Friday, December 9, 2011

It's All There

This is the time of the year I look for an old cassette tape of "alternative" Christmas music. I made the tape one Christmas Eve from a listener sponsored radio station in the Bay Area about 30 years ago. It's a wonder that the tape still plays, but it does if you stretch it out a bit by fast forwarding it up and back a few times. A good metaphor for me right now!
This year, I decided to forego my search for the cassette and went straight to the net. The tape contains all kinds of Christmas blues, gospel, country, bluegrass, music and a few things that defy categorization. So far my internet search has enabled me to find much of what's on that lost tape. There are all the great Charles Brown holiday classics, Elvis Presley's version of Christmastime in the City (pretty baby) Bill Monroe's Christmastime's a Comin' and wonderful spirituals by the Blind Boys of Alabama and Clara Ward. I found some Conjunto music with Flaco Jiminez and Freddie Fender as well. MyI top 10 alternative holiday music countdown can be found on my Facebook page if anyone wants to give a listen.
It still amazes me how easy it is to locate music, film and video on the internet. Time was when most folks, especially teachers, spent hours trying to find material for their classes. Used to be that you'd have to track down video material at libraries, through catalogs, word of mouth, or actually doing the legwork. If you wanted something rare or out of the ordinary, you paid. Being a fan of pop culture, I used to rent, buy or borrow short films, advertising clips, records, tapes, or other recordings to bring in the likes of blues artists, the voices of poets, films that were either labeled or thought to be dicey for use in high school classroom. So easy now. What used to be just another annoying ad is now a historical document:

Like everyone, I enjoy the technology. The beginning teachers I work with aren't particularly fond of my stories of how easy they have it when it comes to accessing supplementary material. I just hope they realize how difficult it is to type up a short story yo want to use, or how long it took to track down that out of print film clip, or an old TV ad that would really make the point you were driving at so vigorously.
Seems like not too long ago I marveled at having a recording of Woody Guthrie's "Jesus Christ" Today, when I looked on You Tube, I found three, not to mention a few cover versions.
I'd like to think that with all this exposure to previously difficult to find material we, as a culture, are going up the learning curve. Care to comment?

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