Paul Simon: Genius or Wanker?

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Paul Simon: Genius or Wanker?

Genius.
35
63%
Wanker.
21
38%
 
Total votes: 56

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Count Machuki
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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 01:49

The Baron wrote:
I suspect that these unhelpful, bogus words are merely proxies for personal preference.

Or, even worse, hidebound academic/political orthodoxy.


oh you. i think your goading will not work. you know the difference between feeling and forcing the funk, don't you?
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Count Machuki
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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 01:53

by the way, which african-inflected songs did simon record prior to graceland?

Both Elvis and Paul Simon are or were white performers who used elements from black musics. In addition, in the context in which this happened, blacks had to deal with persistent racism from whites


well, elvis stole from his neighbors (influence) and simon stole from people on the other side of the world, with whom he had no existing relationship (exploitation).

any of those words unacceptable to the BCB academic elite?
:roll:
Let U be the set of all united sets, K be the set of the kids and D be the set of things divided.
Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 05 Jul 2007, 02:18

CountCulturalImperialist wrote:
take5_d_shorterer wrote:
I don't understand these terms [organic, artificial] either, and in particular I don't understand how Elvis is organic while Paul Simon is artificial. Somehow these terms "organic" and "artificial" are supposed to have something to do with "cultural imperialism" but this doesn't provide any answers that I can see.

Both Elvis and Paul Simon are or were white performers who used elements from black musics. In addition, in the context in which this happened, blacks had to deal with persistent racism from whites.

How is one performer not a cultural imperialist while the other is? How is Elvis organic while Paul Simon is artificial?


well, elvis stole from his neighbors (influence) and simon stole from people on the other side of the world, with whom he had no existing relationship (exploitation).


If this is what you mean by "exploitation", when The Beatles played material from Chuck Berry or Larry Williams or Motown who were on the other side of the world and with whom they had no existing relationships, that was exploitation, not (benign) influence.

Earlier though, you had this to say:

to address your secondary point, organic trading of influences (elvis, the beatles, yr country example) is NOT cultural imperialism. i object to the unnatural, zombie-like grafting of an indigenous music onto a more dominant musical form.



So The Beatles are "organic", not "unnatural", not "cultural imperialism" but they are "exploitation"?

?

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Postby Velvis » 05 Jul 2007, 02:25

CountCulturalImperialist wrote:by the way, which african-inflected songs did simon record prior to graceland?



Loves Me Like a Rock, for one.

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Postby bixhenry » 05 Jul 2007, 03:23

Velvis wrote:
CountCulturalImperialist wrote:by the way, which african-inflected songs did simon record prior to graceland?



Loves Me Like a Rock, for one.


'Mother And Child Reunion' was recorded in Jamaica for Simon's debut solo album which was released in 1972. It has an obvious reggae feel, and sounds completely natural to me - like a Paul Simon song with an interesting and evocative musical setting, which is what it is. Doesn't sound to me like the reggae band backing PS are gnashing their teeth, cursing whitey, either; sounds, in fact, like great music.
Wu-Tang Clan's Rza, on his non-rap influences: "Pink Floyd, Beatles, Yes...all them niggas!"

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Count Machuki
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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 03:36

*throws up hands*
Let U be the set of all united sets, K be the set of the kids and D be the set of things divided.
Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 03:42

goldwax wrote:
CountCulturalImperialist wrote:*throws up hands*


Well, you shouldn't have eaten them in the first place.


yeah, especially after the feet. :roll:

pah...whatever. it makes sense to me.
Let U be the set of all united sets, K be the set of the kids and D be the set of things divided.
Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

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Postby Uncle Spellbinder » 05 Jul 2007, 03:44

I think he's recorded quite a few GREAT songs, but as a whole, he interests me little. But to say he's hijacked a culture for music creation is a bit on the absurd side, as far as I'm concerned. Being influenced by and utilizing a type of music/musicians does not equate to stealing a culture.

Just my 2 cents.
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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 04:11

jeez louise...anybody else want to pile on?
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Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

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Postby Count Machuki » 05 Jul 2007, 04:28

goldwax wrote:
CountCulturalImperialist wrote:jeez louise...anybody else want to pile on?


Don't take it personally that people don't agree with you, man!


fair enough. i just...i dunno, i fought that one hard and...well, you saw.

plus, i've been drinking.
:D
Let U be the set of all united sets, K be the set of the kids and D be the set of things divided.
Then it follows that ∀ k ∈ K: K ∈ U ⇒ k ∉ D

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Postby toomanyhatz » 05 Jul 2007, 08:27

goldwax wrote:What about ol' Marvin Gaye? When he started out at Motown, he wanted to be a crooner like Sinatra and Cole. Berry forced him to sing soul music and "shake his ass" and while he wasn't ever comfortable with it, the results are thrilling. So was Berry stifling Marvin's creativity and artistic vision? That's debatable, I suppose, but the results speak for themselves. But whatever it is he did, it's just what Cooder did with Omara. They both made an artistic call in their role of producer, and their instincts proved superior to the singers that they were working with. After all, just because you're blessed with a remarkable instrument, it doesn't mean that you always know how to best use it.


Bad example. When Marvin's creativity and artistic vision were allowed free reign, crooner influence and all, he made his best music.

Besides which, Berry was not attempting to represent the music of Marvin Gaye. Marvin was one of many singers used to create the Motown sound. When Ry Cooder claims to be producing the music of another land, and he steers one of the singers away from what she wants to do, he is no longer representing her version of her own music, he is representing his own. The difference between him and Gordy is that Gordy didn't pretend otherwise.

