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'Blue-Eyed Soul' Singer Daryl Hall To Critics of Cultural Appropriation: 'STFU'

Goes rougher on record company execs and the music industry more generally.

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LFDH

Daryl Hall is the taller, more visible half of Hall & Oates, one of the best-selling musical duos of all time who, despite being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, never quite got the sort of critical love that many other inductees have generated. Hall and John Oates met while attending Temple University in Philadelphia, a city known not just for hosting American Bandstand for decades but for a rich musical lineage that includes classical singers (Mario Lanza, Marian Anderson), teen idols (Fabian, Frankie Avalon), and a version of soul that became known as "the Philadelphia Sound" (The Stylistics, Harold Melvin & the Blue Noes).

The city also gave rise to what became known as "blue-eyed soul," an homage to a mix of influences but especially to the black soul music that was "the Phiiadelphia Sound." Since 2007, Hall has also produced an online concert show called "Live From Daryl's House," where Hall hosts a singer or band at his Colorado residence/living space at an upstate New York venue. It's an interesting scene and recent guests have included acs such as Cheap Trick, Wyclef Jean, Ben Folds, and Aaron Neville (for a full list of appearances, go here).

In a new interview, Salon asked Daryl Hall how he, the great "blue-eyed soul" master, would respond to charges of "cultural appopriation" in terms of his music. The answer is…interesting (Salon questions in bold):

One of the current debates is over "cultural appropriation" – The idea that white people should not appropriate the culture of ethnic and racial minorities. I know that you don't like the term "blue eyed soul." Have you followed this conversation? 

Are you trying to say that I don't own the style of music that I grew up with and sing? I grew up with this music. It is not about being black or white. That is the most naïve attitude I've ever heard in my life. That is so far in the past, I hope, for everyone's sake. It isn't even an issue to discuss. The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music. It has nothing to do with "cultural appropriation." 

I agree with you entirely, because… 

I'm glad that you do, because anyone who says that should shut the fuck up. 

Well, this entire critique is coming back…

I'm sorry to hear it. Who is making these critiques? Who do they write for? What are their credentials to give an opinion like that? Who are they? 

Much of it is academic. 

Well, then they should go back to school. Academia? Now, there's a hotbed of idiocy. 

Anyone who knows about music, about culture in general, understands that everything is much more natural. Everything is a mixture. 

We live in America. That's our entire culture. Our culture is a blend. It isn't split up into groups. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool – worse than a fool – a dangerous fool.

Whole thing here.

As we've noted previously, essentially all culture activity, from music to yoga, is an act of appropriation (speaking of the yoga that's practiced today in North America, it's a Western creation). Hall's defense of his musical practice is starkly refreshing, even as it slides into anti-intellectualism.

It's worth making a distinction that goes unspoken in the Salon interview: Different types of cultural appropriation have different moral weights. When the appropriation serves to create continuity or openly acknowlege and celebrate influence and adaptation, it's all to the good. When it seeks simply to fetishize or conceal the influence of (almost inevitably) marginalized or vanquished groups, not so much.

Like it or hate it, Hall's music is certainly in the former group and his discography extends well beyond anything like simple imitation. As reviewers at the All-Music Guide wrote, "At their best, Hall & Oates' songs were filled with strong hooks and melodies that adhered to soul traditions without being a slave to them by incorporating elements of new wave." Popular culture—and pop music especially—is a "perpetual meaning machine" that is constantly riffing off itself, mongrelizing, and remixing itself. Led Zeppelin borrows from the blues (belatedly forking over money to Willie Dixon) and a million other sources (especially folk) before becoming one of the most-sampled bands in hip hop. And on and on (at least until copyright and the DMCA gets in the way).

En route to telling critics of cultural appropriation to "shut the fuck up," Hall says something equally damning about the music business, which was notoriously slow to allow crossover artists back in the day (hillbilly music, race music, pop music needed to be quarantined from one another) and even slower to embrace the Internet (leading to a series of sad Senate hearings circa 2000 and the banishing of Napster and similar services, only to see them re-emerge as Pandora and Spotify). Here's Hall's take:

If you work with what is real today instead of trying to fight it and resist it, it is a great time for making music. The real problem for young artists is that they don't have any help or understanding from the record companies. Record company executives are the most backward bunch of idiots I've ever seen in my life. They are probably only surpassed by television executives. If I had a record company, I would know what to do, and how to promote new artists, and how to make money for myself, and for the artist. Now, all the artists are floundering, because all they can do is play live, and hope that they can gather a large enough tribe to support them. There is far too much ignorance right now and refusal to accept change….

