I have a friend who wrote for No Depression and I keep trying to check their blogs to see if he might pop up there but I have to admit, I can’t figure out how to navigate the site, so I was lucky enough to come across this entry by David Cantwell.
I’ve been thinking about it all day.
Well, actually, what I’ve been thinking about all day is growing another face on top of my face and slowly suffocating under another whole level of flesh that appeared to be me except for the tell-tale extra set of ears, chew on that psychoanalysts and send my bill to Cute Overload.
But when I haven’t been giving myself the willies, I’ve been thinking about this notion of a shared vocabulary.
I think I was born too late to know if that’s true, and I get nervous when ever we start talking shared canon–and it seems to me that talking about the core songs “everyone” knew is indeed talking about a shared canon, with all the fun and terrible fights that might elicit–but I suspect it’s true.
Because, I think that’s why, even on my tiny iPod that causes me to go through and cull any song that doesn’t earn its keep if I find something else to put on it, I have two and three different versions of a song and why, even though folks make fun of me for it, I want to talk about where these songs come from, originally, and even when we talk about “originally,” I want to make some gesture, like tossing salt over my shoulder, to the roots of that music that are lost to us because they weren’t recorded.
I don’t believe in the United States as a melting pot. I don’t want it to be a melting pot. I don’t want a bunch of different things to come together into something that removes all uniqueness. But at that same time, I want there to be some way, some way all us different people can share something in common and I cannot resist the urge to say “See, see, this music, this beat, this thing you love, pick it up like a string tied to you at the dark end of the labyrinth and follow it back to where you find it’s tied to me and to him and to her and so on. You come here and you put this stuff in your ears and that’s enough to make you ‘us’.”
It might not be true, that there’s one sound like that, but if there is, I suspect it’s syncopated.