I'm not even saying I don't like the music- I love Buena Vista Social Club. I'm just saying it fits the definition of cultural imperialism better than Simon hiring great African musicians because that's the sound he wants on his record.
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Postby brotherlouie » 05 Jul 2007, 10:04

At the risk of kiling the thread with a bland comment, some producers give artists spaceto woork because that's what they need and sometimes that same producer will drive other artists hard becasue that's what they need.

Guess what, all artists are different. Going back to Simon. He strikes me as an incredibly bright guy that works stuff out. He doesn't have Elvis' instinct, Check Berry's ear, or Dylan's cussedness. He probably falls for these 'other' musics and sees them as a challenge. He needs that because he's proved he can write songs, lyrics and arrange them all beautifully. You could accuse him of dilettantism and I wouldn't argue, but the resuts, to me, speak for themselves.

On the subject of Beatles and their being influenced by Motown, doo wop etc. There's a strange exchange here. This would be UK artists (from a smaller economy), being influenced by the artists from the US (the larger economy). If I understand, as it was their choice use the influences you can't blame those US artists for cultural imperialism. However those artists were some of the worst represented and exploited artists of the 20th century, and McCartney et al had stronger economic backgrounds. That means that they were exploiting those influences for their own ends. Does that mean they are reverse cultural imperialists?

A stronger example would be the Moody Blues doing "Go Now" or any number of Stones covers, I suppose.

I'm rambling a bit, but what I'm getting at is that it travles both ways, all the time, and hardly ever at the control of the artist.

You could, I believe, make a strong case for Paul Simon's activity to be classified as musical tourism, but imperialism? Nah.

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Postby brotherlouie » 05 Jul 2007, 10:10

By the way, can this go in Classic Threads when it dies down? There's some good stuff here.

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Postby Leg of lamb » 05 Jul 2007, 14:12

brotherlouie wrote:By the way, can this go in Classic Threads when it dies down? There's some good stuff here.


I was thinking this. Some of the writing has been really first class.
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Postby sloopjohnc » 05 Jul 2007, 14:19

Uncle Spellbinder wrote:I think he's recorded quite a few GREAT songs, but as a whole, he interests me little. But to say he's hijacked a culture for music creation is a bit on the absurd side, as far as I'm concerned. Being influenced by and utilizing a type of music/musicians does not equate to stealing a culture.

Just my 2 cents.


I agree. I think this conversation is ridiculous in the context of pop/rock music.

Anyone could say this about the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, or countless other bands stealing African-American culture.

That's what modern pop music does. It steals like a mutha and shines it up all nice and purty like.

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Postby Velvis » 05 Jul 2007, 15:22

Leg of lamb wrote:
brotherlouie wrote:By the way, can this go in Classic Threads when it dies down? There's some good stuff here.


I was thinking this. Some of the writing has been really first class.


Done.

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Postby Buddha B-Rex » 05 Jul 2007, 15:49

Actually...this thread was amazing! It started as a bit of a larf, but you guys really went beyond the call. I'm psyched to be among people who are so thoughtful and appreciative of music, even if some of you are musical fascists.

:D

I'm sure to revive the 'Genius or Wanker' theme again!
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Postby take5_d_shorterer » 05 Jul 2007, 16:49

Quac O. wrote:What I don't like about Graceland is that the melodiousness of the African music he was influenced by seems to require some special lyrical angle, and for me, I don't think he found it. The stuff Simon wrote wasn't very interesting to me. Maybe Graceland means something to him. I'm more put off by Simon's use of the Elvis imagery than any impropriety of use of African music.


This is similar to a thought I had just the other day listening to Sambient's JUoA CD, which was Bebel Gilberto's self-titled debut (I'll go through the connections in just a second).

I would also agree that something didn't quite gell. The music that had the biggest South African influence suggested syllables and accents different from the ones that Paul Simon has access to. South African vocal groups have their own "doo-wop" choruses and words that they use; they have a particular sound and an accent, and these are totally different from Simon's lyrics and the way he sings.

Maybe someone like Van Morrison could have figured out a way in work within South African styles, but Morrison is much more imaginative and daring singer.

In a larger context (and the one that connects this to Bebel Gilberto), I think that some musical styles are hard to sing in languages other than their original language. Bossa nova is meant to be in Portuguese. Susannah McCorkle tried singing in Portuguese and English, and the choruses I've heard in English don't work. Bebel's singing in English isn't as good as her singing in Portuguese.

Edith Piaf doesn't sound right in English.

Opera has a hard time working in languages other than Italian. Some of this may be because in English you can actually hear the words,some of which you don't want to hear.

Example. Michael Tippett.

"What's bugging you, man?/ Cool and jivey once;/ Now, touchy and tight


Remember, this is sung within an opera.

I was flabberghasted as well.

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Postby Leg of lamb » 05 Jul 2007, 16:56

I actually think that the words on Graceland fit superbly. It could be thought of as a little tasteless that these tales of affluent post-divorce life are being welded onto African musical ideas, but I find the fusion very touching. Most of the songs touch upon redemption as a theme and, in an oblique way, the new lease of life which Simon found in African music seems to mirror this.

Admittedly, it's not something that should work on paper but the results sound very natural to me. That opening line of 'Gumboots' ('I was having this discussion in a taxi heading downtown') opens up the possibilities of the song in such a relaxed way, and it bounces off the rhythm of the music beautifully.
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