This article considers questions of authenticity in two versions of Doug Sahm's “Chicano”: Sahm's original, recorded with the Sir Douglas Band in 1973, and Rumel Fuentes's 1976 cover version. Some critics and listeners considered Sahm's original, written from a first-person Chicano perspective, a gaffe, since Sahm was in fact not Chicano; however, employing Allan Moore's notion of authenticity as authentication, I argue that Fuentes's cover version is at once an endorsement of Sahm's original and an authentication of it. To do so, I begin by elaborating Moore's three-part typology of authenticity, and how this typology recasts authenticity as authentication. I then place Sahm's appropriation of a Chicano identity within a longer history of racial crossing in American popular music before providing historical context for each artist, and for each version of the song. Finally, by discussing the two versions in terms of Moore's typology, I argue that the cover authenticates the original through what Moore calls second-person authenticity, which he describes as a validation of the listener's experience.
Él Es Chicano?: Authenticity and Authentication in Two Versions of Doug Sahm's “Chicano”1
Richard Cruz Davila, Ph.D., is a researcher with the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University. His research traces the history of Latina/os in U.S. popular music, specifically the dispersion of Texas-Mexican music into Michigan and the Midwest through patterns of Tejano labor migration from the 1940s onward, as well as the history of Latina/os in U.S. punk scenes from the 1970s to the present, with a geographical focus on Los Angeles and Chicago.
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Richard Cruz Davila; Él Es Chicano?: Authenticity and Authentication in Two Versions of Doug Sahm's “Chicano”. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 December 2019; 31 (4): 73–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.31.4.73
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