Vern’s Venting: Can I be Black and Still Love Fleetwood Mac?


Fleetwood Mac

By Lavern Merriweather:

For years now, I have been getting a lot of flak from my siblings, because I listen to mostly white artists, particularly British rock bands from the 80’s like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. “Personal Jesus” is my favorite song, and I crank that sucker anytime that I play it, and I play it often.

Yet, when I play my music around other Negroes, I get some very funny looks. This is something that irks the hell out of me, because music above anything else is supposed to be universal. I have yet to see a purer form of entertainment that anybody can enjoy regardless of who makes it.

At the 1984 Olympics, soul singer Lionel Richie was in Los Angeles where the games were being held performing his hit song of the time “All Night Long”. I saw a sprinter from Taiwan, who probably didn’t know one word Lionel was singing, dancing his ass off. And that’s the beauty of music. It’s meant to be uplifting and make you feel good, humming or clapping to the beat.

However, somewhere along the way, black folks got it in their head that if you listen to anything besides tunes sung by fellow African-Americans, then you should be excommunicated from the race. While that sounds utterly ridiculous, it’s a notion that many blacks don’t seem apologetic about. For a group of people that allegedly hate to be treated like a monolith so damn much, we do a pretty good job of acting like we are one. Black people seem to think that we are one big glob of a brain like in that classic British film “Village of the Damned” starring George Sanders. Or that we should be some black version of the women in the town of Stepford.

Many Negroes have forgotten that some of the best most thrilling cuts back in the day came from white folks. My ultimate jam “Din Da Da” was made by a German guy named George Kranz. And the song “White Horse” was done by two white dudes from Sweden. Also the coolest love song “You Do for Love” was done by none other than Bobby Caldwell, who it turns out isn’t black after all. He and the Italian stud Gino Vanelli must have been in the running to see who could confuse us more about their racial make-up.

Since I am not the world’s biggest fan of rap or hip-hop, it’s my choice, not anybody else’s, what kind of music I happen to enjoy. Although I do like a few acts or songs. Rap music, as a whole, turns me off. And I swear someday I’m going to make a human piñata of all those high minded Negroes that constantly frame every conversation about black people around hip-hop as if that is the end all be all of our very existence or that every single solitary black person should be a fan.

First off, if you hate it so freaking much, then why are you so obsessed with it? Second, there are a million more things about the aspect of black life than just music. I could go on about that topic. However, I already have a post in the works about that. So, I’ll just stay on point. If we want to be treated like individuals, then we need to stop lumping each other into a neat little box of labels.

It’s not only regular folks either. Rocker Lenny Kravitz, who is the son of the late Roxie Roker from the CBS show “The Jeffersons”, has said in several interviews that he got a lot of heat from the black people he grew up with for the type of music that he plays. When the black hard rock band Living Colour had their one and only hit “Cult of Personality” in 1988, a bunch of white male music critics refused to take them seriously. Yet, these are the very same folks that get their panties all wet any time a white male comes along in a genre dominated by black folks such as rapper Eminem, who has had some semblance of staying power unlike other white rappers that have come and gone before him [hint hint].

Lenny Kravitz

That’s not to say I don’t like artists like Beyonce. I did grow up listening to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin and Earth Wind and Fire. Hell, any time I hear the Stevie song “Do I Do”, everybody better clear the floor for my dance time.

“Dancing Machine” is a staple of mine for the longest of times. So yes, I do also like black singers. However, my biggest joy is hearing screeching brash guitars mixed with killer drum lines while spiced up with the mad angry vocals of a Pat Benatar or Peter Gabriel. The thing that gets me the most is that my brother turned me on to those acts in the first place. He has a particular fondness for the British group Def Leppard which is why I brought him a greatest hits cd for his 36th birthday some years back. Yet, my brothers and sisters want to be all huffy because I didn’t stop my gravitation towards the same music that they were warbling along with back in the day?

I fondly recall many times hearing an REO Speedwagon song playing on the radio somewhere in my folks’ house, either that or it was the Chicago based band Styx. It didn’t hurt their appreciation from me that they are fellow Chi-towners.

