Perhaps they are a bit sensitive, those kids from the North who have stormed the alt.nation with their bombast and severe haircuts, but I like them.
Win Will Butler, singer for member of the Arcade Fire, responds to an article from the New Yorker (and discussed at some length here) in which he takes offense at the writer’s insistence that his band does not display any influence from black artists. True to his band’s dramatic flair, Butler insists he in fact STEALS from “black people’s music from all over the globe.”
And he proves it by posting an mp3 with, what are to him, decidedly “black” sounding elements from the Arcade Fire’s catalog.
Not satisfied to simply defend himself, Butler goes on to defend good culture stealing honkies from the past and present.
First, I would encourage you not to ignore the Latin element in rock-and-roll history. “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles is in fact “a fairly faithful rendition of a 1962 R. & B. cover by the Isley Brothers.” But that 1962 version is a fairly faithful rip-off of La Bamba by Ritchie Valens, which is a fairly faithful rip off of a traditional Latin tune plus a rock and roll beat. A song like “Stand by Me” (written by a black man with the help of a couple Jews) was written in part to cash in on the Latin craze in America. But those kind of syncopated rhythms are now so embedded in our culture that I, at least, have a hard time recognizing them as Latin….
Secondly, don’t forget that miscegenation need [not] be across color lines. Poles and Italians and the Irish don’t mix, traditionally. I think an artist like Joanna Newsom is stealing Old World folk-style music (dare I say Irish?) and mixing it with more American Folk, which is partly white and partly black and partly mysterious (which you touch on in your article).
Those damned Canadians and their musically-fueled empire aspirations…