If I was the head of Atlantic Records, and not to single them out, I would start an internet show, and I would pair my young artists with my older artists for every broadcast. They have a big enough name. They're as big as me.

There's nothing new about recording artists slagging suits as out of touch and stupid; indeed, after the booty call, such an insight might be rock music's most-popular motif. But it's nothing less than inspiring to see a charter member of the baby boom (Hall was born in 1946) and a guy whose first LP came out in 1972 looking forward rather than bitching and moaning about his and his industry's salad days, when artists and labels alike could force you to buy 10 songs on a record or disc to get the one that you really wanted to hear.

Read the full interview at Salon.

Well, let's close this out with a song, right? Here's Hall performing one of Hall & Oates' signature tunes, "Sara Smile," with Smokey Robinson on a 2011 episode of Live From Daryl's House. Why "Sara Smile"? Because according to a 2012 count, it had been sampled no fewer than 59 times by various rappers and hip hop artists. And because no one ever really wants to hear "Maneater" ever again.

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  1. Academia? Now, there’s a hotbed of idiocy.

    Wait a minute. John is Daryl Hall?

    1. If he is, then who knew that he was possessed of such blue-eyed soul, capable of triggering torrents of tears from the moving lyrics of Sara Smile and One on One?

  2. I was kind of hoping it was Maneater.

    1. Shudder

  3. Hall has also produced an online concert show called “Live From Daryl’s House,” where Hall hosts a singer or band at his Colorado residence/living space.

    The show used to take place at his house in Millerton, NY, and is now filmed at his club in Pawling, NY called Daryl’s House Club.

    1. Thanks, will correct.

  4. Hall and Oates is in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame but Electric Light Orchestra isn’t.

    What the fucking fuck is that all about? It’s worse than ISIS.

    1. Playing Sara Smile on the piano in my inimitable soulful yet schmaltzy style has yielded benefits harmonious to my heterosexuality; Evil Women, not so much.

    2. Neither is Dick Dale. Dick Fucking Dale is not in the R&RHOF;. That tells you how legit it is.

      1. Rush didn’t make it in until 2013, and that was with tons of pressure from all sides.

        So yeah, fuck the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

  5. Academia? Now, there’s a hotbed of idiocy.

    Hall’s defense of his musical practice is starkly refreshing, even as it slides into anti-intellectualism.

    If there more to Hall’s anti-intellectualism that this? What, exactly, is Nick’s complaint? Does he deny the assertion? The articles of his very own website seem to support Hall’s position.

    Dare I say it……cocktail parties!

    1. I don’t think calling academia a hotbed of idiocy qualifies as anti-intellectualism. That is unless Nick thinks “academia=intellect”, which is an idiotic position to hold especially for a libertarian that should be well aware of the full retard leftism that absolutely and unequivocally dominates academia.

      1. In 1996, Gillespie received his Ph.D. in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also holds an M.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from Temple University and a B.A. in English and Psychology from Rutgers University. Gillespie, the father of two sons, lives in Washington, DC, and Oxford, Ohio.

        To admit the obvious would diminish his accomplishments.

        1. Don’t forget he teaches @Miami

          1. Hmmm…
            **nods and strokes beard in intellectual contemplation**

            To invoke the proper gravitas, Nick should trade his leather for tweed.

            1. He doesn’t teach at Miami.

              His ex wife is or was a prof there and his kids live in Oxford.

              /Miami Graduate 2009

        2. So, that’s Dr. Gillespie to you.

    2. The great irony is that the more someone thinks of himself as being an intellectual, the less of one he usually is.

      1. Case in point: Paul Krugman.

        -jcr

    3. Intellectualism does not necessarily. It can mean purposeless or purely academic thought. A mechanical engineer who does something useful and difficult is not an intellectual in this sense, while a Professor of Gender Studies might be an intellectual of high standing with many papers that are ultimately useless.

      1. * does not necessarily mean functionally intelligent.

      2. There is no such thing as a professor of “gender studies” who is an intellectual. They are all about emotion, not intellect.

