So, Taylor Swift with no promotion released a single which was a cover of Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” and social media went berserk. It was as if this were the epitome of cultural appropriation and Ms. Swift had committed the ultimate faux pas. The mere concept that she would have the nerve to do a song, which somehow became retroactively the new Black National Anthem, the moment Taylor Swift hit her first note.
There’s a few people not mad at her; Allee Willis, one of the song’s co-writers, gave her seal of approval which probably has nothing to do with the royalties she’ll get paid if the song is a hit. Phillip Bailey, EWF’s lead singer, liked the song, he said, “Music is free like that,” adding, “Ain’t Got Nothing But Love For Ya #freedomin music.”
Taylor Swift first earned the ire of the black community when she won the 2009 VMA’s “Best Female Video Award” which Kanye West promptly snatched and said Beyonce should have won for “Single Ladies” and Swift didn’t deserve it. While Kanye had a point, Taylor Swift became the poster girl for white woman victim hood and every accomplishment she’s had since has the taint of white privilege in the minds of many. The record must reflect she allegedly lied years later about Kanye West’s approving her use of lyrics written by West in another song. Regarding, “September,” Swift changed the lyrics of one line from the original, “the 21st night of September,” to, “the 28th.” Surely she must be hanged for that.
The uproar has been going on for days and I finally got around to listening to the song. It’s not going to be in my play list, I won’t be purchasing or even downloading the song so I can sneak and listen to it when nobody’s looking. But it was a nice, sweet, song, that she sang well. It was slower, used acoustic guitar instead of the EWF horn section, but it was nice.
Musicians have been singing songs that cross culture since the beginning of music. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis and others sang black music their whole careers. Ray Charles sang a country song or two. Prince did a country song originally written for and performed by Bonnie Raitt (I Can’t Make U Love Me) and nobody seems to mind as long as the money;s straight. Assuming the writer’s get their due, I just don’t see the harm in Taylor Swift doing a version of a song that remains beautiful no matter who sang it. As long as she never touches Frankie Beverly and Maze… we’re good.