We criticize white people for not being open minded enough about other races and cultures when we are guilty of that too. Granted, I did give grief to Paul Simon for his collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazzo. Yet, I knew who they were before his legendary hit album “Graceland” came out almost 30 years ago. We can’t make demands of white people or non-black folks if we aren’t willing to branch out of our own comfort zones. That still doesn’t get some white acts off the hook for their shameless exploitation of black people and our music styles like a certain son of a former TV star of a hit show on ABC from the 80’s that is now trying to absolve himself of the writing credits for his hit song “Blurred Lines” and trying to throw his Negro collaborator Pharrell Williams under the bus.

Robin Thicke

Pissants and jackasses aside, however, it doesn’t change my opinion. I don’t want to live in some stupid music bubble. Really, how foolish to believe that specific singers or songs are worth more than others simply because of race? That’s such a narrow minded perception. Yet, it’s one that black folks don’t seem to want to change. I’m not here to adjust your YouTube playlist, because I respect your right to listen to what you desire. All I say is that you should show that same exact courtesy to your fellow Negro brethren, even if their taste doesn’t always meet your approval. As a great man once said to each his own and stay away from my John Mellancamp collection


33 thoughts on “Vern’s Venting: Can I be Black and Still Love Fleetwood Mac?

  1. Mama Vern, whatever you’re comfortable listening to that is your decision, hell I even listen to French and Arabic artists, yes music is Universal. Did you know that blacks were the first to invent Rock? yes, we are, it is an offshoot of Jazz and Blues, two black genres while whites were still listening to Beethoven (who was half-black) and Mozart and so on…. Did you know that it was the moors who invented classical music? Another fun fact, did you know that artists the world over imitate BLACK artists and music? why do you think places like France and the Arab world have rappers and R&B singers, so never let anyone shame you for listening to what you like…

    1. I also heard that country music was also originated by Black folks.

      Like Vern, I listened to all types of music: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men, New Edition, Public Enemy, and a host of other artists of color. But I also loved British R&B singer Rick Astley (who everyone thought was Black until his video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” came out),Tears For Fears, Breathe, Simply Red, New Kids on the Block (who were basically a White version of New Edition with the same managers), Ambrosia, B52s, Debbie Gibson, Bananarama, Blondie, Madonna, Eurythmics, INXS, Human League, Roxette, George Michael, Michael McDonald (another artist people who had never seen thought was Black), Wham!, and many others.

      Bottom Line: Music is for everyone. Enjoy!

  2. If you looked at my current playlist you’d think I was some kinda old school hippie. Black people have been bullied into liking only Black people approved music. Fuck that – my father listened to everything and that rubbed off on me.

    1. Hey Jesus! What’s up brother? I know you’re usually up on all the new artists that are out there. Not sure if you’ve heard of the duo Lion Babe. I’ve heard a few songs by them. The female lead is Jillian Hervey. Better known as the daughter of singer/actress Vanessa Williams. She definitely has her mother’s looks. Check out the song and let me know what you think.

  3. Yeah I now what you mean Lavern. No one likes to be put in a box. I don’t think it’s wrong if you have different taste than other black people. I do think that music can be universal. It can make people jump up and dance,think about topics differently,see things from a unique perspective. Of course in my own my parents loved the Motown classics. Along with Stevie Wonder,Marvin Gaye,Aretha Franklin,Smokey Robinson,Jackson 5 etc. I loved that music but I was a part of the hip hop generation as well. My buddies and I listened to Public Enemy,LL Cool J,Run DMC,X Clan,Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane. But I remember in junior high I was dating with girl that liked different music. She was really pretty but my buddies said she acted “too white” for them. I will admit many of her friends were white but I didn’t care,I liked her anyway. But she was into these groups I never heard of like AC/DC,Jon Bon Jovi,Warrant,Van Halen,Duran Duran,Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears. She would let me listen to her Walkman at lunch time. Over time I learned to appreciate a lot of these artists. And I got her into rap artists like MC Lyte,KRS ONE,Queen Latifah and Salt N Pepa. It was cool that we could share our different taste in music because we genuinely liked and respected each other. She ended up moving out of the city at the end of the year. It was a painful break up. I remember being really depressed. ne of her favorite groups was The Bangles. Every time I hear that song Eternal Flame,I think about her.

    It’s still a great song. Does liking this song make me less black? I don’t think so. Like I said,music is universal right?

