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 averyfineline.com. 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.Email this Post