Pop/Country Singer Taylor Swift Accused Of "Cultural Appropriation" For Her Re-Make Of Earth Wind And Fire Classic

Via:  johnrussell  •  11 months ago  •  17 comments

Pop/Country Singer Taylor Swift Accused Of "Cultural Appropriation" For Her Re-Make Of Earth Wind And Fire Classic

First here is the original version of "September"

and the Taylor Swift "country" version

And here is the claim of cultural appropriation as found in the Huffington Post


Aight. So I just wanna make it clear up front that my Nana did not play Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” in the house when I was growing up for Taylor Swift to come along and ruin it.

Swift and her blasphemous cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” — part of the Spotify Singles series — got me and the internet fucked up beyond measure. Her version of the blassic hit, released on Friday, manages in three minutes to strip the song of its iconic funk elements, its soul, its rhythm, its ba-de-ahh in the hook. She has morphed one of our culture’s greatest songs into one of them acoustic covers white women who frequent coffee shops love so much. 

“September,” the original “September,” is the sound of black joy. It’s a song that black folks can dance, jig, jam, smoke, drink and play spades to, a timeless bop. This is why it is a black cookout staple — revered alongside “Before I Let Go” and baked mac and cheese.  


I ain’t having it. Swift lacks the passion, the liveliness, the rhythm and, frankly, the soul to properly honor the song. Her version is purely banjos and twinkles and milky vocals and shit. (The irony of which is that banjos themselves used to be among America’s blackest musical instruments before they were appropriated by white musicians.)

“Sounds like housing discrimination,” tweeted SB Nation writer Zito Madu. Instead of that muffled Nashville percussion, Taylor might as well have used the sound of papers being shuffled on the desk of a banker denying a black person’s loan.

We all know this game: A white person strips something of its blackness and packages it for a white audience. It’s as old as America. But did she have to take this? And did it have to be Taylor Swift?

Finding this song, of all songs, in Taylor Swift’s mouth, of all mouths, is like coming across George Clinton in the middle of a West Elm store. It’s an insult to every cookout my Nana and all the Nanas of the community threw. It’s a stain on the musical fabric of our country.

Maurice White didn’t die for this. And if you don’t know who Maurice White is, then, well, maybe you’re part of the problem, too.


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1  seeder  JohnRussell    11 months ago

I don't see the problem. 

Earth Wind And Fire did a cover of the Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life" which changed the vibe some from the original. White artists have covered "black" songs and black artists have covered "white" songs. 

It's just music. 

Many years ago there was a controversy as to whether Elvis had "stole" black music as he began to become famous, particularly the song "Hound Dog". The charge was that Elvis took black music ", rock and roll" and whitened it up.  But if you look at the music of Elvis, it was a combination of hillbilly music, blues influence, and even Tin Pan Alley show tunes. American music is often a conglomeration. 

The complaint about Taylor Swift seems somewhat comical to me though. Her version, while not funk, keeps the general pace and rhythm of the original and is not a drastic departure. 

Supposedly twitter was ablaze with criticism of Swift the other day for this supposed sacrilege. 

I don't get it. 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  JohnRussell @1    11 months ago

Totally agreeing with you on this John...

The cultural appropriation thing is silly. Every culture appropriates. 

1.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    11 months ago

On You Tube there is a small blurb with the Swift version that indicates that the surviving members of EW&F (the leader and songwriter Maurice White died a few years ago) have no problem with the Taylor Swift cover. One of them said Swift's version was like a "cherry on top" of the song's history. 

1.1.2  IceMan  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    11 months ago

After reading the article I had to look to see who wrote it. I thought it was a hit peace by Al Sharpton trying his best to futher divide the races.

I don't recall anyone dumping on Charlie Pride for ruining the white mans country music. Charlie was a great counrty artist that did justice to country western music just as Taylor Swift is a great artist doing justice to EW&F music. I admit I do like EW&F orginial better but I like looking at Taylor more than I do EW&F  winking

CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."
1.1.3  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    11 months ago

John, Perrie, and Iceman. I am saddened that Julia Craven of Huffington Post dared to attempt to 'blast' Taylor Swift's track, September, right out the gate. It a typical 'hit' piece, tacky, unseemly racial, and dare I say, personal? I am not Taylor's target audience because of my age, but I do so enjoy her music, her success, and her savoir faire. The fact is, it would have been questionable for her to 'funk out' on this song already iconic in the genre.

