Andrew Lloyd Webber is the old white man who wrote Cats, the zany musical that took Broadway by storm in the early '80s. T.S. Eliot is the dead old white man who wrote The Waste Land and at least one poem that uses the n-word without apparent irony. According to Webber, Eliot invented rap music.
Webber claimed rap for the modernist hero in an interview with the Associated Press about an upcoming Cats revival. (The play was based on Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.):
Lloyd Webber said he was making the character of Rum Tum Tugger a rapping street cat because "I've come to the conclusion that ... maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap."
"The thing about the Eliot verse is that you can tell he's American. Nobody other than Eliot would have written 'The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat,'" the composer said.
A rapping street cat, you say? By jove, that sounds delightful! Maybe some of Eliot's other classic characters — like the "disgusting dirty" black people who populate his "King Bolo" poems, or the "undesirable" "free-thinking Jews" of "After Strange Gods" — will show up as well.
[h/t The Wire, image via AP]