Posts from 11th July 2004

Jul 04

Early Music Reviews

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Early Music Reviews (it’s long, I’m sorry)

I got this site off of Last Plane to Jakarta, and have been listening to it all morning. The idea of historic sound being only 100 years old, the idea of John Phillip Sousa to John Cage seems so alien to me, and the idea of pop as religion (it is what ritualizes and makes appropriate our most obvious passages) is even more so.

What made this kind of experience so ubiquitous in the last 100 years?

Also, aside from historical interest, some of the sounds here are wonderful.:


The Semper Fi in the Marches is sufficiently violent

Comedy Sketches

The Edison Minsterlies Minstrel Potpourri (is this the only MP3 of minstrel shows we have on the web?)–combines low comedy and high art in a way that no one assumes, it is a story of African American liberation (the ending song “Way Up In the Sky”) and degradation (the concept of Black Face)

Murray K Hill’s Vaudeville Nonsense is music hall, sublime for no reason but its verbal dexterity (it is nonsense, but very important, very socially relevant nonsense)

English-Anglo Folk Songs

Lonesome Road Blues.

One of those road songs that sounds like the Carter Family, or anything collected by Harry Smith, but in a good , solid, reedy, cheerful to prevent sadness kind of way. Has all of the lovesickness and prison-redemption expected from country for the rest of its history, sort of an antecedent, but also makes me wonder, all the other lonely road songs that come from this tradition a way to explain a new vastness ?

He Was Nailed to the Cross for Me–Ernest V. Stoneman and his Dixie mountaineers

Sounds like a barndance song, same joviality–which oddly makes the whole thing seem less bloody and less didactic. American Music always conflated ‘church music’ and ‘dance music’, it wasn’t a gift from rock and roll (rock and roll’s gift was that they did it at the same time)

Documentary Recordings

Big Ben Clock Tower rings at half past 10, quarter to 11 and 11.

Noise. Scratchy Vinyl, then 6 bells, silence, scratchy vinyl, then 4 bells, then 11. Someone should sample this into some kind of avant hip hop thing, cause its that odd. Suspense rises, then falls, then rises then falls–there is a need to see how many bells.

Jazz Blues and Dance Bands

St Louis Blues–

This is done on the Hawaiian Guitar, I have no idea why, but it does add a sort of exotic melancholia to Handy’s blues-by-numbers. I remember reading a bunch on early jazz and blues earlier this year and hearing that the guitar had been used from the 1920s to the 1950s with immense frequency and that it developed into the contemporary steel guitar, that gave birth to bluegrass–I can see that here. I wonder its history.

Songs from foreign Countries.

Ok, Edison recorded everything…we know that now. But who knew that he loved America so much, that he loved its Finnish, Quebeqois, Yugoslovakian, Cuban, Polish, and Jewish instruments. All are represented here.

Assin Jukka Ja Harmaan Haat–Otto Pyykkonen

It sounds a little silly sometimes, but there is the catch there. The tune is simple enough for everyone to hum along with (and I have been), but it hangs on what could be called a pop hook–is pop music folk music with an army ?

Au Les Avant Non Gens- Charles Marchand – basse ; Ernest Patience – au piano

Half way through this, so excited by the dancing, and the drinking he shouts Wee!, and soon after that it becomes a duet between a logger in a falsetto and one in a baritone. Its like I’m a Lumberjack, by Monty Python done straight and in French.

Poetry, Short Stories, Readings.

In de Mornin’ & Jes Gib him one of Mine

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s reputation has been renovated from nothing more then a kind of minstrel, sometimes literally (he wrote for them) and figuratively (the words are the same) then to an innovative engager in African American Dialect, even though this is done thoroughly in the first tradition, you can see where Ishmael Reed and company find a fatherland in Dunbar’s language.

Popular Songs and Tin Pan Alley

Jere Sanford’s Yodelling and whistling specialty.

The thing with yodelling is that it does not go high and long at first, think of any mountain range, you need to begin with the foot hills, soft and slow at first, then more undulant and rolling, growing higher as you move longer into the song–the whole point of the yodel is the climax. Here Stanford is a tease, any of the balls out yodelling we expect is replaced with very clever whistling.

I’ve been thinking some more

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I’ve been thinking some more about the whole issue of player agents.

A friend who works in football said ‘why would a club pay a player’s agent?’ I thought about this, and the only answer I could come up with was because its easier to say yes and pay them, lest they lose the player. Just like its easier to say yes and agree unsustainable wages, because at some level, it’s ceased to be seen as real money. (yeah yeah, real money, symbolic exchange to thread etc) It’s more like monopoly money, or perhaps more properly, football tokens.

