Monday, September 11, 2006

Killing Me Softly With Their Songs

For the last five years I've been working a project to digitize my record, tape, and video collection. It's a lonely, boring process. I've spent hours and hours on it; I wonder why am I doing this? Will I ever want to listen to any of these Ferrante and Teicher albums again? I've spent hours playing them, digitally cleaning them, then cutting each track; Occasionally, I'll clip the pops out of scratched songs, or fix a stick in the record, as if I'm restoring some rare jewel, but it's just some Hawaiian song sung by Bing Crosby. Why do I bother?

The process seems never ending because my record collection seems endless; Years and years of record stores, and estate sales have created an overflow of entertainment. Right now I don't have a closet to put my towels in because it's filled with albums. It's like some sort of disease, except instead of tumors I've being over taken by dozens and dozens of versions of Clair De Lune (I've got it from everyone from country piano guy Floyd Cramer, to a banjo version, to Larry Alder doing an incredible version on the harmonica, and oh - urgh Andy Williams with special lyrics about some ballerina).

I started collecting records when I was nine, when my Uncle Bruno gave me a box of 78's he found in the garbage. I remember that they were a special thing that only I had... Everyone else at school was listening to Barry Manilow or Elton John I was listening to Ernest Hare and Billy Jones singing "Oh Gosh, Oh Gee, Oh Golly I'm in Love". As time went on I kept adding and adding to my collection. With every garage sale and record store my living space was taken over by Dean Martin, Rod McKuen, and Johnny Mathis albums.

In the mid-90's I worked as a music researcher for NPR's This American Life. So this gave me another reason to buy records. My job was to fill in a song between stories. They'd call me up and say, "Do you have any songs about writing letters?" I'd say "Sure about twenty"; The problem with having this job was it made me buy everything that I thought I'd ever need. Now that I'm not doing this, do I really need the "Bowling Polka" album?

So, I had this brilliant idea to turn these albums into digital files, save a photo of the cover and just keep whatever albums I love or that are rare. I just didn't imagine that this process would be so overwhelming. Three thousand albums at a half-hour a piece = 1500 hours. If I quit my job and did this 8 hours a day, it would only take about six months. At this rate, I have an image of myself stooped over my computer transferring my last Eydie Gorme album, my eyes clouded from cataracts; I will only be able to do Eydie's albums because her high notes will be the only thing that will cut through my deaf ears.

The only thing that keeps me going is finding of some gem of a song or listening to some amazing album I bought 8 years ago. I've so many albums and 45s, 78s that I never listened to... They are like little daily presents.

This song I'm featuring today is one of my new favorite finds... It's on the Nickel label. My wish is that you all have "a love" like the one described in this song; and that they are safely behind bars or restrained in some legal fashion.

It's by Sidney Pitchback and the Sisters.
Click to hear: This is the Woman

As Thax said when he heard it... "That poor woman..."


1 comment:

james vaughan said...

I have worked, and still work, on similar projects.
The doing of it gives us a chance to be immersed in and hopefully enjoy the collection.