Recording absences

While news of spectaular or gruesome demises or the passing of “bright lights” in the mediasphere reach us with all the speed that the velocity of fame allows, some kinds of sad news travel more slowly and by a more circuitous route.

Someone called me during my radio program last night and wanted to know about artists who, like Moby, had appropriated traditional folk musics into their work. The very first thing that popped into my head was a film called “The General’s Daughter“, a so-so mystery film about a death on a military base I’d seen whose music had surprised me enough that I found it a good deal more memorable than the film. But of course, I couldn’t remember the composer’s name. So I googled the film itself, and got his name: Greg Hale Jones. My next google brought up a sermon delivered at his memorial service. What a shock.
Said googling also told me that I’d heard more of his work than I thought. Tomb Raider? MTV shorts? Wow. Busy guy.

What drew me to his stuff initially was what seemed to be a kind of reverence when it came to using the original materal… a kind of seamless merging of the original recordings and the stuff that surrounded it reminiscent of the best moments of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.Here’s an example of what I mean, taken from his album Now There Is a Tree of Ghosts. Here’s another sample from a later release Crossing the Willamette.

There’s nothing too surprising about having artists long dead appear in your life bringing wonderful gifts, I guess. But it seems to me that there’s a special kind of sadness that attaches to artists like Greg or Eva Cassidy or Hans Faverey–artists who enter your life so soon after their passing that they might, under other circumstances, still have been fellow travellers. So you listen to their music or read their verse and imagine what might have been. And if you don’t have a heart of stone, you remember that they were also someone’s friend or father or daughter or companion.

Recording absences

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