Dave Godin and the Politics of the British Soul Community
Joe Street [+]
Dave Godin (1936-2004) was the single most influential individual involved in popularising African American popular music in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s. As such he needs no introduction. This chapter examines two closely related aspects of his thought about the meaning of soul music and the responsibilities of soul fans. Godin wrote extensively about his experiences as a fan and of his conviction that the music was closely related to the historic African American struggle for freedom and dignity. He argued throughout his life that a close relationship existed between supporting the music and supporting this struggle. He also firmly believed that, by buying their records, the British soul community helped to support African American artists, a position that stemmed from his understanding of the political economy of soul music production. The article reveals the relationship between Godin’s position regarding soul music and his deeply-held political opinions while also detailing how it led him into conflict with certain members of the Northern Soul community in the 1970s who prized rare records that he felt deserved wider distribution. It argues that for Godin, the soul community was an inclusive and supportive community for the artists as well as the fans, and the fans had a duty to the artists that went far beyond mere appreciation of their music.