Ron wrote:No, I'm saying that his music is independent of the crimes he committed.
Art without context is meaningless. Sure, you could study art and gain a limited appreciation of it, but until you understand the artist's biography, the political climate of the time, etc., you won't truly understand everything that went into it. For example, how could you truly understand and appreciate jazz without understanding the influences that slavery had on its creation?
In the world of theater nowadays, you learn method acting, where you draw upon your own experiences, emotions, history to create a compelling vision on stage. Your history, who you are, is an essential part of your art. And that seems to go for all art ... Van Gogh's mental illness colored his work, F. Scott Fitzgerald's constant benders and depression show up in "The Great Gatsby."
I think it's sad, but this dark streak tends to turn up in a lot of artists. The crimes Reed committed represent a part of his personality and inevitably, part of who he is an artist. I think, though, Faulkner says it more strongly (and a helluva lot darker):
William Faulkner wrote:An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.