Sunday, February 2, 2014



"She was a working girl, down on her knees.  In her yard, working hard, punching holes in cheese."

--I Miss My Swiss

While I HAVE been traveling quite a bit the last few weeks, don't count me with the jet set crowd just yet.  I'm still a proud working class man with a working class income.  Chances are, if I'm in an airplane, I'm on my way to work.  I've paid my rent every month this year (woot!) but I can't afford to travel very far beyond my own state.  That said, I do have a mouth and two ears-- one and a half really-- and two very hungry eyes.  There are plenty of ways to "see" the world that don't involve an empty bank account and hours spent painful contorted in a sadistically designed airplane seat. 

I started collected music as a teenager.  Call me sentimental, but I love the human voice.  That said, as a general rule, I began my collection avoiding almost anything sung in English.  I didn't want "meaning" and "words" (and the space to criticize them) getting in the way of learning how to listen.  Plus, words don't matter much when it comes to music.  Not really.  Listen to any one of these tracks and you'll likely "get it" without needing to consult the liner notes.  It turns out we can speak to each other remarkably well without words (or the capacity to understanding them).

Every time I fly to LA I make a pit-stop at Amoeba.  Amoeba is one of the last (and largest) used-music stores in the United States.  On a typical trip, I run straight to the "World" bargain bin (occassionally "Folk" and "Gospel").  One album I found this trip, Rapa Iti, Part One (I already own Rapa Iti, Part Two), laments a sad fact: only a small fraction of the "Rapa" language survives-- 8% according to the liner notes.  For this reason, researchers failed to adequately translate 6 of the 15 songs on the album, including the song I chose for this mix, "Oparo", despite the fact that "Oparo" intentionally includes choreographed laughter.    

If you spot me driving down Sunset this week you'll likely catch me intensely mouthing the words to "Kukuru" or some other recent acquisition.

But then again, what's the point of hoarding music without the capacity to share

Here's a sample from this trip's haul:

Le Carnet A Spirale -- William Sheller
Domestication of goat to kid -- Doluma Lopsanchap
Vologodskie Chastushki "Pod Yazik" -- Kirilov Town vocal group
Kukuru -- Nawaka Entertainment Group
Semubu -- Taiwu Children's Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho
Jadikan Anak Asuh -- Nasida Ria from "Keadilan: Quasidah Music from Java"
Brunnematt Jodel -- Jodlerkub Giswil
Vous Êtes Lents -- Alain Souchon
Domestication of camel to calf -- Shimet Soyan
Chastushki Pod "Landukanje" (vocal imitation of musical instruments) -- Singers from Ivanovka Village
Pasti Akam Kembali -- Nasida Ria
En Prison Maintenant -- Marcel Martel
Can't Keep It Inside -- Benedict Cumberbatch (cause I watched August: Osage County in LA)
Khoomei -- Fedor Tau
Oh J'Cours Tout Seul -- William Sheller
Oparo -- The Tahitian Choir
Kizeliulan -- Taiwu Children's Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho
Yaim El Ouyoun El Soud -- Nazem El Ghazali
Triste es lo Ceu -- Miquela e lei Chapacans
Naigrish Na Kuviklakh -- Instrumental group from Foshevatovo Village
Oh Rambulan -- Dato Shake
Ballad De Jim -- Alain Souchon
Domestication of cow to calf -- Khuren Oorzhak
Jetzt Wemmer Eis Joedele -- Jodlerklub Giswil
Photos Souvenirs -- William Sheller
Sitima Levu -- Nawaka Entertainment Group
Domestication of sheep to lamb -- Doluma Lopsanchap
Naigrish (Call for the Cattle) -- Y. Khrulev
Pa Lju Lju Gna Vuvu -- Taiwu Children's Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho
I Miss My Swiss -- from "Odelong Songs of the Alps" (a Korean compilation of yodeling music.  This slightly raunchy number must have slipped past the translator). 
Fier Et Fou De Vous -- William Sheller
Lja Lje Saiyi -- Taiwu Children's Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho
All My Relations -- Ulali (Let's use this song as a replacement at Sochi?)


  1. The ability to communicate without words also plays a huge part in your life if you have a nonverbal autistic friend or relative. I suspect it's why a lot of autistic people have such an intense reaction to music -- it conveys emotion and information without putting additional stress on an overloaded sensory processing system.

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  3. Speaking of autism, I watched Temple Grandin on my flight to LA. So good! A real tear jerker. I really identify with her character a lot.

    1. Unsurprising -- as an artist, you'd have a natural tendency to process information visually like many autistic people do. Stephen Wiltshire, frex, is a British artist and autistic man who draws huge and amazingly detailed city skylines from memory (referring to the topic of this post, he listens to music when he works because it helps him focus). As for Dr. Grandin, she's done a hell of a lot to raise autism awareness, and Claire Danes did a stellar job of portraying her in the movie.

  4. hmmmm, some of these tracks are from indonesia and i myself don't even listen to those songs and now, idk it's very peaceful

  5. i listen to lisa gerard , the cocteau twins , hammock, ambient eno , harold budd , and opera fairly exclusively. words just get in the way.....

  6. I love that, as music lovers, we can all be so different in our tastes and habits, yet we're united in our passion for good music.
    As a writer, some song lyrics are so beautiful, they're poetry, but I have to read them separately. As a musician, when I'm listening to music, I don't hear the words, I'm hearing the components of the song - lead, rhythm, bass, drums, keyboards, violins, cellos, etc. - build together and complement each other to create a perfect work of art.

  7. If you ever find yourself in Claremont, CA, check out Rhino Records. New and Used Great staff and a huge selection. Independent Great place.