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ART HISTORY HAS long maintained a church and state–style separation between naive, unsophisticated work by so-called outsider artists and work whose construction and style are unmistakably savvy and sociable. Henry Darger, the Chicago janitor who spent his downtime secretly making obsessive paintings, is a good example of the consequence of these distinctions, remaining an honored guest of the art world rather than a bona fide star.

In rock music, this prejudice is reversed: The outsider is the ultimate insider. Rock’s history has been one of constant reinvention by artists too crazy or ignorant to understand the rules, and its canon is top-heavy with the music of weirdos, drug addicts, and idiots savants. Young musicians who aren’t inherently out of their minds go to great lengths to cultivate Beverly Hillbilly–like personas and create the impression that their only influences are

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