I Thought My Music Player Was Broken
Thursday: George Wilson, our grandson, has written about the music that a 26-year-old is following. I asked him, and he came through, overnight. His comment is around 23rd in the queue. GV
Ever since the pandemic began – seems like decades – I had been mourning the music I stashed on my beloved MiniDisc Recorder and Player.
Something was wrong – not batteries, not one bad diskette, but serious mechanical stuff, or so I thought.
My music. For some people, music is the heartbeat of life, the faithful companion, in our ear, as we exercise or daydream.
The MiniDisc allows some obsessive types to download and program favorite songs, favorite concertos – (I plead guilty.)
Bad enough my wife and I have not dared see friends or go into the City. But no MiniDisc library, either?
I was told via the Sony support site that this device from 1998 was neither being manufactured nor repaired – the story of our throwaway times.
But the other day, I gave it a try, and for some obscure reason, when I popped in two new AA batteries and a trial disk, programmed by moi, familiar sounds flooded into the taut little headset, and my ears.
A miracle cure.
This meant, first of all, that I could re-visit treasures I had recorded live from the radio, back in the day –particularly treasures from Peter Fornatale’s weekend show on WFUV-FM. Pete is gone now; he was a friend and neighbor, and we used to take walks together along Bar Beach, and he would talk about thematic shows he was preparing:
*- One entire two-hour Sunday show about flying – including, of course, Arlo Guthrie’s classic, Coming Into Los Angeles.
*-- Another two-hour special all about the Sunday papers -- including Adam Carroll’s homage to Blondie and Dagwood, that eternally married couple, with loving tribute to hard-working Blondie (“You’re looking pretty good for a girl of 82.”)
* -- Plus two entire hours of “Ladies Love the Beatles,” – with Pete lavishly lingering over the title. The highlight, a cover of “All My Loving,” (linked here), by the great Christine Lavin. (Pete introduced us, and that wise, generous troubadour is still out there on the hustings.)
I know there are other sources of music. I've got pop and classical music on my iPod, but have no clue about more recent sources.
The joy of the MiniDisc is that you can be your own disk jockey, on your own whim or wisdom. In my little shoebox of sound I have gift disks programmed by Laura from Upstate, including a classic by Keb Mo’ – “More Than One Way Home” – listen to me, play this once a day, for your health -- and from Kathleen in Texas, a collection including “La Bamba,” by the real Ritchie Valens.
So now, by some miracle cure from the great deity of out-of-supply MiniDiscs, on a warm Presidents’ Day, I went for a walk and chose a diskette I had programmed a few decades back:
1- Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes by Taj Mahal.
2- Room Off the Street by Suzanne Vega.
3- Fanette, with Shawn Elliott, from original “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well. (evoking memories of the late 60s when my wife drove into the Village for a Sunday matinee.)
4- Estate, Susannah McCorkle, the late polylingual singer-writer, about gloomy endless Summer (“Estate,” Italian for “Summer.”)
5- Along the Verdigris, Tom Paxton and Iris Dement. I was writing a feature about the latest album by the Oklahoma-born folk singer, and he and his wife Midge delivered the cassette, and I was touched by this song, plus the backup by an unforgettably piercing voice. “You don’t know Iris DeMent?” they asked.
6- “Sweet Is the Melody,” by Iris DeMent, from Paragould, Ark. her ode to a dance hall, “A Friday-night romance, forgetting the bad stuff and just feeling good.”
7- “Like Everyone She Knows.” James Taylor.
8 –“Talk About It.” Anna and Kate McGarrigle. Another weekend/dance song. (I’m still mourning Kate.)
9 –“I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with Bonnie (3 Grammys) Raitt, and Bruce Hornsby, memorably.
10 – “Twenty-Third Street,” by Bill Morrissey, with his raspy voice, a man in a bar missing a woman who is living somewhere uptown.
11 – “I Will Always Love You,” by Dolly Parton. When I first saw her, backstage at the Opry, she was a shy mountain girl, still singing with Porter Waggoner. The legend is, she wrote this about moving on from Waggoner. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Dolly aces all the other versions.
12- “Last Man on Earth,” by Loudon Wainwright. A declaration of manhood.
13– “The Scent of Your Cologne.” By Christine Lavin – on an elevator, catching a whiff of the fragrance used by her late, adored father. (On Christine’s “Shining My Flashlight on the Moon” album.)
14- “Raglan Road,” by Roger Daltrey and the Chieftains – about the pangs of love in Belfast, during the Time of Troubles. (You could also find a classical-sounding version by the great Loreena McKennitt, Irish-Canadian.)
15 – “Forever Young,” Bob Dylan and the Band. The Thanksgiving ritual.
