Monthly Archives: December 2009

Jeanine’s Dream

I’ve been following the wonderful unpacking of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music at The Old, Weird America, and the project is now up to #31, the Cajun number “La Danseuse” by Delma Lachney & Blind Uncle Gaspard. Usually the compiler (gadaya, “a young french guy who loves to mentally travel through time and space by listening to some records”) provides variants of each tune, but he notes for #31 that he had found none. As I listened to the original, I immediately thought of “Jeanine’s Dream” from the out-of-print Stampfel and Weber LP Going Nowhere Fast (1981) and sure enough it’s the same tune: first bit. The lyrics (by Antonia) are wonderful, and not readily available:

In a trunk on the attic floor
The record lay 40 years or more
‘Til Jeanine came to poke about
In the attic she pulled it out
She decided to let it play
Unplayed music will waste away
So it spun on the old machine
It put her feet in a dancing dream
She was Queen of the Ball
Her surroundings fell away
And she danced in a fairy carnival
Out of lost time

The record player was turned up loud
As she danced with the fairy crowd
A mean old grandma who lived next door
Heard the racket and called the law
The record player was still turned high
When the new rookie cop came by
Jeanine came dancin’ up to the door
She let him in and she danced some more
First he stared as she danced
Then the music that was playing caught him in its spell
And so he danced with her

Grandma came in and hollered “Stop!
This crazy music and crazy cop!”
But Jeanine didn’t seem to hear
Then the music caught Grandma’s ear
She remembered those bygone days
And how she danced while the fiddle played
So she left them and went to bed
With the tune playing in her head
And she danced in her dreams
With her husband one more time
And the record he had bought for her
Spun on ’til dawn

see a Robert Christgau piece (1999) and Wikipedia on The Holy Modal Rounders for more background; the truly obsessed will seek out the DVD The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose

The Technium

It’ll take 3:50 of your time to watch this from Kevin Kelly:

This interests me on several dimensions: as a mode of presentation (obviously, if EVERYthing was in this format it would get old fast… but it does focus the mind if it’s novel, and the visual effects do nudge one to hear the message more clearly than if it’s just spoken, or just straight text), for its content (some of his assertions are arguable –but which ones for you? And it’s short enough to be an effective stimulus material for teaching, a good model), for its potential remixability (wouldn’t it be FUN to have a class pick out particular segments to expand upon, annotate, produce new remixes of? What’s the technology package necessary to do that?)

(via Phillip Torrone, who chooses the last 30 seconds for his focused attention… but I view it in the context of my current reading of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, about which I’ll have stuff to write real soon now.)

links for 2009-12-13

Rana Dasgupta

Christopher Lydon’s perennially fascinating Radio Open Source is doing a series of programs on India, well worth your attention even [maybe especially] if the Indian Subcontinent isn’t your usual territory. This bit of comparative analysis by Rana Dasgupta is typical of the richness:

America is a society of systems: there should be nothing that eludes the state – with systems of policing, control, regulation. That is clearly not the case in India. Indians accept that things cannot be systematized, that there is inherent chaos, that you don’t have to understand your neighbor, that he may live an incredibly different life from yours, but that’s not a problem. The incredible ramshackle bric-a-brac nature of Indian cities, where slums are next to high rises, is not felt to be a great shock. The face that people hack into electricity systems to run their slums is treated with wry humor by middle class Indians…

I suspect these things will play out to Indians’ advantage, because Indians will be much more comfortable in the US than Americans will be in India. And at a time when the new major economic growth prospects are in countries that look more like India than they do like America, Indians will be an incredibly mobile and flexible work population… Even being very wealthy they are quite comfortable living in a house that runs out of water quite often, and runs out of electricity. They’re able to go into weird places in central Asia and Africa and feel quite okay, knowing how things operate… (30 minutes into the program)

links for 2009-12-09

Mark Rubin totally rocks

Here’s Part Two of the totally absorbing profile of Mark Rubin that I pointed to Part One of a couple of weeks ago. I’ve just bought Fat Man and Little Boy and just looooove it. As Mark says,

I have a feeling that in every town in America there’s ten or twenty dudes that would really like what we’re doing. And if I could just get my record to those guys and if I could just hit the road every once in a while and just play for those guys, I would be completely thrilled, that would be all that I require. I’m real proud of it, and I’m just so happy and edified to see that other people like it as much as I do.

A gander at the video below will tell you if you are or aren’t one of the ten or twenty dudes. I am for sure:

Some audio experiments

Thinking about what to do with audio, I remembered that I’d uploaded some stuff to The Internet Archive a couple of years ago. The items turn out to be pretty interesting to re-encounter, and suggest that I should do more along these lines:

A couple of experiments I did in 2005, using an MP3 recorder to capture what was on mind mind as I walked to work: 16 March 2005 (just under 4 minutes) and 25 March 2005 (just over 4 minutes)
…and On Musical Variety (17:50) constructed in late 2004 as a come-on for a course in World Music (taught at Washington & Lee in Winter 2005)
…and Charlie Skinner tells a story (1:17)