…Why am I not surprised.
I’m still ruminating on a review of Marcus’ latest (much of which, as I’ve repeatedly written, I liked).
Meanwhile I came across this (while researching a link between Maria McKee and Patty Loveless…the internet is a very strange place).
Summarizing for those who don’t want to read the whole thing (which I do recommend as a valuable insight into the “standard rock narrative” echo chamber): It’s a lengthy essay on the Girl Group ethos (in which Marcus first conveniently limits the form to his own preconceptions, then repeats–or perhaps invents…it’s from 1975–the canard that this consummate singers’ music is “producers’ music”….and must be, because the singers are, well, girls). And he concludes with this:
Is there something that will wrap up the social, political, and sexual meaning of girl group rock? I’m not sure there is. Every time I try to draw a lesson from these wonderful records, it seems to defraud them, to be beside the point. At least, my points are beside theirs. What do they all come to? I don’t know.
But I do know this. If you listen to the Shangri-Las’ “I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” cut in 1965, you will find that the lead singer’s voice, from its tone to its phrasing, exactly matches, down to the most subtle inflection, the voice of Patty Hearst, on the tapes she made with the SLA.
(Source: Greil Marcus: “Girl Groups: How the Other Half Lived,” The Village Voice, September 8, 1975)
I confess I had never heard the Patty Hearst tapes before. So I followed the link (which I’ve re-created below) and…..
I’ve heard them now.
From its tone to its phrasing, it is as far removed from “the lead singer’s voice” (i.e., Mary Weiss) as two members of the same species can be.
To get this…
…is to truly “defraud” oneself.
Not to mention others.
I mean, what Marcus is essentially saying here is that the great “girl group” singers (a phrase nearly all of them detest, in part because it feeds the logic animating a piece like this one) were on a spiritual plane with a brainwashed hostage of a terror group.
That’s not just stupid, it’s vile.
I know I’ve been coming back to these themes a lot lately and I do plan to move on (if the world and the internet will let me!)