Commercially, the blues has for half a century been a junior partner to rock and soul and other genres that grew from it and now command far bigger audiences. Because it’s now assumed that the blues can’t compete in the marketplace and has primarily retrospective value as the source of other music and as a repository of African American cultural history, it’s increasingly treated like an endangered species. Cultural institutions set out to preserve it under glass. Such serious, respectful attention to the blues as a foundational American tradition is overdue, but it’s not a formula for a living popular genre to grow and change.
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