I know, I know, there are more contemporary ways to program music -- including my iPod with thousands of classical and folk, samba and soul. But that collection has been swallowed up in the mysteries of Apple Music, so no way for me to edit. Whatever. I'm now back in business with all those disks, two decades old, containing Dvorak, Britten, Stevie Wonder, Bocelli, Loretta Lynn. Grateful Dead.
No matter what comes down…outwalk the pandemic....put one foot in front of the other.
My overnight thought: Do the people a favor and put Keb Mo' right here, one click away.
2/21/2023 02:20:42 pm
Hi George. As we used to say at the movies “this is where I came in.” Our first conversation was about our mutual love for Ry Cooder’s “ Chavez Ravine.” Do you have it on minidisc?
2/21/2023 02:51:30 pm
2/21/2023 03:46:03 pm
There is something sacrilegious about throwing out an old electronic device. I have a bunch of reel-to-reel tapes that must be over sixty years old. This was before I was married and I taped Cynthia Gooding Sunday mornings on WBAI when it was still an interesting station. She had an hour program with whomever was appearing that week at the original Gerdie’s Folk City at Forth and Mercer Streets. I got to hear all the up and coming folk singers up close and even had time to talk with them.
2/21/2023 06:34:43 pm
Alan, you went to Lehigh. You have more technical skills than I do.
2/21/2023 03:53:35 pm
2/21/2023 06:39:54 pm
Altenir, thanks. I had not graduated to samba level when I used diskettes, but my IPod is loaded with Jobim-Veloso-Ellis ever since John Schaeffer, New York's eclectic radio wizard, turned me on to Morelenbaum2-Sakamoto and "Casa." Plus, I have a friend in Brazil who teaches me stuff. Muito obrigado. GV
2/21/2023 04:21:13 pm
2/21/2023 06:50:50 pm
Ed, Got my limits, too. I barely knew the music on the Grammys 10 days ago...except Raitt and Stevie Wonder...but I enjoyed watching people hop around. Conversely, I remember when country musicians vetoed drums, saxophones, etc --"that aint country" -- but there was wonderful picking -- guitars, mandolin, bass, plus piano -- back in the day. My positive country snobbery goes back to Loretta's guys...and backstage at the Opry. That said, I love so many other sounds, too. GV
2/21/2023 07:08:56 pm
I have some of my own personal stories about the benefits of music helping us through the pandemic. Jazz at Lincoln Center did some virtual shows, as did Smoke Jazz and Supper Club - my personal favorite. The accessibility of many of the performers by E-mail made for some memorable - for me - thank you note to them.
2/22/2023 10:20:19 am
Andy, thanks for the tips. Nothing like live music, from my decades on the road. We saw some good stuff recently on PBS -- forget the names, but a wise drummer holding the concert together with his luminous smile and eye signals. GV
2/22/2023 07:44:16 am
2/22/2023 10:26:57 am
Randy, haven't seen your name in a while. Welcome.You mention Covid. It does mess with the mind. Vinyl is a whole 'nother world. I've got three cardboard boxes in my studio closet -- going back to my father-in-law's classic and jazz, and then my stuff from the 50s on -- Belafonte, Victoria de los Angeles, My Son the Folk Singer, Emmylou Harris. Eclectic? I play some Joe Williams/Basie or Catalan stuff from the 92 Olympics. Hope my old Fischer turntable holds up. I hear a grand-daughter has a new turntable. She gets her pick....Vinyl Lives! GV
2/22/2023 09:29:47 am
2/22/2023 10:34:11 am
Bruce, did you catch m plug for your fellow Canadian Loreena McKennitt, with her red hair and Irish soul. Check out her "Nights From the Alhambra," from the heart of Spain, classical backing -- even better on DVD.. The Beatles had an ear for classical, so did guru George Martin. Who can forget "Hard Day;s Night? ("He;s very clean!") GV
2/22/2023 10:52:25 am
2/22/2023 06:57:33 pm
Bruce, that movie made me a Beatles fan. I was a mostly-pop listener but then a DJ I admired, named William B, Williams, denounced the Beatles as a gimmick on his live mid-day show, and broke their vinyl record on the air. That didn't sound like him -- so my wife and I went to see "Hard Day's Night" tosee what annoyed Wm B. They were great, and so was their music...Very clean. GV
2/22/2023 10:25:45 pm
Here's the sound of my family rolling its collective eyes about "A Hard Day's Night," a phrase reputably uttered by Ringo after what most folks (other'n reporters trying to meet deadline)'d call a "hard day's work." Paul, maybe with John's help, jotted the title song in an instant, but other lines that have made their way into my family's common exchanges:
George, you should make this a regular feature. Every couple of months, throw out 10 songs and artists. There is always delight in seeing an artist or song held dear, but also exploring someone else's musical "tree" and the degrees of connection. I was most delighted to see Bill Morrissey. A fabulous, somewhat tragic artist, whose voice rasped in the lower pitches but cleared up in the higher ones. Many of his songs make you wonder if that's the liquor talking, in a good sense. My eyes were opened when I bought the CD "Friend of Mine', with Morrissey and Greg Brown (the artist that prompted me to buy it). "Fishing With Bill" is just a delightful song, available on youtube. The great Iowan folkie (plus other styles) Greg Brown is married to Iris DeMent, who collaborated with John Prine on "In Spite of Ourselves," who in turn toured with Bonnie Raitt through Louisville years ago. And Keb Mo is playing at the Lexington Opera House in two weeks. A veritable chorus. Love it!
