Fake Music History Rocks: NPR


The Final Revival of Opal and Neff, by Downey Walton
The Final Revival of Opal and Neff, by Downey Walton

I learned from all the fuss about The final revival of Opal and Nev It’s a fictional work of first-time novelist Donnie Walton. But after I started her book, I had to stop and check again to make sure this wasn’t a true account of the real-life rock duo from the 1970s. Such is how authentic this bizarre novel is, as it is composed, as it were, of a mess of fictional interviews, footnotes, talk-show transcripts, letters, and editor’s notes.

To say that The final revival of Opal and Nev It is a sly simulation of the oral history of rock that is to acknowledge only the achievements of this novel’s most obvious. Walton aspires to more in this five-decade story of music, race, and family secrets. And all of the attractive and fast-changing styles of narration do not distract from the emotional core of their story. I tell you, even a lot of the fake margins in this novel are moving.

hypothesis The final revival of Opal and Nev It is this: In 2015, a journalist called “Sunny” Curtis became the first African-American editor of a magazine. Rolling rock Write a journal. Sunny decided her first movie would be a book-length interview with Joel Opal and Neve Charles. The two are an interracial rock duo that hit him hard in the early 1970s and immortalized by a photo they took after a racist riot broke out at one of their shows. Then, Opal, an African-American, is naturally bald, and was hailed, in the prime of her life, as a “intergalactic whore” along the lines of Tina Turner And the Mary Clayton He briefly became a symbol of a villain and then faded from view; Neff, who is white and British, has gone on to enjoy a long career.

Sunny’s interest, especially in the Opal story, turns out to be a personal one. Her father, Jimmy Curtis, was a drummer who had an affair with Opal. He was killed during that infamous concert when fighting broke out between audience members and Hell’s Angels fans from a southern fried rock group called The Bond Brothers who were also performing that night. The Bond brothers were waving the Confederate flag around the scenes and Opal who was tired of putting the flag under her dress and “Old Dixie” tie was, as she put it, “the last place he’s coming … he’s – her.” As soon as Odal Opal took to the stage, the racist harassment escalated for The Bond Brothers fans and Opal flipped her outfit, she says, “They can all see … exactly what I was thinking about them and all their hate.” If you know your rock history, the mess it creates sounds a lot like the 1969 Rolling Stones’ party in Altamont.

Sunny collects the tale of that pivotal ceremony – and the shameful secret that has been hidden at its core for decades – through interviews with a chorus of characters: ranging from one of the remaining Bond brothers to the now 70-year-old – an elderly woman who worked as a receptionist at Opal’s Old Records and Nive Records. Walton clearly has a blast here at giving distinct voices and backgrounds to the crowd that fills this novel, but Opal is the one that casts everyone in a backup role. Here she talks to Sunny about growing up in Detroit in the 1960s:

Let me stop you before you ask the inevitable question. Because even with you, I know it’s close – there really is a polka dot on the tip of your tongue – so maybe I’m answering it now. You journalists would have told me this all the time: “The Opal Gem, what gave you these extra things –Normal Confidence? “… I understand what people are really trying to ask me is this:“ How in the world does a woman who is so black and so ugly come to believe that she can be someone? ”

At the end of that interview, older Opal told Sunny that with all the cards piled up against her, she realized she had nothing to lose or, as she put it: “There was no getaway anywhere, by being so damn Normal“.

The final revival of Opal and Nev In itself it is anything but “normal”. By diving deeply into the recent past, she’s also managed at the same time to be ruminating on updated topics such as cultural appropriation in music, and the limits of the White Alliance. It’s the kind of overwhelming narration that, like the polyphonic double album of the day, readers may want to experiment more than once to let all the notes plunge into.

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