Is Creedence Clearwater Revival's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" Cultural Appropriation?
As an alternative to X/Twitter, this past July I joined a new online platform born in February 2023. It's called Spoutible and in a lot of ways it's very different from Elon Musk's misadventure. Spoutible owner, Christopher Bouzy - a very successful African-American entrepreneur - has created a safe haven where members (spoutees) can post their opinions (spouts) away from the frequently hateful place Tesla's owner has allowed X to become. Many spoutees' political beliefs lean heavily to the left-of-center, but Mr. Bouzy readily allows opposing viewpoints as long as all parties discuss their differences respectfully.
My favorite thing about this alternative social media site is that it has no algorithim. Members create their own by interacting with other members, spouting, and following people you believe fit your interests and personality. It works very well. In just a few months I've acquired 1,325 followers compared to X where I've only managed 127 followers since joining it in 2012.
Spoutible features a lot of music. It's the primary reason I became a participant, but recently a member became very disenchanted with someone who posted a video of Creedence Clearwater Revival's eleven minute version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine."Even though I couldn't find the original offending post or the apparently less than polite negative reaction to it, I decided to respond. It took six spouts threaded together to make my point due to the platform's 300 character limit - compared to X's 280 - and below I've adapted and expanded on what I originally wrote to better fit the blog format.
"Cultural Appropriation" is often defined as a dominant culture taking something from another culture and then exploiting its use for their own benefit.
I'm not naive enough to believe that the art and culture of oppressed groups have never been used inappropriately by people who are holding them down, but to quote John Lennon, "Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it." While he was refering to the business side of the art form, if you read his words within the context of the interview he was giving it's also easy to interpret that Lennon believed it's acceptable for anyone to enjoy and make use of art created by others if the user's intentions are good.
There is another side to this issue. What if a recording artist from a dominant culture refused to perform songs by a minority because they considered the smaller group's artistic endeavors to be inferior. Isn't that far worse?
Rap/hip-hop aside, my CD/record collection is loaded with R&B, jazz and blues, much of it by African-Americans. I've always appreciated what they've contributed to American music. I expect to love a lot more of their work in the future, and I have a Visa card in my wallet ready and waiting when I do.