Rock’n'Rolls arkitekt Chuck Berry døde i ugens løb i en alder af 90 år og heldigvis kan vi via identitetshysterikere hædre det gamle musik-ikon på Monokultur uden at forlade vores hadske fokus. David Marcus mindes scenen i 80er filmen Tilbage Til Fremtiden, hvor Marvin Berry ringer til fætter Chuck og begejstret fortæller “You know that new sound you were looking for?” mens Marty McFly spiller Johnny B Goode for et forbløffet afdansningsbal.
What didn’t exist in the popular consciousness in 1985, but does now, is the concept of Cultural Appropriation. The concept argues that members of a dominant culture should not take the cultural products of a non-dominant culture and attempt to make them their own. Greg Tate’s 2003 book, “Everything but the Burden,” helped to popularize the concept, which had bubbled in academia throughout the 1990s.
Rock and Roll, as it turns out, is a popular example used by those who argue against cultural appropriation. In this 2014 Salon article, “Elvis Wasn’t the First to Steal Black Music: 10 White Artists who ‘Borrowed’ from R & B Before the King,” we’re told that black artists invented Rock and Roll, and it was stolen by white artists such as Elvis Presley.
This makes the “Back to the Future” joke somewhat more sinister today: white people didn’t steal Rock and Roll, they travelled back in time to teach it to black people. But while it is true that black artists, especially blues guitarists, had an outsized influence on Rock and Roll—one that was not sufficiently compensated or celebrated—the real story is, not surprisingly, more complex. And perhaps no artists’ work tells that complex story of cultural mixology better than Chuck Berry’s.
Chuck Berry’s first big hit was “Maybelline,” with legendary Chess Records in 1955. Chess was looking for a new sound, something fresh that didn’t sound like traditional black Rhythm and Blues. What Berry brought them was a guitar-driven version of a country song, “Ida Ray.” The country sound, favored by white artists, was taken from a fiddle tune. It balanced the blues elements, making them lighter, airier, and more flexible. Some believe that in “Maybelline,” and then the next year with “Roll Over Beethoven,” also rooted in a country sound, Chuck Berry invented rock guitar.
Chuck Berry var vokset op med country musik, hans mor var en stor fan, som mange sorte var det da det var umuligt at segregere folks kulturelle indtryk. Dengang var det en anden tid, en tid med direkte og strukturel racesme, som man vidste var racisme, både de der var modstandere og de der vedkendte sig den. Idag er det næsten ingen racisme tilbage, jo Black Lives Matter og den slags, men de er uden reel betydning, så ingen kan genkende den. Rolling Stones Magazine mindes en anden anekdote om Berry, som definerer appropriationstankens sande væsen
In the 1978 book Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues, by Arnold Shaw, blues artist Jimmy Witherspoon is quoted as saying, “Chuck Berry is a country singer. People put everybody in categories, black, white, this. Now, if Chuck Berry was white… he would be the top country star in the world.” That claim can certainly be backed up by the vast number of country acts who have paid homage to Berry by covering his songs, putting a country – and in some cases bluegrass – spin on some of his most highly regarded tunes.
Dengang vidste man at det var racisme at afholde folk fra kulturelle og kunstneriske udtryk baseret på deres farve.
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