2/22/2023 07:08:34 pm
Tad, thanks for that chain. I was really late on appreciating John Prine I liked his "Paradise, Kentucky" (It touched my anger about the destruction in Appalachia) and I also liked his version of "My Old Kentucy Home," but I didn't really get into his music until Covid got him, 2020. My fault. Morrissey? Our daughter Laura gave me a CD and she isn't sure why....she just liked him. The cover on Greg Brown's work is terrific...funny, the links you point out....Iris...Raitt...birds of a feather. I appreciate your suggestion about occasional music schmooze. I look forward to an occasional music blog by a lawyer, Lonnie Shalton, in KC, MO. Very connected to Black music and other parts of the culture.I will keep your suggestion in mind
2/22/2023 05:01:17 pm
As a 10-year-old living in Washington Heights at 190th Street and Fort Washington Avenue, twelve blocks above the George Washington Bridge, the family would listen to the radio on Saturday nights. B&W TV came out a few years later, but there was so little programing available in the beginning.
2/22/2023 06:03:37 pm
I agree Alan, but there are some common threads here as I see it: People who express human concern, kindness, who enjoy the “gang” often known only online, intelligence, and your son, and a few of us older guys grew up listening to jazz in NYC, and from Symphony Sid- I saw him broadcasting from Birdland. Heard George Shearing play his composition, Lullaby of Birdland.
2/25/2023 12:31:27 pm
One of the perks of running a family retail appliance business on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was all the interesting customers.
2/25/2023 10:04:19 pm
Thanks, George of the third generation! I'll have a listen!
2/26/2023 07:15:20 am
Alan and Ed,
2/26/2023 03:34:11 pm
Haiku for Horn
2/26/2023 08:28:38 pm
Very cool, Ed.
2/26/2023 09:35:45 pm
2/28/2023 08:14:23 pm
Randolph, I was catching Peggy up with this conversation about Sonny Rollins and your response. She told me about an event at Sonny’s concert at the Smithsonian.
2/22/2023 07:12:04 pm
2/23/2023 03:01:26 pm
2/24/2023 06:31:30 am
Hi George Wilson,
2/23/2023 03:48:19 pm
This does not fall under the category of long-lost music, but is from the historical past of old, possibly “ancient” laptops. One of the things that I’m not called, but probably should be, is “squirrel”. It is almost a mortal sin to throw things away.
2/26/2023 08:33:14 pm
2/26/2023 11:11:53 pm
Bruce, I learned about Haiku from an unusual source, Time magazine.
2/28/2023 07:51:51 am
Ed: Name dropper!
2/28/2023 07:09:38 pm
2/28/2023 01:54:20 pm
I agree with so much that's been said in this thread already. A nice community here and a love of music really fosters that, no matter how much individual tastes diverge. A few thoughts:
2/28/2023 03:38:14 pm
Josh, I have lots of vinyl going back to Bop days, Bird on small size, 10” and also Stan Getz, and More. If you name a jazz great, we probably have a record, Peggy loves jazz and we dated to it in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Phillipsburgh, NJ, Atlantic City, and, oh yes, NY.
2/28/2023 06:29:51 pm
Ed; Newport vinyl album. Joe Williams introducing the band. Last name: "Clark.....TERRY!"
2/28/2023 03:56:54 pm
George, It was at the Human Resources Center, Albertson, LI.
2/28/2023 07:35:55 pm
3/1/2023 12:09:27 pm
3/1/2023 12:21:00 pm
3/1/2023 07:02:08 pm
3/2/2023 06:16:22 am
3/2/2023 04:58:49 pm
Randolph, My book, (as the Car Talk Hosts, the Milozzi Bros. said, “Shameless Commerce Division), was a memoir, federal policy, legislative back stage, with a blurb from President Carter.
3/3/2023 09:00:50 am
3/3/2023 05:40:46 pm
Randolph, I really admire your service, working with students with E.D, youngsters may be the hardest special ed assignment. I assume it was within the BOCES structure in NY.
3/7/2023 12:22:44 pm
GV, Gang, Here is my thought about best candidate, Gretchen Whitmer, proven record, governing and electability.
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.