“White blues fans, for example, redefined the genre in the name of authenticity to exclude anything too jazzy or upbeat, thus enforcing a snobbish and racist exclusion of certain blues artists from the canon because they were too sophisticated. Instead, they lauded the most primitive blues artists they could find, such as John Lee Hooker, from whom blacks turned away. In this way, the quest for authenticity did tremendous damage to the blues by codifying certain traditions and limiting innovation.”
That’s from Faking it: The quest for authenticity in popular music by Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor, of which I recently reviewed a review. Comments on that post (by Thalia May in particular) led me to order the book, and I received it today. (Off-topic: why is it cheaper and faster to order from Amazon than from an Indian site? The price difference is more than the cost of international shipping, and the two Indian sites I looked at said it will take a month to deliver.)
I’ll probably read the book during a vacation later this month, and review it after that. As of now, I’ve looked through the one-and-a-half blues-related chapters, and it’s fascinating. There’s also a provocative (and thought-provoking) comparison of Neil Young with Billy Joel, and I’m happy to report that they favour Neil, both in authenticity and in artistic merit.