|By john dixon (184.108.40.206) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 09:37 am:|
I remember awhile back on the forum a few people expressed their exasperation at some people, usually those too young to remember the music firsthand, who will call just about any soul record from the 60's "Motown", regardless of its origin.
Well, last week there was an article in my local paper about an upcoming appearance by the singer Taj Mahal in which the writer referred to "the old Motown song, "Stagger Lee"". I had to replace my eyeballs in their sockets and my head did a 360 like that chick in "The Exorcist". I wrote the guy who penned the article and the gist of his response was that I was making too big a deal out of something not that many people would notice. I had told him that it was journalistically lazy to categorize any soul song of the 60's as "Motown". But, wouldn't you say that calling a song like, say, Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me" Motown an honest mistake but "Stagger Lee" just so far off styllistically that he needed being called on it? I can't recall any violent deaths in a Motown song, except Dennis Edwards remembering the day his daddy died in Norman Whitfield's "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and that's not the same as a bullet going through Billy and breaking the bartender's glass.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I think he's wrong; that people like us who grew up with and love the music would definately know the difference between "Stagger Lee" and any Motown song. I need some back-up here because the writer tried to make me feel some obsessive/compulsive old fart with too much free time on my hands.(why that young whippersnapper! I'll go down to the paper and thrash him with my walker!)
|By Sue (220.127.116.11) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 09:47 am:|
That's outrageous. What paper was it? Sometimes a few more emails to the reporter can help, especially if they're from, um, MOTOWN.
|By LTLFTC (18.104.22.168) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 10:07 am:|
WOW ! Of all the songs I've seen lazy journalists refer to as "Motown" , that's got to be about the farthest out (well, there's that old Motown classic "Two Old Maids" by Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts). I personally can't even see someone who considers themselves a music journalist referring to "Rescue Me" , or something along those lines as "Motown" , honest mistake or not. I hope you included the last sentence of your 2nd paragraph in the letter to the writer - thats a hoot.
ps was this actually the paper's 'Music" writer, or was this just a "Whats On" community calender type blurb?
|By Vonnie (22.214.171.124) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 10:45 am:|
Give us the information for this writer, he/she needs to be educated. A journalist should not be allowed to disseminate incorrect information.
|By Carl Dixon London (126.96.36.199) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 10:59 am:|
John - I bet he will be grateful for your email in the long run though, no matter how young he is. He will always remember it and if lucky, check a little deeper for future reference. We must consider ourselves privileged to know the difference and be able to comment positively to others not so familiar, in pursuit of educating them.
|By Fred (188.8.131.52) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 11:10 am:|
The use of "Motown" as a term to cover all black music is, if nothing else, a simple litmus test. If you see or hear someone use it, the odds are very good that the user really has no grasp of the subject. Not having access to the article, it is my bet that the writer believes "Stagger Lee" started with Lloyd Price in 1958, if even that far back. Now, of course, if he was making a reference to Don Revel & The Primettes' "Return of Stagger Lee," we may be dealing with a scholar of a completely different type.
If we really want to educate him, a collection should be taken to buy and send him a copy of Cecil Brown's "Stagolee Shot Billy," an extraordinarily well researched and well written exploration of the place of the song in American culture.
John made an interesting observation about the complete lack of physical violence in Motown songs, a characteristic that set Motown apart from most black-originated American musical forms (maybe we should also send the writer a copy of "Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition" by Adam Gussow), but which places Motown where it rightfully belongs in the greater pop mainstream.
|By Ralph (184.108.40.206) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 11:14 am:|
Thanks Fred. Great post on this subject.
|By KevGo (220.127.116.11) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 11:22 am:|
Please write to the reporter's editor in chief and re-educate this guy. I hate to say this but this isn't the first time I've seen such a mistake.
Case in point - journalist Stanley Crouch, who writes commentary for the New York Daily News (among other newspapers)wrote an article regarding the film "Only The Strong Survive". In this column, he referred to the Supremes' Mary Wilson as Mary Wells! Now, being that Stanley is not a great admirer of many genres of music that doesn't resemble traditional jazz - he is one of Wynton Marsalis' cronies at Jazz At Linclon Center (he's also been known to show his snubbery of modern pop music and hip-hop in prior columns). However, this wasn't something that yours truly could read without responding with a correction, which I did.
Kevin Goins - KevGo
|By john dixon (18.104.22.168) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 11:26 am:|
The Charleston, SC newspaper is the Post and Courier. The writer's name is Mark Pantsari and the e-mail address he left at the bottom of his article was firstname.lastname@example.org. I also spoke with the paper's entertainment editor, Bates Hagood, who had this response--"So you're saying that you think Stagger Lee is NOT a Motown song, huh?"