        -jcr

      3. A mechanical engineer who does something useful and difficult is not an intellectual in this sense, while a Professor of Gender Studies might be an intellectual of high standing with many papers that are ultimately worse than useless.

        FIFY

  6. Once you’re a properly indoctrinated SJW, everything is political. No song and no meal can ever be enjoyed without the proper helping of white guilt. They are the fun police and the Inquisition.

    1. This. If the personal is the political, and everything is political, then everything is personal. Explains why these fuckwits get their panties so easily bunched.

    2. And the entire point of all this is to wear normal America down and beat it into submission to the point where it eventually surrenders and accepts global socialism/communism as the norm.

      The worst part: for the first time, it’s working.

      1. Not really working if even ageing rock stars and comedians are calling bullshit, and conservatives/libertarians have become immune to the routine name-calling.

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  8. “Hall’s defense of his musical practice is starkly refreshing, even as it slides into anti-intellectualism.”

    What the hell does “slides into anti-intellectualism” refer to? That he called academia a hotbed of idiocy…..well, duh.

  9. “Blue-Eyed Soul” Singer Daryl Hall To Critics of Cultural Appropriation: “STFU”

    One of the current debates is over “cultural appropriation” ? The idea that white people should not appropriate the culture of ethnic and racial minorities. I know that you don’t like the term “blue eyed soul.” Have you followed this conversation?

    Are you trying to say that I don’t own the style of music that I grew up with and sing? I grew up with this music. It is not about being black or white. That is the most na?ve attitude I’ve ever heard in my life. That is so far in the past, I hope, for everyone’s sake. It isn’t even an issue to discuss. The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music. It has nothing to do with “cultural appropriation.”

    The headline makes it sound he’s bashing people who are critical of the “cultural appropriation” bullshit that the SJW left is peddling, but it certainly reads like his views are the opposite. Headline fail.

    1. It only sounds that way to people who already believe it’s bullshit. We aren’t critics of cultural appropriation. We are critics of the idea that cultural appropriation is in any way a bad thing.

  10. “Different types of cultural appropriation have different moral weights. When the appropriation serves to create continuity or openly acknowlege and celebrate influence and adaptation, it’s all to the good. When it seeks simply to fetishize or conceal the influence of (almost inevitably) marginalized or vanquished groups, not so much.”

    There is no such thing as cultural appropriation Nick. Shut the fuck up.

    1. Something something… KOCKTALE PARTEEZ!11!!!1!!!!

      1. No, Suthenboy is right. Nick’s buying into a completely retarded concept that leaves the world a dumber place.

        1. I know, I was being sarcastic.

          1. Sorry. My sarcasm meter must be on the fritz.

      2. That’s getting to be a trend among Reason staff, accepting the false premises of the left because they think a watered down argument is going to win over lefties. I suspect that Nick is the one who hired Robby.

    2. I think that he is interjecting Slate’s position as a critique of the SJ mindset. I agree that it’s not entirely clear. But Nick has advanced academic degrees in English, creative writing and English Literature, so maybe we aren’t smart enough to understand him.

    3. Yeah, the whole notion doesn’t even deserve consideration. It’s a complete joke.

      Mocking or caricaturing a culture in an unflattering way isn’t nice. But so what? The world is full of people not being nice.

    4. When it seeks simply to fetishize or conceal the influence of (almost inevitably) marginalized or vanquished groups, not so much.

      It sounds like there is an infinitesimally narrow window for proper cultural appropriation here.

      I’m not sure how to distinguish between “fetishizing” of a group without “celebrating” the group.

      And I don’t know how a comprehensive cultural appropriation isn’t a melting-pot which would “conceal” the origins.

      IOW, if you talk about where it came from, you’re fetishizing. If you don’t, you’re concealing.

  11. Different types of cultural appropriation have different moral weights. When the appropriation serves to create continuity or openly acknowlege and celebrate influence and adaptation, it’s all to the good. When it seeks simply to fetishize or conceal the influence of (almost inevitably) marginalized or vanquished groups, not so much.

    Baloney! “Cultural appropriation” isn’t an actual thing. No one “owns” a culture. And if anyone owns individual cultural achievements, it certainly isn’t the drooling mass of semi-literate poseurs whose only claim to the achievement is shared skin color or ancestry as the person who created it.

