicity and the attention.