Saturday, April 2, 2011

World Music

It was weird hearing so much American music in London. We heard the Cars, that New York song with Jimmy Z and ...I dunno, one of those Kardashian girls?, and a bunch of other U.S. stuff while we were over there. And it's not like we were hanging out at Cowboy Bob's Big American Down Home Feedbag Diner or anything. We did hear Morrissey and "My Generation" in a pub, but I sort of expected that stuff to be piped through the streets over there.

I guess every country views every other country's music and culture as exotic - like the British guy I saw on the tube wearing an Atlanta Braves cap, or when some friends of mine were over there a decade ago at some big music festival. After watching, I dunno, Blur or Radiohead or whoever was big at the time, they got up to leave. The Brits they were sitting next to said something like, "You're not gonna stay for Sheryl Crow?" They were also drinking Miller Lite instead of tasty British people beer.

This isn't a bad thing at all (except for the Miller Lite). If we could only listen to our own country or race's music it would be a terrible world, and I'm pretty sure there would have been a couple more world wars, just out of boredom.

We went to a club on our last Saturday night in London. It was fairly small and there weren't that many people there at first. There were some girls having a birthday party. A couple people still wearing shirts from the budget cuts protest. An old skinhead and his young friend or kid. Some people who looked like they just got out of school or work. Other than the old skinhead guy, they all looked about mid-20s, maybe early 30s. One guy was wearing a Ghostbusters T-shirt.

But the DJ at this place was something else. He was playing actual vinyl, 7" records, and they were all obscure American soul and funk from the '60s and '70s with the occasional latin jam and a couple old ska tunes. It was awesome. How obscure were they? I only knew one song ("Readings in Astrology," by Curtis Mayfield which wasn't even an album cut), and I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about such things.

And these people knew all these songs, or most of them, anyway, and were dancing and singing along and generally having a great time. And why wouldn't they? The DJ was playing the jams. Is there a place somewhere in America where people dance to obscure English music from 40 years ago? I'd like to think there is. Hell, I know there is.

So what did I learn from this? Nothing I didn't already know. That there's still tons of unexplored music and media and art out there in the world just waiting to be unearthed and bring people together in shared experiences of awesomeness. There is never a stopping point. There will always be more amazing finds just around the corner.

That, and that first Curtis Mayfield album has an awesome cover. Just look at it:

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