Sue, I would love to see the expression on this guy's face if he got an e-mail from you.
SteveK, I agree totally. Stagger Lee is practically anti-Motown it's so far off.
Vonnie and Carl, thanks for your support!
|By john dixon (22.214.171.124) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 11:31 am:|
Thanks for the thoughtful posts Fred and Kevgo!
|By STUBASS (126.96.36.199) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:05 pm:|
MY TAKE!!!...UNFORTUNATLY...TO THE UNITIATED..."MOTOWN" HAS BECOME A GENERIC FOR WHAT WE KNOW AS "SOUL MUSIC" OF THE 60'S ERA!!!...I THINK THE REAL INSULT HERE IS NOT TO MOTOWN...BUT TO STAX...THE CHI-TOWN AND PHILLY RECORDINGS OF THAT ERA!!!...ON THE OTHER HAND...TO SOMEONE WHO LACKS MUCH FAMILIARITY WITH 60'S R&B AND SOUL MUSIC..."MOTOWN" HAS BECOME TO MUSIC...WHAT "NIKE" HAS BECOME TO SNEAKERS...OR "CRISCO" BECAME TO COOKING GREASE!!!...IF I WERE BERRY GORDY...I WOULD TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN THE FACT THAT AN ENTIRE GENRE OF MUSIC HAS BECOME ASSOCIATED BY CERTAIN SEGMENTS OF SOCIETY WITH WHAT I HAD CREATED...ALTHOUGH FOR THE SAKE OF HISTORICAL ACCURACY...MOTOWN...BEYOND THE GENERIC...SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED FOR WHAT IT WAS...AND THAT WAS THOSE ARTISTS...MUSICIANS...AND WRITERS THAT ACTUALLY RECIEVED THEIR PAYCHECKS FROM MOTOWN RECORDS INCORPORATED!!!...STUBASS
|By Tony Russi (188.8.131.52) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:09 pm:|
We can not let History be rewritten...Thank you John.The entertainment editor sounds like he is just as ignorant about the subject of entertainment.This type of crap boils my blood.Our local Clear Channel oldies station makes horrible mistakes all the time when talking about the artist that they are making a living off of & when we call & correct their total mistake they ofcourse act like its no big deal...they recently wished Little Eva a Happy Birthday after playing "Locomotion" and after being told of her recent death they never came back on and mentioned anything more.
|By John II (184.108.40.206) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:13 pm:|
So many editors and reporters at newspapers don't know what they're doing, no matter what they're covering. I know, because I've worked at newspapers in three states. I've also read countless dumb in copy from papers throughout the country. Ironically, these people are naturally cocky. They think they know it all. No wonder newspapers are dying.
I'll never forget sitting in a coffee shop in Richmond, Va., and seeing the "music writer" for the local paper come in while Hank Williams Sr. was playing on the shop sound system. The song was something obvious, like "Your Cheatin' Heart" or "Jambalaya." So, the music writer asks the coffee shop help, "Who's that?"
She has since become an editor. Her replacement has written glowing reviews of Ricky Martin and the like.
|By LTLFTC (220.127.116.11) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:23 pm:|
I had a similar incident happen a couple years ago. Someone on an oldies station wished Mary Wells a ' happy 57th ' or whatever it was , birthday. I was on the road and actually found a pay phone and called the station. They couldn't have possibly cared less. I listened for another hour or so and never heard any correction.
|By Tony Russi (18.104.22.168) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:38 pm:|
Thank you Steve K, we still have to correct these "professionals".This oldies station here in Orlando will play "Then He Kissed Me" or "Da Doo Ron Ron" by the Crystals and on their "Cool College of Rock N Roll Knowledge" in the morning will say "yea, thats Darlene Love & the Crystals"me & my friends just cringe...Darlene Love does not sound like Lala Brooks.I told them to quit talking about the singers we love if they don't know the facts...just talk about those garage bands.
|By john dixon (22.214.171.124) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:51 pm:|
Steve and Tony, as John II said, with some so-called entertainment writers and radio announcers there's an arrogance and an unwillingness to redress the facts if losing face is in any way involved and that really gripes me. Those announcers had their noses so far up their own respective butts that there was no way they were going to admit making a..(gasp)..mistake. Their cockiness prevents them from realizing that to people who actually know their music, they sound like an idiot. Most self-perceived know-it-alls are quite myopic in that regard.
|By KevGo (126.96.36.199) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:59 pm:|
That's probably why the New York Daily News didn't print my letter correcting Stanley Crouch - they don't want the poor baby to look bad in the press.
