Pretending to be Legends

In fighting outside your weight class news – A recent Variety article brought news that pop-country performer Taylor Swift would be portraying folk music legend Joni Mitchell in an upcoming movie  adaptation of Sheila Weller’s book “Girls Like Us.” Soon after that I read that pop-folk/pop-country performer Jewel will portray country music legend June Carter Cash in an upcoming Lifetime television movie. Yesterday I saw that Loretta Lynn had announced from the stage of Nashville’s Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium, that she had asked actress and pop-folk performer Zooey Deschanel to portray hey in ‘Coal Miner’s’ musical.

This is like casting Keanu Reeves to play the Buddha oh wait, that happened.

This news reminded me of when I heard that Jack White was appearing with Jimmy Page and The Edge in the movie “It Might Get Loud.” What the hell is he doing at THAT table?”

Here are performers that, despite sales, are clearly punching above their weight class. It’s a classic “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” moment except  that instead of acknowledging these lightweights for what they are they are handed a job they are clearly undeserving of.

All due respect to Ms. Loretta, The choice of Deschanel , just like the choices of Swift, Jewel and White before them, is a choice of marketing potential, not musical qualifications. The decision to cast these cultural pee-wees has nothing to do with equivalent talent, it’s about demographic crossover and  getting viewers. As a lover of music, great lasting music, I don’t use the same criteria for assessment for placement in these roles. I immediately evaluate these performers on their work and my conclusion is “no way.” They don’t deserve the instant gravitas to their career that comes with portraying legends clearly out of their league. I have an idea, how about actually writing music that get’s you that cred instead of just playing one on TV.

But that takes a level of musical genius that none of these people possess.