Monday, October 24, 2011

Consider The Source(s)

Perhaps the greatest challenge or frustation for a historian is the lack of sources or the lack of definitive sources.  This is especially true in the area of pop culture like rock n' roll.  You'd think that there would be definitive biographies, release dates for records, tour itineraries, recording sessions, and the like.
But the fact is, in most cases, there isn't because no one felt that rock music or rock musicians would be around for more than a couple years.  They were the equivilant to the vaudeville animal act.  An documentation that is still around must be taken with a grain of salt.  Many a press release contain outright falsehoods - such as the initial press release by ATCO records for Buffalo Springfield that stated that the band was so poor it rehearsed by the side of the road and that's how they spotted the Buffalo-Springfield steamroller doing road work and that's how they came up with the name.  It's amazing to see how many teen magazines quoted that press release word for word in their initial coverage of the band.
So what's left for the rock n' roll  historian is scattered documentation tucked away by a band member or road crews, newspaper articles and trade publications that tell part of the story but it's up to us to piece it together.
Next up...I'll talk about some stories of how that's been done for my research into Poco.

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