Kevin Goins - KevGo
|By Charmedes (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 10:09 am:|
In all fairness, the flip side to this discussion is that since the Milli Vanilli scandal it has come to light that groups who called themselves Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Crystals, Jaynettes, Vandellas etc. on record seem often not to have been entirely who the public expected them to be. The multi-talented Darlene Love seems to appear almost everywhere, most recently as an unexpected guest on the 70's Supremes Anthology. Who's who indeed...
|By Jim G (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 10:42 am:|
I too am surprised by this "journalist".
"Stack O' Lee" is a real piece of Americana, first recorded versions are from the 1920s.
I believe the story behind the song originated in New Orleans. Goldmine ran a feature about the song about twenty years ago; it was really interesting.
I hope is isn't employed as the paper's music writer.
|By Tony Russi (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 11:46 am:|
Charmedes, we knew about the Crystals problems with Phil Spector 20 years before Milli Vanilli.Darlene Love does not sound like Lala Brooks.Millie Vanilli could not & can not sing...the artist you mentioned COULD & CAN.
|By Charmedes (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 12:23 pm:|
Tony, you have no argument with me over the fact that the groups were made up of wonderful singers. I used the term "on record." It seems strange that frequent subsitutions were apparently used when the fact is, the individual members were so talented.
Darlene Love's autobiography "My name is love" makes for a very interesting read. In fact, the promo on her website opens with the phrase, to the effect, "Hers was the voice that helped launch a hundred hits; the no. 1 'He's a rebel, (Today I met) the boy I'm gonna marry' etc.
I don't have any official documentation on this, but it does seem that since the Vanilli scandal that recording companies have become more upfront with listing actual vocalists on recordings.
|By Tony Russi (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 01:31 pm:|
I know what you mean Charmedes...my point was that if a radio show is called the "Cool College of Rock N Roll Knowledge" they should not make such a totally incorrect statement. If they were playing "He's A Rebel" or "He's Sure The Boy I Love" that would be alright, because that was Darlene Love & the Blossoms with the Crystals name on the record.
|By Soulaholic (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 - 07:11 pm:|
What do you expect, when the "New York Times" mentality has been accepted and fully incorporated into the mind set of many individuals today.
Just as long as it sounds good, who cares if it is factual, real or truthful.
It is easy to see why music has taken the turn it has with this being the norm.
I believe we should take this young man to task and show him what us old folks can really do when they mess with our music!!!!!!!
|By BankHouseDave (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 10:13 am:|
We've got 'em over here too. BBC jock, Tony Blackburn is often credited with a part in popularising Motown in the UK in the '60s. When asked recently - when he should be 40 years wiser - for his favourite Motown album, he cited Spector's Christmas record!
|By TonyRussi (184.108.40.206) on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 11:29 am:|
Hey BankHouseDave, that is ridiculous...maybe the BBC required he say that, which would make more sense with their credibility problems. Tony Blackburn knows better....isn't he the guy who really helped make "River Deep, Mountain High" such a big hit over there?
|By Sue (220.127.116.11) on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 11:38 am:|
Credibility problems? The BBC?
And let me put in a defense of the New York Times. If only every local daily and weekly had that kind of consistent quality and yes, commitment of dollars to the product. It's a very good paper.
|By R&B (18.104.22.168) on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 12:35 pm:|
SOMEONE ONCE WROTE THAT NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW HOW IGNORANT YOU ARE UNTIL YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH OR[I MIGHT ADD]UNTIL YOU WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF,FOR EXAMPLE SOME CLOWN WROTE SOMETHING ONCE ABOUT THE HITS OF DIANA ROSS FORMER LEAD SINGER OF THE TEMPTATIONS[I MEAN IF YOU'RE GONNA GET THE GROUP NAME WRONG AT LEAST IDENTIFY THE LADY WITH A GIRL GROUP]GOOD GRIEF CHARLEY BROWN!!!
|By Des (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 - 05:59 pm:|
I will always give TB the benefit of the doubt(music-wise) 'cause he has made it clear over the years that his first love is soul/dance music.
Even at the height of his "naffness" (hope my U.S. cousins understand this term.....means bad taste/low credibility) and his major national success on the early 70's BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show,I'll always remember him having a record of the week that he managed to sneak through some of his own personal faves eg : Daydreaming - Aretha.
In the 80's he had a fine mid-morning show on BBC Greater London Radio that was pretty much his (and his like-minded producers') choice of classic and current soul/funk (lots of E.W.& F.,Norman Connors etc)....now,post TV success he's doing work on JAZZ FM weeknights and a Saturday 5-7 pm show that are chockfullogreattrax.....he may be a little odd,and an acknowledged "lonely person"....but he's proved to me that his musical heart's in the right place.
Those that don't know him and may be intrigued....JAZZFM is on the web and TB has a show 22.00-00.00 weeknights uk time
17.00-19.00 Saturdays uk time
He's on now......