    What there is is cultural diffusion, individuals leveraging cultural achievements to, hopefully, build upon their legacy and create additional achievements.

  12. If you believe in cultural appropriation then you don’t believe in evolution. I’ll leave it at that.

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  15. I am still available to have Daryl Hall’s baby anytime he wants.

    *technically i have no uterus, but i assume this will be a magic soul-baby which doesn’t require such material-niceties.

  16. and this?

    Different types of cultural appropriation have different moral weights

    Christ way to ruin a guy’s buzz.

    I was all like (Swoon! Daryl Hall dealing out cultural bitch slaps) and Nick comes in to offer his own version of a Robbyism. Fucking lame.

  17. Harold Melvin & the Blue Noes

    They were too much of a downer for me to enjoy….

    1. Blockquote fail!

    2. whu

      Everything on TSOP was 2/3 “slow jams” and 1/3 “bumping”. Do not buy TSOP records if you’re only looking for bump.

      1. I was kidding Nick about the typo: “Blue Noes.”

  18. “The music that you listened to when you grew up is your music.”

    Fuck yeah!! Mongolian throat-singing hip hop is ~MY~ music!!

  19. There is nothing more pro-intellectual than to note that universities are hotbeds of idiocy these days. It’s nothing but a rational observation of facts, which is — one hopes — the foundation of any worthwhile intellectual endeavor.

  20. My family is Middle Eastern. I think people who call processed lentils “hummus” are silly but I am only offended because the Arabic word for chickpeas is “hummus”. I don’t consider it cultural appropriation; indeed, I want somebody to come up with an exciting way to mix Middle Eastern food and, say, Mexican food.

    Hmm, maybe I should make burritos with hummus instead of sour cream…?

    1. I want somebody to come up with an exciting way to mix Middle Eastern food and, say, Mexican food

      Throw some salsa on your hummus, and scoop it up with your choice of pita or tortilla chips.

      That wasn’t so hard, was it?

      Now, whether you would be fetishizing or concealing one or more cultural influences by doing so, I have no idea.

    2. Middle Eastern food and, say, Mexican food.

      “Selma Hayek” has a nice ring to it.

  21. Gee, chill Darryl. Leave the rants to the professionals. Us!

  22. I disagree vehemently that Hall’s comments tend toward anti-intellectualism. The academics he’s targeting with his comments are phony intellectuals. All the proggie blabber about “cultural appropriation” is intellectually bankrupt. It is political thuggery couched in fake academic-sounding language, but no one outside the academy is fooled for one second.

  23. When it seeks simply to fetishize or conceal the influence of (almost inevitably) marginalized or vanquished groups, not so much.

    Oh horseshit. There’s no such thing as “bad” cultural appropriation. If it’s bad art it isn’t because it’s culturally appropriated. And if it’s good art, it doesn’t matter how much fetishizing or concealing is being done.

  24. …the banishing of Napster and similar services, only to see them re-emerge as Pandora and Spotify.

    Napster and other p2p file sharing services from the late ’90s/early aughts have absolutely fuck all to do with Pandora or Spotify you donut. Pandora and Spotify legally license music and then stream it to clients over the internet. They’re more similar to terrestrial radio than they are to p2p file sharing.

  25. Culture isn’t property. It can’t be appropriated. Don’t play along with the SJWs premises, Nick.

    -jcr

  26. Cultural appropriation ==

    Non Italians eating Pizza

    Non French eating French Toast

    Non English eating English Muffins

    Non Americans eating Apple Pie

    1. Non-French eating French fries.

      French eating French fries, since the potato is not indigenous to Europe. The French appropriated it from the Spanish, who appropriated it from the Incas.

      So nobody is allowed to eat French fries.

    2. I remember traveling to DC when I was in college in the 80’s, and there was a place in Georgetown called “Abdul’s Pizza”

    3. Almost all of Italian food is appropriated, because they didn’t have the tomato, it came from the New World.

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  28. Aren’t you fetishing a marginalized culture, 1950s juvenile delinquents, by wearing that jacket and pretending you are Fonzie?

  29. Ugh, why would we care what half of one of the shittiest pop acts of the 70s/early 80s thinks.

    When they started popping up again due to nostalgia revival, I was shocked that they were framing themselves as being part of some great soul tradition. They were bland top 40 pop, no more, no less.

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