Does Authenticity Trump Quality?

I have posted in the past that convenience trumps quality and of that I am sure.

But a confluence of moments today on my way to sun valley for a week of skiing make me wonder if authenticity also trumps quality.

It started when my friend andy forwarded his post on a rolling stones dvd from a show they did on the 1975 tour – the first with ron wood. That dvd is andy’s favorite live stones show even though his wife pointed out to him that the video quality stinks and the sound quality is equally bad.

Andy goes on to wonder if the advent of hd audio and video, home theaters, surround sound, etc will lead to a world where we cannot simply appreciate the raw power of a great artist(s) at work if it lacks the quality of a modern production.

I think not andy.

On the plane to salt lake I listened to my friend jason chervokas’ down in the flood.  I often go back to these amazing podcasts for long flights.  They are a great way to pass time when you have plenty of attention to give.

Most down in the flood podcasts feature recordings going back easily 100 years.  They are scratchy, weak, and lacking anything close to modern production values.

And yet the authenticity of the performances and the raw energy and joy of the music comes through loud and clear.

And then I opened the arts & leisure section of today’s new york times to find judy rosen’s piece on early 20th century pop music.  I am writing this on my sidekick on a short hop from salt lake to sun valley so I can’t go online and listen to the internet stream of Stella Mayhew’s "I’m looking for something to eat" which has been converted from wax cylinder to digital audio by the UC Santa Barabara along with another 6000 cylinders of early 20th century music.

Thank god someone is doing this.  We are talking history here.

Right before I got on the plane, my friend Pat sent me an email talking about a keith richards/chuck berry duo on Little Queenie he heard this morning doing chores around the house.  He was so pumped that he fired off an email to a couple buddies who could appreciate his joy.

I replied ‘ keith’s unique sound is etched on the face of rock and roll’.  This is indeed history we are talking about. 100 years from now they’ll be talking about Keith Richards the way Jody talks about Stella Mayhew in todays’ paper.

So I think authenticity, particularly the authentic works that artists build on, are always going to be valuable.

And I am dying to see Andy’s dvd and I don’t really care what the quality is as long as the performance lives up to his billing.

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