I can’t recall specifically when the word entered my mind … but, one day there it was, and it just felt right … like it should have always existed.
I remember having my own collection of 45’s that I played religiously on my kiddie turntable as a kid … once I was far too grown up for my Peter Pan records that is. I was a bit of a loner, but, not in the least bit timid … a trait that is yes to reveal itself as my biggest flaw or my greatest asset … and so I made it a regular adventure to walk down to the local radio station, around the lake from the southern home I grew up in, and demand they give me records.
I don’t know what first possessed my six year old self to do this or why I continued to do it time and again as if it was completely normal behavior, but, I did it none the less and I would spend countless hours alone in my zodiac wallpapered room, windows open to the lake listening intently to each and every track and making scribbly notes all over them like “good”, “bad”, “happy”, “too slow” and so on.
I tore each song apart and found treasures that I cherish to this day like Queen’s “Killer Queen”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York”, Lobo’s “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Mr. Bojangles” just off the top of my head and so many many more.
I didn’t realize at the time, of course, that the station was giving me what if considered to be the “throwaways” and perhaps looking back thus began my love of the B-Side … the track that the machine known as the music industry at that time considered to be unmarketable, and releasable only as the underside of a sure hit … not profitable enough to be released to the masses on it’s own and not worthy enough to take up valuable real estate on an album. Personally, most of my favorites have been discovered on the dark side of the single … but that’s a story for another time ( hint hint ).
I find myself now in a place where everything gets released and where seeking out individual treasures and relishing in and discovering all that went into the creation of them is almost devoid. Today, a track of music is akin to the buildings I’ve seen in Korea overflowing with massively overproduced and cheaply made products … under appreciable and disposable at best. Everyone is a producer, everyone is an artist ( they’ve got the software to prove it ) and there is simply too much, too many, too often. We have rubbed ourselves raw with overabundance and what was once known as craft is more often than not just another .99c disposable product to dig through and toss aside. It’s exhausting … it’s impersonal … and it’s not for me.
I long for value, quality and sustinance and I will go far, deep and wide to seek it out. I have no use for quantity … and I know most of you reading this feel the same.
I guess this unquenchable desire is what brings me to this place and the creation of the Songumentary.
Back in 1949 RCA Victor released the world’s first 45 RPM record with each “genre” of music gettingit’s very own uniquely colored vinyl not unlike the iMac and it’s many flavors so many years later. And these newfangled 45s were a huge hit with the youth, not only for how cute and cool they were or because they were easily traded, carried around in fashionable little cases and cost, get this, just under a dollar, but, mostly because of their “singular” nature … they could be compiled together into a collection that 100% represented the listener in a way that was never possible before.
It wasn’t until the invention of the cassette in the 80s that the 45 lost it’s footing as the favorite form of creating truly personalized and portable music collections and the infamous mixtape became the new nirvana of listening experiences via hours of uninterrupted and handpicked tracks … without ever lifting a finger.
Call me sentimental, but, I want to bring back the charm of the 45 release, the way that all things from packaging to imagery and text represented just that one surefire hit and I want to marry it with the listening Nirvana that came with the era of the mix tape … where the focus again remained on the individual track … a handpicked favorite carefully injected into its place amongst the collection of other cherished treasures and I want that union to give birth to a new way of experiencing an individual song release.
By taking advantage of the tools available to us in this modern era of technology and the ease of communication now afforded to us, we can expand the song release to include a virtual presence and history that is so much more than just an audio file uploaded to the inter webs … a documentary short if you will on it’s creation that brings some knowledge and appreciation of all that goes into the creation of that incredibly undervalued and massively available thing we call a song. I feel that every track has an untold story behind it that includes all of the passion, people, places and events that resulted in its existence and I want that story to be told. I don’t want people to just “listen” to our song … that’ just so 90’s … I want them to feel it, to get to know it’s whole story on a virtual and historical level. I want them to become a part of it and make it their own just as we did.
It’s time for another revolution in how we interact with music … it’s time for the Songumentary.