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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nobody's business but my own

I'm reading "Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music" by Yuval Taylor and Howard Barker. They blog about it here. It begins with the story of Mississippi John Hurt, which has held a strange fascination for me for years. John was a farm hand in Avalon, Mississippi who played a little at weekends. He made some recordings for the OKeh label in 1928 during the brief window when it was worth the company's while to market records to black people. They didn't sell and he forgot about it until 1963 when some record collectors appeared at his door and asked if he was "the" Mississippi John Hurt. This "rediscovery" resulted in him starring at the Newport Folk Festival and playing concerts and coffee houses for the last few years of his life. He died in 1966. Taylor and Barker use him as an example of someone who actually played a wide rage of music but found himself placed in the blues bracket because that's what suited the market. Their argument is that "authenticity" is just a construct. Anyway, it's wonderful music.
Mississippi John Hurt: Nobody's Dirty Business