Tag Archives: Songwriting

Musical Authenticity

Billie Holiday vs. Bing Crosby

Hank Williams vs. Garth Brooks

James Brown vs. Prince

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last few months thinking about musical authenticity (mostly in order to pass one of the classes in my master’s program). This topic has come up here at the Roadhouse before (1|2|3), but this is the first time I’ve done any real heavy lifting on the topic. So here, in very un-academicy format, are some of my thoughts on musical authenticity.

1 – Romanticism
Most people use the “Authentic” as a stand-in for the romantic notion that art should be unfiltered and un-crafted. Sophistication is the antithesis of authenticity. Niel Young is authentic because he gets falling-down drunk and then records songs on the first take without rehearsing the band. Never mind that the result sucks, it’s authentic. The idea of muse, inspiration, artist-as-bystander, these are the notions that get bound up in the term “authentic”.

2 – Historicity
Authentic is also a function of historical proximity to the musical nexus, when something changed into something new. When field songs became the blues, the first generation of artists were “authentic” by virtue of being close to the source. The Sex Pistols are more authentic than Green Day because they were part of the pivot. In some sense, anyone who tries to stand in an existing stream of music suffers comparison to how it was done by the first ones who did it, and even the flaws and cracks in how the first generation did it become codified as essential to the “authentic” sound.

3 – Pills and Powders
If you have liver damage, you are more authentic.

4 – Africa
This is a particularly American phenomenon, but authenticity in American music is often used as a way of quantifying the amount of “Africanism” in the music. American music emerged out of European and African streams – it’s not African, it’s not European, it’s American, something uniquely new emerging out of the tension and crossing influences of the two. In spite of this historical reality,  the controlling narrative of musical criticism is that White music stole and corrupted Black music. Against this backdrop, “authenticity” is a code phrase for music that is less “corrupted” by white influence, something that is “true to it’s African roots”. This narrative was already in full effect by the time John Lomax made his famous field recordings of the early blues, seeking out music he believed to be “untainted” by white influence (ignoring the fact that anything with a dominant 7th chord is already hopelessly entwined with European harmony). The commercial success of Lead Belly and other earth blues artists with white audiences was specifically because of this perceived authentic preservation of Africanism in their music. This controlling narrative emerged again and again, in the social commentary on Jazz, Be Bop, Motown, Funk, Hip-Hop …

It’s impossible to escape the blatant racism in this assumption, especially in light of point 1. The subtext of Africanism-as-authenticity is the appeal to lack of sophistication, the romantic notion that music emerges unfiltered and un-crafted. Clearly James Brown couldn’t have thought through the complex intricacies of how to form a funk groove – “those people” just have natural rhythm!

So, I’m interested in what you fine folk have to say. Here are a few questions:

  1. Is it possible to be authentic as a 2nd generation artist in a genre?
  2. How important is impact (who it influences, how long it endures) on authenticity?
  3. Does authenticity matter? I know we all get skittish about words like “better” or “important” when we talk about music, but let’s acknowledge for a minute that our experience grants us some expertise, and make a judgment call. When it comes time to load up humanity’s cultural artifacts in the space-ark, will authenticity be part of the criteria for preservation?
  4. Race. Not really a question, but go for it anyway.

I promise, you are not being drafted into my thesis paper homework. I just think this is a discussion worth having.

Underneath the Satellites

Ran across this the other day. It’s a track I completely finished writing the music and producing, but never finished a song to go with it. It was an experiment in tweaking with different keyboards – a rhodes, jupe 8, a few delays, and I think an old EMU sampler makes an appearance.

Anyway, enjoy!

Underneath the Satellites
underneath_the_sat_edit.mp3

The Ongoing Dailies Production Blogging Experience

Still at it!  

Go read it.  This one’s kinda cool, I think.

Also, in case you’re not someone whose in my Facebook or MySpace loop, and if you’d like to be, feel free to email us at thedailiesmusic@gmail.com, we’re excited to announce our official CD release show has been booked at The Hotel Cafe on February 28th @ 11pm.  We’re over the moon at the invitation to play there.  Hope you can come if you’re in the greater L.A. area.  Come see Mike and Corey (and Dana and Rosy) ripping it up with us.  

