Authenticity is like porn . . .

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. . . in that one might think one knows it when one sees it.

Yuval Taylor, a Chicago Review Press editor I interviewed for the Reader's spring books issue regarding his interest in groupie memoirs, has another project he's been working on for a long time: Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music, a collaboration with British writer Hugh Barker to be published February 1 by W.W. Norton.

For me the concepts of "authenticity" and "popular music" hit each other at a strange angle, "authenticity" being one of those slippery words that doesn't need too many repetitions to lose all meaning and "popular music," from creation to production to marketing to distribution, being a matter of infinitely many constantly changing calculations. Popular music's main claim to authenticity is the undeniable existence of its massive industry, which is "authentic" in much the same way Hollywood is. It's a self-perpetuating machine that works best when its "content providers" are acting at peak inspiration level but is perfectly capable of cranking merrily along when they're not.

Am I saying there shouldn't be a book about it? On the contrary--you sure can't talk about it in 25 words or less. 

 

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