Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Novo Domovina

Out with the old, in with the new.  As years go anyway, the Top 100 2010 is not yet done, not until February at least. I just made top 10 #55 for the year 2010, reflecting some of the music I listened to right before and after the switch of years, also reflecting the last music bought in 2010 and the first in 2011, and reflecting some sappy music that provided the soundtrack to seasonal happiness (as it happens only once a year.) Plus a reproduction of the first painting made in this brand new year and some statistical updates on the rapidly appearing deadline for this annual project.
  1. Les Poppys – Non, non, rien n’a change     —The festive season is always good to play the hits from one’s memory lane. This one by the French teen choir Les Poppys was a giant number one in Holland for many weeks when I was about eight, I remember the TopPop clip vividly. My brother, who is a bit older than me, bought the 7 incher, passed it on to my sister before it became mine to keep. The Peter part from Peter van Boekel was crossed out, Annemie written underneath, crossed out again and replaced with Berry (and it’s been like that ever since 1980).
  2. Focus – Hocus Pocus      —Sentiment, sentiment, sentiment. Sentiments galore this past week but there will be no music from my native Holland this year despite really rockin' out on the Tee Set and Focus (with these great guitar licks by our own guitar hero Jan Akkerman and emblematic flute sounds by Thijs van Leer.) No Haagse Biet, no Golden Earring, no nothing.
  3. The Doors – Light My Fire      —Hits don't get much bigger than this... What should I say: I could mention that according to Ray Manzarek (who came up with the intro that would epitomize a generation) the theme is loosely based on My Favorite Things in the version from John Coltrane. And that, dear friends would be my favorite track ever. It is my #1 of the continued Top 100 list with great distance.
  4. Aymara Indians of Bolivia – Quenita      —Pretty much every single record released by Folkways is exquisite. Looking through their catalog is mouthwatering. These days the Smithsonian Library of Congress is re-releasing quite a few on CD but to release all of them, clearly, would be commercial suicide. Thank God the Smithsonian is not a commercial institution. I have no idea if Instruments and Music of Bolivia from 1962 was ever re-released on CD but it certainly should be. 
  5. Jimmy Peters and the Ring Dance Singers – J'ai Fait Tous le Tour du Pays      —The last purchase of 2010 was a CD from Alan Lomax Collection called Cajun & Creole Music II: 1934/1937 from the Classic Louisiana Recordings series released by Rounder Records. The recordings show, among other things, the country roots of urban Zydeco/Cajun music. There are no instruments on the CD, just singing and clapping. Jimmy Peters is for me the only familiar singer on the CD: The Top 100 2001 featured the song Les Haricots Sont Pas Sale! (the beans aren't salted) or Zydeco Sont Pas Sale. It gave a name to a new style of music.
  6. Bob Dylan – Behind Here Lies Nothin'      —I got a coupon in the mail and spent it on Bob Dylan’s new (2009) Together Through Life deluxe edition box set. I do kinda collect Bob Dylan but the coupon made me buy it. Honest.
  7. Hank Williams – Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals       —This one’s pretty sappy, tucked into the Bob Dylan CD set above as part of Dylan’s radio show Theme Time Radio with a theme related to friends and neighbors. I already had a copy of the song as it appears on Luke The Drifter (the original LP). It’s not a Talking Blues but a Talking Country and, according to Bob Dylan, as moralistic as it is a gem, like every song on the Luke the Drifter album.
  8. Carole King – You’ve Got a Friend      —Almost as sappy as the one above this one is also from the same Dylan radio show as the one above. I already had the original vinyl as well (from Tapestry, everybody has that one, right?) The most important LP from the early 70s according to Dylan. I can second that, as far as playing it at the Holidays at least. Even Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours sounds like the classic it once was when you’re in the right mood and 'tis the right season.
  9. Singing Francine – Love is the Ansaw      is the newest single in my still growing collection purchased for $1.98 at Half Price Books. A calypso recorded in Trinidad, distributed through Straker, a tiny little Brooklyn based label. Growing up we had our own Singing Francine (I hear she still sings): Happy New Year Dear.
  10. Fadimoutou Wallet Inamoud - Kidal      —I can't promote the blog Awesome Tapes from Africa enough. The newest entry concerning a Tuareg tape from Mali is again super awesome: "Hypnotic, minimalist (and hard to find)"
    Pere Tumbas-Hajo
    11.25" x 5.25"
    oil on wood, 2011
I’m real pleased with this painting, the first one done in the new year. Because the painting’s supposed to represent a solo performance, I removed (did not paint) the supporting players behind ‘tamburitza’ legend Pere Tumbas-Hajo (1891-1967) and a woman (a singer, a dancer, his wife? I don’t know.) The group already was smaller on the photo than it normally would have been as it was taken on his one and only international tour —to Wales.) Without the support of his band Tumbas-Hajo himself seems to be tipping over a bit but I think it’s a lovely painting nevertheless, well grounded in European tradition and American post-modern kitsch. Tumbas-Hajo is a stand in for Tomo Jurcevic, a recent Cleveland immigrant (in 1981) from Kodrun in Slavonija (Yugoslavia), whose tune played on a 'samica' landed into this list of 100 but whose image I could not find. A samica is a relative of the better known tamburitza. The tune Becarac by Jursevic comes from the LP Nova Domovina/A New Homeland produced by the Ohio Arts Council, a wonderful organization that funds great things (I apply for funding every year but never got a penny yet).

I got a new computer for Christmas and one of the things that excites me the most about it is that I can make charts on it. Pie charts, columns, bars, and what not. I tried to make one to include here but it was a bit more difficult than I thought. Soon, pretty soon, you'll get so many charts with analytical  data that you won't like any pie any more. For now I will list my favorite stat just with their numbers. These are the 23 countries of origin after 66 of the 100 songs are listed:
1. USA, including several cultural minority  groups, 27 (40.9%); 2. Great Britain, 6 (9.1%); 3. China, 5 (7.6%); 4. Norway, 4 (6.1%); 5. Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, Jamaica, and Spain, all with 2 (3% each); 10. Japan, Vietnam, Italy, Mexico, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Bahamas, Uganda, Barbados, India, Albania, Portugal, Ethiopia, all with 1 (1.5% each).

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