Self-Loathing Whiteys of Rock (1): John Densmore

"Baby, you can't light my fire unless you're Black (or Joe Cocker)"

One of the great myths that the 60s counter culture — which is, of course, now the mainstream culture — was that of the "soulful" Black singer and the "soulless" White singer. According to this myth, only Black singers could ever get in touch with the "deep soul" of the cosmos and express the pain, passion, and profundity of the human condition in song, with occasional exceptions merely proving the rule.

This recent quote from John Densmore, commenting on the death of the English singer Joe Cocker, is replete with this attitude, which can either be described as self-loathing reverse racism or exoticizing (and therefore misunderstanding) "The Other":
"I was sitting at the side of the stage, at the legendary Woodstock Music Festival, waiting to hear this new rocker on the scene from England. His cover of With a Little Help From My Friends was reverberating in my head. I was sure he was black. How could a singer with so much soul not be? Out he came, Sheffield, England white complexion, silver stars on his dark blue boots, and a mesmerizing, almost deformed stage presence. No one could take their eyes off him. He was magic. R.I.P."

While Cocker's performance is interesting and ear-catching — a mixture of sloppiness and histrionics that ultimately grates — it is clearly one of the most overrated performances of all time, but I guess you just had to be there, "man." You know what I'm toking about?

Colin Liddell
Revenge of Riff Raff

25th December, 2014
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