I’m not saying that everyone has a devil-may-care, bugger tomorrow attitude, but if the hard reality of treating the money as finite and spending it wisely is at one end of the spectrum, then the sad fact that many just don’t do it suggests that at the other end there’s an attitude which sees the entire game as, well, a game. The people making the decisions – if they’re executives – are handsomely rewarded comparative to the turnover. Sometimes a board will sanction the spending, but it’s often the bank’s money. Who cares if goes wrong? The Board will be out of there like a shot leaving the mess to be cleared up by someone else. The more messy, the more debt-ridden, the more likely that someone else will the Supporters’ Trust.

But spending money to pay for someone working for someone with whom you’re negotiating is really no more ridiculous than betting the house on a single player, spending 200% of turnover on wages or borrowing 60M over 25 to fund a few player purchases. Indeed, so weird are many practices within the game that after a time, I suspect people have become inured to them and shrug their shoulders. After a bit, they’ve stopped asking hard questions, raising puzzled eyebrows at contractual demands and instead laugh in a conspiratorial way. Isn’t that the real meaning of being a good football man?

This moral ambivalence and acceptance of another world with different mores and practices reminds me of nothing than the Mafia as revealed in Goodfellas (or even better, in the book the film was based on – Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi), especially as described in Tom Bower’s Broken Dreams.

In the Mafia, the phrase for passing tributes to everyone involved in a deal was called ‘wetting your beak’ According to Bower, Ron Atkinson used to say ‘will I get a good drink out of this?’. A good football man knows how to reward his friends, knows where to spread the largesse, and crucially, knows to keep his mouth shut when journalists or the authorities ask questions. An agent might cause a player to leave your club, but you don’t rat him out to the FA. You might want to use him to steal one of their guys later on. Just like the Columbo family might be furious that the Bonnano family pulled off a lucrative job, they won’t call the cops.

He’s a good fella, the good football man. The GFM also knows how to keep the press and TV guys sweet through denying access and granting ‘exclusives’. It’s not the same as having judges and cops on the payroll, but the effect is the same.

It’s a money-go-round, with people apparently getting some form of kickbacks from everyone else. The only people who don’t get a kickback are the people who provide the money – the fans. But whilst we are the little guy at the bottom, we bear some responsibility.

There’s no violence underpinning this system to enforce discipline and so there’s another reason it carries on. Many fans, I suspect, wouldn’t mind the club giving a kickback if it helped secure the services of a great player they thought might make a difference. I suspect like many people working in the game, the issue is the level of the kickback. They don’t mind agent’s fees as long as they’re not too excessive. It’s a matter of degree, not principle, which irks.

But how do you find a ‘realistic’ level for something that’s irrational and unnecessary? A truly British compromise – throw the agents to the wall in a populist hue and cry. Yes, many are disreputable, greedy and dishonest. Just like many of their clients and many of their paymasters.

Germans Flagging

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Germans Flagging

Whilst watching Italy play Sweden in Euro 2004, several TMFD writers pondered the relationship between flags and national team strips. In a fit of procrasturbation, here’s the answers to those questions:

Why do Germany play in white and black?
White and black were the colours of Prussia, the dominant force in the Empire, so given that Germnany first played a game in 1908, it seems reasonable to assume this was a key factor in the choice. More interesting though is…

Why was the German second strip (until 2002) green?
The only answer I can find on the interweb says it was because of the Republic or Ireland. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the new West German side found it difficult to arrange matches. The first country to oblige were the Irish, and the German FA chose the second strip colour in their honour. It’s a wonderful story, and the only thing that gets in the way of this heartwarming story of peace and tolerance through the magic of football is that is it complete bollocks.

The real answer is because the colours of the German FA are green and white. No more, no less. And why are those colours green and white? I suspect because football is played on grass, which is green, and uses white markings. The Irish angle is something of a German urban myth and in Germany, when the rational explanation conflicts with the mythical one, print the rational explanation.

Why do England play in white and blue, when the St George cross is white and red?
The FA say that’s it’s because blue is on the FA crest and so it’s an official FA colour. I don’t find this satisfying at all, especially given that red is also on that FA crest. Until someone can say otherwise more convincingly, I’ll take it as a traditional conflation of England and the UK, and the prevalance of blue in the Union Flag. So there.

And finally, on a related note, the Freaky Trigger party also asked why there’s orange in the Irish tricolour. We were right.

Jeff Smith “The Frugal Gourmet ” Dies

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Jeff Smith “The Frugal Gourmet ” Dies