Saturday, August 13, 2022

On The Guardian: "‘Better late than never’: how Brian Eno and David Byrne finally laid a musical ghost to rest"

Check this out, on the eternally-relevant My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, from my favorite liberal British news -site.

Not as interesting as if, say, they had reinstated "Qu'ran," but OK, cool.

What's funny though is that every time this album comes again to the attention of the musical moment (and it seems to return every decade or so, like cicadas or the Sunspot Maximum), the terms "cultural imperialism," or "cultural appropriation" seem to come up as well, with Byrne and Eno all too willing to play the cheerful but guilty pilferers for whichever journalist it is rolling the tape this time around.

And good for Dunya Younes, I'm glad she's pleased with the way it turned out, and I sure as fuck want to see her get paid, but for me, as a white American dude living at the ass end of a subtropical peninsula, at the ass end of a period of global domination, I have to say that the only reason I even care about the music being stolen is the identity of the thieves.

Again, I want artists to get paid, but for me, as a fan of whiteboys like myself but with guitars, to pretend that Lebanese "mountain singing" as they called it but really Beirut pop, matters at all to me would be fairly disingenuous. I care about the sounds because they were selected by Eno (and to a lesser extent, Byrne). They are important to me not because they were recorded in 1972 Lebanon, but because they were appropriated in 1979 London.

And I seriously don't think there's anything wrong in admitting that.

So I sure as fuck don't feel guilty about it, and I don't think Eno or Byrne should, either.

Associated with a post on the same album I wrote in 2012