Archive for October, 2006

How I missed out on Smithsonian-Folkways on emusic.com

October 31, 2006

Mountain Music of Peru Music of Indonesia

I can’t believe how long I have been on emusic and never bothered to check out Folkways. I guess I owe it to a bit of prejudice left over from my more punk days towards all things nostalgically american.

Well, I was wrong, dead wrong.

What I have been realizing recently is that the term “folk” is frustratingly broad. It includes everything from the vapid sentimentality of modern singer/”songwriters”, to the enraptured, feminine flitter of John Jacob Niles and even further to the rustic moans and chants of the herdsmen of Kyrgyzstan.

That is pretty damn broad.

An Untamed Sense of Control John Jacob Niles

It was the last example there that I was most ignorant of. When I saw the folk in the Folkways name, I immediately thought of trust-fund hippies. This is in part due to my aforementioned prejudice, but also due to the fact that the deeper reaches that “folk” encapsulates are ill represented at best in our current culture. While what does get represented is by far the most boring of the lot. I won’t get into the multi-layered corporate politics that got us here. What I will say though, is we have been missing out… big time.

While I have known this for some time, what I did not know, was that Folkways has been trying it’s damnedest to expose us to all of the great alternatives to our current state of boredom, and have been doing it for some time. I guess the “folk” just got in my way.

On emusic, Folkways has a ton of interesting records, from early american blues to railroad songs, to Indonesian guitar music. If you are not a member, I’d suggest getting a basic subscription just do get all of these records, let alone the massive amount of other music available.

An overview of Folkways on emusic is available here.

First post agony, and the soothing effects of a trancendental indian jam.

October 30, 2006

I have been agonizing about the first post on this blog for about a week now. It’s lame, I know, but I wanted it to be a good one, and represent the tone of the blog well, but after some thought I realized that the point of doing this (for me) was the opposite of that. I don’t want to impose rules on myself here, I want to post whatever is catching my mind at this point, so here we go.

Who knew you could have you mind blown for only 25 cents?

I have been frequenting thrift shops for many years. Most of that time, spent looking for clothes or gadgets or furniture, but for a long time overlooking the very large amount of cheap music they almost always offer. Sure a lot of it is crap, but there are gems, it just depends for what, and how you look.

As for me, I am generally looking for either, the very strange, a record I know and love, or music that looks new and adventurous. To that end, I will almost always give a record of ethnic music a shot. For the price you just can’t go wrong. So when I found a copy of “Dances & Chants of India”, I was naturally, all over it.

I don’t remember much about most of the record, but one track in particular, practically knocked me over when it came streaming out of my speakers. The magnificent “Krishna Ni Begane Baaro”, performed by Dr. K. J. Yesudas and composed by Vyasarayar. From the opening drones and the first notes of the overwhelmed and intoxicated melody, I knew it was all over, but when Yesudas began his song, in his world weary, but joyous and hopeful tones i was completely arrested.

Dr. K. J. Yesudas in concert Dr. K. J. Yesudas

The way Yesudas sings this song, you can hear the way he feels in evey vocal nuance, bolstered by beautiful instrumentation. I wish I could find more music like this. It seems whenever I look for it I just end up finding bollywood-esque stuff which is far less interesting.

After listening to this song repeatedly and with increasing joy, I had to know more about it. It turns out the spelling on the record I have is not correct. However, with some searching I found the right one and some really informative results. For the most part, I was looking for song lyrics, and hopefully an english translation as I was having a very difficult time getting it out of my head. naturally I was psyched to find this.

Reading the lyrics and understanding their cultural implications thanks to the write-up below (on that page) only served to reconfirm for me how amazing this song is.

So here it is, ENJOY!


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