Sunday night was an interesting night for Jack White. The multi-faceted musician, currently focusing his energy on his new band The Dead Weather, received and honorary patronage award from Trinity College's University Philosophical Society. At his acceptance ceremony, the singer/guitarist/drummer gave an impromptu lecture focusing on his musical beliefs, among other things. White's lecture is gaining attention -- in some people's minds (mine, especially) -- for a statement he made about musical authenticity, evoking Tom Waits and Bob Dylan in the same breath as Britney Spears.
|Jack White received an honorary patronage from Dublin's Trinity College's University Philosophical Society|
White stated, "I don't know if Tom Waits and Bob Dylan are as authentic as I think they are. Perhaps they're not."
The kicker to his comment came when he added, "Sometimes you start thinking that maybe Britney Spears or someone like that who's doing exactly what they want to do in the way that they best know how, is more authentic than any of those people you could mention."
White showed an impressive lucidity when it came to his philosophical beliefs, candidly speaking his mind about music and its influence. He's worked with an impressive list of contemporary musicians, Dylan being one of them. While Britney Spears may be absent from his collaboration list, his comment still evokes an interesting question about what makes music authentic. This is obviously a personal preference, with everyone choosing their own standard for what makes music appealing and authentic. White simply spoke his mind about the subject, and in doing so brought up an excellent point.
What makes music authentic? Does an artist like Dylan -- beloved and revered by fans old and young -- gain the label as authentic simply due to his influential career that has spanned so many decades? Or does an artist like Britney Spears, beloved in that same vein, albeit by a decidedly different group of fans, have an authenticity that Dylan or Tom Waits can't compete with? Perhaps the subject is too disparate -- too far apples and oranges -- to even debate, but the idea is still an intriguing one that deserves some attention.
My two cents about musical authenticity comes in the form of songwriting. Dylan writes his own songs, and that gives an instant authenticity to his music. Britney Spears doesn't exactly write her own songs, nor does she bother to actually sing them during live performances, choosing to often lip-sync. It is, however, all in how a certain listener construes a certain artist's music -- and that listener's definition of authenticity.
But you have to love Jack White mentioning Bob Dylan and Britney Spears in the same idea. That is absolute sacrilege to those devoted Dylan fans out there -- and I know you're out there. Perhaps White is just waxing poetic about this whole thing and he has no real point, but it's still an interesting and worthwhile topic for further debate.