Oxford American‘s 7th music issue and the accompanying CD will hit newsstands soon. The press release promises a tune from the late Zora Neale Hurston (author of Their Eyes Were Watching God). And there’s some love for Al Green, Loretta Lynn, Bessie Smith, Dale Hawkins, the Wilburn brothers, Moondog, and many other Southern musicians. Follow the link if you’re curious.
But best of all: Arthur Kempton endeavors to set the record straight on Erma Franklin, Aretha’s fabulously talented older sister. Although she’s now forgotten, the elder Franklin composed and perfected “Piece of My Heart” — a song later appropriated, performance style and all, and released by Janis Joplin.
Kempton joins some friends of mine in arguing:
It would be hard to compare the song’s two versions without concluding that Joplin was an unmusical screamer who clumsily aped the black style and the debaser of work original to someone who was her better.