  4. During the 80’s there were a few white artists that black people gave props too. There were some blue-eyed soul artsis like Hall & Oates. Of course Teena Marie was labeled the white queen of r&b. But Teena sang from the soul and and didn’t come off fake and contrived like white artists today. That’s why black people loved her so much. But I can’t stand Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake. They think they’re so cool but they’re as transparent as Saran Wrap. They lack real soul and depth,you can tell it’s all an act to steal black culture and fool black people. It’s like they’re doing blackface for 2014. I would take George Michael over Thicke or Timberfake anyday.

    I used to love this song! Is it me or was music better in the 80″s?

  5. I can attest that I have it in for some black folks who have these alternative tastes in music but I can also tell you they are some self hating negroes whom I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire regardless of their playlist. I know they black republicans. Bitches.

    All of you here more than make up for it with your time, effort & understanding in correlation to the plight of black people worldwide. Although… If Franky Bebbley/Beverly & Maze; Earth, Wind & Fire ain’t played at the reunion or family gathering I doubt we friends.

    I know our people invented all forms of music so like any & everything else they stole, I don’t care to see/hear the bootleg when the original is out there; right here. Rock, R&B, Jazz, Rap all white washed but so is crack, brown rice & brown sugar. I could never knock no African, his ear & choice. THIS is naturally within us. We don’t find the rhythm the rhythm finds us.

    A lot of yall mentions I remember as a kid too. Staying up all night for one Michael Jackson video that never came. Guess what was playing in the meantime between time?

  6. this is definitely a both a need post and long overdue.
    I have five categories of music that I use to organize and label the different genres of music I listen to.
    They are Rock Rap RnB Disco And NeWwave
    Rock And NeWwave are predominately but not exclusively white-american
    Rap RnB And Disco are predominately but not exclusively african american.

    Sometimes when I read a article by say abagond or theres a racist news event I sometimes question my predominately white american categories.
    I feel maybe I shouldn’t listen to “those” songs.
    I feel similarly when I listen to some rap songs that sound good but have a lot negative words like n,b, etc

    I was listening to a npr show on classical music and one of the persons being interviewed commented on how much of classical music was old dead white men.

    And also after watching a episode of 60 minutes which had a segment on country I later surmised that classical is predominately upper class white whereas country is working class ,and while I don’t particularly care for either genres , I do have a few country songs In my rock category-folder and if Ennio Morricone can be considered classical then I have a few classical ,however on review I think instrumental would be a better definition, and I have quite a few tv show and cartoon theme songs as well.
    batman ,spiderman ,opps forgot to add superman to my collection as well.

    In conclusion I think its both reasonable to listen to any and all music and prefer what you like as well as question the percentage and distribution of any particular genre as well as the actual content of songs.

  7. I love, love, love all those artists that you (all) named as well-for years I have gotten grief for being a POC that listens “alternative music”, only to have those some naysayers wind uP listening the same artists years later! Lols

  8. I can’t judge people on taste of art in music. I love listening to oldies in hiphop, anime opening, techno,r&b,jazz,gospel,underground and kpop. I try to avoid new age mainstream music in rap area. Due to the negative poison oozing out like tainted soul for profit. My cousins try to force me to dance or listen new stuff. I don’t want hear music me being a Nigga,bitch or their yearn for a chick to become Hollywood ideal beauty queen.

  9. I am a huge Adele fan i was feeling Gaga for a minuet she is very talented but here lately she has kind of fell off for me. I loved all the artist from the 80’s that did punk and new wave. Variety is the spice of life. I know that’s cliche’ but so what one shouldn’t be judged and criticized because they want something different.

  10. I check out Kushite Prince’s video of Jillian Hervey’s Lion Babe she sorta sounds like Eryka Badu. She’s not too bad.

  11. I think this is a little deeper than you think. Due to the appropriation of black culture, sounds, beats, rythem, and music it’s looked at as why support people who clearly stole what was ours and made far more money than we ever would. People like Eminem, Elvis, vanilla Ice and pretty much every pop star out there, has taken what was ours and castrated it into a white washed commercial sybolence of what is was when it was our, without paying homage to any of our people who are at the root of most all music played today. I also think for blacks it’s that we are so inclusive and whites are not. The protests of k Michelle or Beyoncé by country music fans, how much you want to bet if a black person showed up to an Elvis Presley’s concert he may not have walked out there alive, a white person a a James brown concert would haven’t gotten a second look. Throughout history White people have used their white privilidge to insert, infect, and appropriate what ever they wanted with out consequence and this privilidge had never been afforded to blacks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s