Tuesday, November 08, 2005


What a retro weekend! 100 pages into Darwin's "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals". Way retro, 1st edition was 1872, lots of "the distinguished gentleman" type verbage, and, what a shocker: Darwin was a Lamarkian. He believed in inheritance of acquired traits. The father of evolution knew nothing about genetics -- he had Mendel's book on his shelf but never read it!

But, Darwin rocks. I have blogged before about books on music and the mind and how clueless they are, and that music doesn't seem evolutionary to me, and, how can it have such deep hooks in us. Then, on p 92 of "Expression":

"whether we believe, as I maintain, that the habit of uttering musical sounds was first developed as a means of courtship, in the early progenitors of man, and thus became associated with the strongest emotions of which they were capable -- namely, ardent love, rivalry, and triumph."
So, there you have it. Music is another peacock's tail like language, developed, probably by males, to woo females (only male birds sing -- altho I have had female cardinals in my yard doing something that sounded suspiciously like singing).

More fun facts from "Expression" when I finish it.

On to the retro music. 1st weekend acquisition, Os Mutantes, "Everything is Possible! The Greatest Hits of Os Mutantes". The song "Baby(1971)" was on the Luaka Bop "10th Anniversary: Zero Accidents on the Job" that my oldest daughter gave me a few years ago, and I really liked it, 4 stars. I had looked for more of their stuff and hadn't found it, but iTunes had this one now. Downloaded without listening -- then found, with Gilberto Gil (current Brazilian Minister of Culture and Open Culture prophet), they were mainstays of the Brazilian Tropicalia movement from '68-72 (my college years) -- so it's like mambo, samba and other Brazilian forms with fuzz tones and Sgt. Pepper, way bizarre. The lead singer, Rita Lee, has been recording for 30 years, she was apparently on MTV a couple of years ago.

Listened also to some Gilberto Gil, downloaded only one track, "Pai e mãe", which sounded like Jobim. Antonio Carlos Jobim, the father of bossa nova, has been a favorite of mine since high school (Jobim was probably part of the Brazilian music establishment that Os Mutantes were rebelling against). I have on vinyl a Jobim album whose first song is "Águas De Março (Waters Of March)" in Portuguese and whose last song is the same song in English. I played it for my daughters years ago and they were fascinated by it. The lyrics are a list of nouns: "A rock, a stick, a stone, ..." -- they decided they liked the Portuguese better. On CD I have a Verve Jazz Masters CD by Jobim which has Waters of March.

Early 70's apparently weren't retro enough. A few weeks ago while waiting in a rental car in Newark airport for a colleague's later flight to get in, on an NPR type station, I heard a song from my childhood, "Would You Like to Take a Walk" -- I remember it from a Warner Bros Merry Melody cartoon, sung by a Big Bad Wolf type. So, decided to find it on the web -- and of course suceeded, everything is there. Actually found the same recording I heard, by Annette Hanshaw, born 1901, record and radio vocalist from 1926 to 1936, when she decided to retire. So, have a CD with 25 of her recordings coming from Amazon. Interesting, read 2-3 online bios, all pretty much agree with the above dates except for vh1.com, which had her starting recording at age 15 and retiring at age 24 -- they had her age wrong by 10 years. Could not find anyway on their site to let them know of their error.

Looked her up on wikipedia. What a great reference:

Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 - March 13, 1985) was one of the first great female jazz singers. In the late 1920's she ranked among Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith and the Boswell Sisters. In 1936, she retired from singing and never attempted a comeback. The singer Helen Kane is said to have based her look on Hanshaw. Noteable is her influence in the Hyperreality theory of Jean Baudrillard. Since Kane based her look on Hanshaw, she purported to be the reality of the hyperreality character of Betty Boop.
Just what we need, another post-modern french philosopher, vying with the others to see how far they can get their head up their ass!

And while I was at Amazon, put a 4 CD boxed set of Fats Waller, 95 tracks, in my shopping cart. I was introduced to Fats by the keyboard player of the 1st band I played in in Cambridge. Possibly the greatest stride piano player ever, and made some unbelievably happy music -- maybe I just think so because it reminds me of those Merry Melody cartoons of my childhood.

Then, following the reference from the movie "Ray", downloaded "The Complete Capitol Recordings of Art Tatum" -- 29 tracks for $22, surely a bargain.

I was starting to feel bad about being too lazy to put links to all the above in here. But, google will find you many references to all of the above, sure beats a single link. If everyone gets as lazy as me, tho, will it hose google's search relevance algorighm?

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