I, perhaps, you too, hear it all the time these days, as the talent and judge shows ask the singers to 'own' the songs for themselves and in the process breath new life and interest into them for the next generations string of memories.

Julia Craven of Huffington Post you deserve your own backlash for what you wrote!!

Tex Stankley
1.1.4  Tex Stankley  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1    11 months ago

And all music is just licks off records that I heard.   I agree.  Cultural appropriation is hokum.   All creativity builds and expands on what came before.  It is not a bad thing.   It is a very good thing. 

CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."
1.2  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."  replied to  JohnRussell @1    11 months ago

JR, your avatar captures the spirit of the moment. And thank you, thank you, thank you for placing the original EWF September video for us all to see. AMAZING!

1.2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab." @1.2    11 months ago

Thanks. I am not necessarily a Taylor Swift fan ( I couldnt even name three of her songs , I don't think) but I thought the HuffPost piece about it was way out of line. 

The "cultural appropriation" thing has little merit, imo. 

I often listen to "cover" versions of songs. I like it when the performer is not that well known too. They are the ones that have the enthusiasm.

CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."
1.2.2  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."  replied to  JohnRussell @1.2.1    11 months ago

That is so smooth and musically sensual to the ears. Well done cover. I actually enjoyed it. Can you tell? I know the song too!

1.2.3  IceMan  replied to  JohnRussell @1.2.1    11 months ago

Very well done.

pat wilson
1.3  pat wilson  replied to  JohnRussell @1    11 months ago

I don't think it's cultural appropriation. Just a very bad decision to cover an iconic song and butcher it in the process.

2  bbl-1    11 months ago

Leave Swift alone. 

In the Trump era, Swift is doing just fine.  Refreshing actually.  Besides, Swift doesn't strip anything from anybody.  She shares everything.  A lot more than I can say for a lot of others.

charger 383
3  charger 383    11 months ago

Swift is good enough to sing anything she wants and do it great

4  Kavika     11 months ago

She's good to go as long as she stays away from the ''Last Waltz''...

CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."
5  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."    11 months ago

Taylor Swift has done an AMAZING job with this song. These great bands love it when others cover their songs! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is one of the most covered songs I know and its beautiful:

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Written by Larry HenleyJeff Silbar

Roger Whittaker - Wind Beneath My Wings (first release)

The Wind Beneath My Wings Album 1982

Lou Rawls - Wind Beneath My Wings

When the Night Comes Album 1983

Cover artists:

Sheena Easton  Lee Greenwood   Colleen Hewett   B.J. Thomas    Gladys Knight and The Pips   Lou Rawls    Gary Morris    Willie Nelson    Lena Martell    Marti Webb    Patti LaBelle

Menage    David Alexander    Irma Thomas    Betty Buckley    Perry Como    Cannon & Ball    Jack Jones    Bette Midler    Little Milton    Judy Collins    Brendan Bowyer

Joe Longthorne    Brenda Cochrane    Shirley Bassey    Richard Clayderman    The Starsound Orchestra    Bill Tarmey    Nana Mouskouri    The Countdown Singers

Michael Chapdelaine    Piet Veerman    Gerald Levert & Eddie Levert Sr.    The King's Singers    Kenny Rogers    Bluiett's Barbeque Band    David Essex    Captain & Tennille

Amanda Faith  Steven Houghton and many more!

5.1  IceMan  replied to  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab." @5    11 months ago

I like Lou Rawls version better as it much more upbeat.

CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."
5.1.1  CB "The Member Formerly Known as Calbab."  replied to  IceMan @5.1    11 months ago

I am so glad you took notice of Mr. Rawls' use of uptempo! I found a website that contains all the other listed (and some unlisted above) stupendous singers, groups, and performers of this worthy song in my comment. Unfortunately, it runs a curious disclosure statement across its top about it's "third-party sharing" and I do not feel comfortable to extend it to others (when I am not sure what they mean by it).

What an amazing song all around. Enough to give me a lump in my throat and. . . maybe 'melt' the ice glacier you stand on, my friend? HA!


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