I know this is a bit desperate, but seriously go read it, or at least follow the link and then don’t read it.  I want to make sure we’re top ranked on Google, as I’ve started to work the intertubes in earnest, emailing music blogs and media sites.  

Thanks, roadies.

The Dailies – Continued Blogging on Songwriting and Production

So, I’ve quietly continued my series on the writing and creation of our new record, so tastefully reviewed by our own Zackiepoo.  

I put up another edition, but it seems like the traffic is diminished if I don’t link to it from here.  All hail the power of Addison Road.  Or something.  If you dug the first two posts, head on over to www.thedailiesmusic.com from time to time and see what we’re cooking.  This one is actually pretty interesting, as it talks about a near arranging disaster that had to be averted in the 11th hour.  

We’re getting some traction on gigs, so if you live in the L.A. area and want to hear us with the band, your time is coming.  The first of these is happening on Feb 7th, at 10pm, at Room 5 on La Brea.  Hope to see you there!

P.S.  Something you should know about Zack:  I’ve discovered more music because of him than any of my other friends.  He has a nose for good stuff, and he’s a true lover of music.  While he is a friend, he’s not a sunshine-blowing sorta friend.  If he didn’t like the record, he would have remained politely silent.  Actually, he might have trashed it.  He’s a tough nut, that Zack.

Signal Chain :: Evolution of a Song

Hey all, and a happy new year.  

I have to tell you that I fear that Facebook and iPhones and the holidays and offspring are sucking the life from Addison Road.  We need a mobile app, Mike!!!!  

In the spirit of the new year, and new starts, I wanted to let you all know that I’m starting a new series of posts over at The Dailies’ Website, journaling the evolution of each of the songs from our new record.  I had a lot of fun putting this together this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.  

Hope 2009 is treating you all well, thus far, and we look forward to opening up our musical heads for you all now that the Christmas Miracles are all done.  

Here!  Click me!  Click right here!  Yeah!  This one!  With the little blue line under it!  CLICK IT!!

New Music From The Dailies – All In

Well, if we had any hopes of keeping in the good graces of the CCM crowd, I think we can kiss them goodbye.  Anytime you use poker as a metaphor, I think you can forget your chances of a lot of airplay on Christian Hit Radio.

Please excuse me while I go on with my life.  

Erica came to me a week ago and said:  ”We need a mindless fist-pumper.  There are a lot of great songs, but as usual, they trend towards the thinky side of things.”  We sat down and started kicking ideas around, and within about, oh, I dunno, 45 seconds, we’d landed on this tune.

I think it has the biggest hook of the whole record.  Stick nominated this tune as The Dailies song most likely to get licensed by a casino.  I will say, truly, it’s not really about poker.  Erica and I are basically laying our lives on the line.  This season of our lives has been the biggest risk we’ve ever taken.  We’re going all in, and hoping that someone will call.  

Stay tuned next week, as we’ll post blogs all through the week from Eldorado, both here and at the official Dailies site.  

Hope you enjoy.  As usual, I’m sending you over to our website.

New Music From The Dailies – Signal Chain

Well.  I wish to assure Mike and Corey that I have not slunk off anywhere.  All of the bittersweet couplets are already written.  

This past week has been very, very busy.    Anyways… here is something new for you all to hear.  I will again send you to The Dailies website to hear it.  This one’s got a little fundie-bait in it, not to mention a pretty sweet bass part.  :)

Click here and enjoy!

New Music from The Dailies

Alrighty, I’ll break the blogging fast with a little demo-licious goodness.

For several weeks now, I’ve been blogging in obscurity over at our recently simplified website.  It’s been fun… a private little place for me to put my thoughts,  creating a little backlog of material for when we decided to make it known to ya’ll.  That time has come, we think.  

I won’t post the audio here, because I want you guys to go over there!  :)  Feel free to comment here or there, or anywhere.  I’ll continue posting material and then alerting the Addison Roadies about any and all new stuff.  We hope you enjoy!  There’s more discussion about the music itself on our blog.

 www.thedailiesmusic.com