Thursday, February 01, 2007

the connectedness of all things good...



much to the horror of many of my friends, richard dyer bennet is one of my all time favorite singers. he's a far cry from the wonderful insanity and gritty humanism of most of the 'folk' music i love (the harry smith anthology, alan lomax field recordings, and most things rural and running 78 revolutions per minute...). nonetheless, his first LP on his own dyer bennet label (simply called richard dyer bennet 1) is one of the most stunning combinations of voice and guitar i've ever heard. i've tried to convince myself that there is still an "otherness" to his music; and that it somehow connects to the "cooler" things that inspire me; but the reality is that you can't always predict what you will love and you can't always know why...

like a lot of professional folk singers of his generation, dyer bennet's voice has that weird affectation of studying and training. none of his records are perfect (although dyer bennet 1 comes close), and there is always a song or two or three that makes you shudder in their dainty elizabethan shakespeare-ness; but i cannot deny that the combination of voice and guitar in songs like oft in the stilly night and down by the sally gardens gives me goose bumps.

dyer bennet also had a little punk rock in him. in the mid 1950's, at the height of his popularity; he started his own record label to present folk music differently than the major labels like decca and mercury he'd recorded for - he thought the labels didn't care about recording quality enough, nor marketing the stuff with the right amount of integrity. i like to think it was his james dean moment.

i hadn't really listened to dyer bennet for awhile when a cd by kopalen & jao yeay arrived in the mail yesterday. the cd, titled khmer surin vol. 63 is a mix of cambodian kantrum pop, and has some of its own magical moments. i can't read the song titles, but when track 8 came on, the melody sounded extremely familiar.

i listened to the song 3 or 4 times, and it dawned on me that the first half of the main melody is totally connected to dyer bennet's version of a song called 'old maid'.

of course there's no way either knew of each other's song... dyer bennet being long passed away and his version of old maid unavailable other than a scratchy 78, and kopalen & jao yeay's version of a song recorded recently, and in a language dyer bennet would've never understood.

i just started to wonder...what if i unwound the groove that makes up the recorded side of dyer bennet's old maid... how would that awkward unbent line connect dyer bennet to track 8 on khmer surin vol. 63... what path would it take... and what could one potentially find along that path between those two points?

i just wish that i could read the title of the cambodian song... as it might shed some light on the connectedness of all things good...

richard dyer bennet, old maid & kopalen & jao yeay, track 8

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Blogger John W. Hubbard said...

Do you have a larger scan of the Khmer cover? I might be able to translate it.

3:23 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

cool! i'll try to get one over the weekend...

2:25 PM  

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