One of my favourite things to do, is obsess over music.
Particularly, I like to trace it through time. I love finding the original recording of something that’s been covered, and then finding ALL the covers, observing how the tempo and melody changed through time, and how it changed when it was borrowed and translated by another region. I love playing “spot the James Brown sample” too.
Sometimes it’s easy, but it’s even more fun when it’s difficult. Hours spent in the library, on music aficionado sites & blogs, reading articles about artists & historians, tracking down obscure recordings, or trying to find original recording dates, to know where things go in the chronology.
It’s the old music that really sucks me in. I get really excited about it.
It has feelings of “on the hunt”, somewhere between predatory and obsessive. The missing pieces stand out to me, and ask to be found, and every “discovery” as I go along is a little thrill of it’s own. It’s sort of like finding buried treasure. Sometimes when I get really down into it, it’s totally visceral/somatic, like how a cat rubs it’s gums on things it likes.
At the end, the huge satisfaction of having and knowing this stuff, is less about the nerdery of the collection itself, and more about the window it creates. When I find this stuff – it feels like I’m cracking open the Universe. Like I’m outside of my own time, and looking through some cosmic window, and seeing the music like it’s a PERSON, and that person is totally immortal.
When I find the really obscure ones, (especially if it’s a “common folk” one, and not a polished/studio recording), then, it’s not just the music that is immortal; I become intensely aware of the voice singing it, and/or the hands playing the instruments. Those people have been immortalized by this recording. Ones like: a miner’s daughter singing an otherwise lost variation of a song that was popular at the time. She had no idea that 80 years from then, someone would be listening to her voice, wondering who she was.
And, I become aware of how fortunate I am to be living in this time – when we are not so far away from these old recordings, and they are still accessible and identifiable. I think about 80 more years in the future, and wonder how to preserve these buried treasures, and how the music sleuths of the future will look back on what is recorded today.
This section of my site is dedicated to the music sleuthing that I do in my spare time. Back in the day, it was hard to track down music, and nearly impossible if you didn’t know what exactly to look for. Nowadays, wikipedia is usually a good place to start, and it will at least give you a good springboard, and if your google-fu is strong, you will find some gems with a bit of patience.
I won’t be hosting any music here, but I will link to places where you might hear what I’m referencing, and I’ll always link to the super-cool articles that I’ve found. I’ll periodically check to see if those links are still live… if you find dead ones, let me know.
Misirlou – You probably know if from Pulp Fiction, but it’s much older than that.