SN reviews, another view

A mountain out of a molehill? So says David Bruce Murray himself of my comments on the SN editing his review to soften his take on the McKameys latest project (and he suggests I’m an opportunistic flip-flopper to boot).


As I recall, you were a lot more easy going than me a couple of years ago when Daywind fabricated a quote out of thin air on your behalf and used it in a Singing News ad. I’d have been pretty hot if something like that had happened to me, but I think you said something to the effect that it didn’t really bother you, because it more or less reflected something you might have said anyway.

I’ve written for hire before, and this sort of thing can be routine. Editors edit, and they have their reasons. I’m not upset over the McKameys edit, mainly because I have my blog where I can point out any significant changes of this sort that take place.

To the credit of Singing News, they have allowed some less harsh statements to stand in the two previous reviews I’ve submitted. For example, I complained that Allison Speer is content to sing other people’s music. With the Cumberland Quartet, I mentioned that their tracks weren’t particularly unique. Even with the McKameys, they left in the words “vein popping.” I don’t think there’s a crusade to cut every negative comment from the reviews like some people are saying.

I prefer to give credit where credit is due, and not make a mountain out of a molehill. I’ve had three reviews published in Singing News at this point in time, and I have no complaints whatsoever about the way they handled the first two.

Credit where credit is due indeed. I guess DBM missed the multiple times I’ve sent shouts out to the boys in Boone (and Nashville) for the improvement the SN has made in the last 18 months or so. Short memory. Or, rather, selective memory, for he dredges up a long-ago and seemingly similar incident involving a quote of mine and some Daywind ad copy to suggest some kind of flip flop. But I’m afraid it doesn’t wash – for the very reason DBM points out: the botched edit didn’t change my underlying meaning. As I said at the time “I guess I’d be more upset if I had been misquoted as saying something like “I hate Mom and Apple Pie.” As it is, though, I do think MM’s project is among the best I own, as I was misquoted saying, even though I never said that.”

For the record, time has only made me wish I had said MM’s debut project was among the best I own. But no matter. DBM’s’ words and meaning did get changed, and I don’t know why he isn’t more upset. Why take the time to listen to and write a serious review about an album if he’s ok with having the meaning of his conclusion (arguably the most important part of a review) changed without his permission? Because, evidently, even though he meant to say something significantly different than what is attributed to him in a magazine read by a few hundred thousand people, he can say what he really meant on his blog, read by … well, not anywhere near that many people. Uhm, ok.

But we’re not only about snark here at There’s a larger issue at stake here: will the SN publish responsibly critical reviews that model for its large (and perhaps even growing) readership how to think with a degree of honesty and candor about music?

In his original conclusion, DBM was not at all harsh on the McKameys. He didn’t gush all over them, true. But he was pretty generous all the same. This would seem like the perfect opportunity to introduce a bit (just a wee bit) of genuine criticism in SN reviews (a moderate move toward real reviewing that could have built on earlier but passing remarks on Allison Durham Speer’s song selection and on the Cumberland Quartet’s unoriginal material). But instead of seeing this as a way to build incrementally toward more serious reviews (which would make it a part of what I’ve commented on before: a larger movement afoot at the magazine to rethink some old styles and ways), the SN reacted instinctively. The SN is pretty clearly trying to cultivate new instincts (why else bring new voices into the magazine?). It’s going to be a lot harder to make any headway in this direction, though, if the new voices are more or less content to have the newness rewritten right out of their copy.

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  1. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I never implied you hadn’t given the Singing News credit in the past when they did something positive. I was simply speaking for myself.

    I AM unhappy the review was changed. If I didn’t mind at all, I’d have never said anything about it. However, some people seem to be upset that I’m not vehement…popping mad…outraged. Well, I’m not. And it puts me in a weird situation for people to say I ought to be mad when I fully expected an edit of this sort to happen sooner or later and fully planned to react precisely the way I did, by revealing the change on my blog.

    Should I get angry and stop writing reviews for Singing News over this, in your opinion?

    Or should I suggest they implement some sort of grading system so the writer’s opinion will be more clearly conveyed in the future in spite of edits, which is precisely what I have done?

    I’m more interested in having a hand in improving their reviews than in washing my hands of them. I have a tiny financial interest in continuing to write reviews, of course, since they do pay me a bit for my services, but more fundamentally, I want to see the trends that have started at Singing News to continue. That’s why I give credit where it’s due for what they’ve done so far and I have a hope that they’ll be more open for more honest reviews in the future.

    By the way, whether or not you agreed with that Daywind ad is irrelevant. They MADE UP a quote and stuck your name on it. Why weren’t you mad? This is precisely what you’re asking me, which is why I dredged it up. See my point, and I’ll see yours.

  2. Charles Brady wrote:

    Well I think that xxxxx- xxxxxx- edit xxxxx- xxxxx- snip—- xxxxxxx– cut——edit xxxx- xxxxxxx- xxxxxx-……….. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. TLS wrote:

    Here is a review that might be written and how it might be changed. (Tongue in cheek)

    The newest recording by Bubba and Ethel had my ears ringing. I thought for a second that I was stuck in hell (like the SNL sketch with Paul Simon stuck in an elavator hearing “elavator music” versions of his hits.)
    I heard dogs howling in the neighborhood. I had blood out of my ears dripping down my cheeks and the lack of pitch made me cry.
    It took away my desire to ever hear SG again. My neighbors came over and asked for the CD so they could destroy it. You wouldn’t want to give this CD to your worst enemy.

    The songs were dreadful, but the singing and band even worse. If people think this of when they think Southern Gospel, the industry as we know it will cease to exist.

    The new edited version:

    The newest recording by Bubba and Ethel was music to my ears. It took me to other worlds. Even the animals in the neighborhood showed their excitement for this project. I had tears trickling down my cheeks. I didn’t want to hear anything else. My neighbors came over and practically demanded the CD. They thought it was smashing.
    I wouldn’t ever want to part with it to anyone.

    The songs were the highpoint of this project and stood out from the rest. This project will give a new definition of what Southern Gospel is and is likely to radically change the industry as we know it.

    [i]I was going to put my user name here, but don’t want banned from the SN boards. I did leave my email addy so Doug knows how it is, and I used my initials so that those who know me might know who it is. :-)[/i]

  4. RSM wrote:

    I thoroughly enjoyed TLS tongue and cheek review! Thanks

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