My Cool New Tech Toy
Sunday Serendipity: 28 December 2008

Elder Music: 27 December 2008

category_bug_eldermusic My obsession with following political news in excruciating detail all day during the final six months or so of the election campaign has, at last, been broken and I have time again for some old and some new interests.

Today ought to be This Week in Elder News at TGB, but with the holiday, some socializing, way too much snow and my new Eee PC, I didn’t get around to making selections. Maybe tomorrow, Sunday.

I’ve been filling some of the time I spent on election news for half a year reacquainting myself with my extensive MP3 music collection. When New Years has come and gone, schedules return to normal and for the foreseeable future, Elder News will continue on Saturdays, and Sundays (until something else comes along) will be devoted to Elder Music.

What do I mean by Elder Music? I suspect our musical tastes are set in our youth and there won’t be much that was new in the past 30 years. I stopped following new releases in the 1970’s disco era and never picked up the habit again except for favorite artists. I was fortunate to be working in radio during the most phenomenally creative period of popular music and interviewed many of the stars of Sixties music era for radio and TV shows I produced. That’s “my music” – of the pop variety.

So there will be that and some older popular music too along with jazz, some spirituals, great old country hits, classical favorites, and whatever else strikes my fancy each week limited sometimes by what’s available on YouTube, etc. When there is information of interest or personal stories to go with the songs, I’ll include those.

You will undoubtedly find some of my taste wanting and I don’t care (I probably wouldn’t like some of your music either), but maybe this feature will resurrect some memories of songs that you have neglected over the years, or remind you of others, or introduce you to something you had never heard before that you end up liking.

We’ll start today with a great Sixties band – Blood, Sweat & Tears. You can see an endless and endlessly-changing personnel roster for the band at Wikipedia, but I’m speaking of the David Clayton-Thomas era, in his first lead vocalist go 'round with BS&T.

There are any number of hits I could choose: Spinning Wheel, the Laura Nyro tune, And When I Die, You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, among others. But I got lost in Hi De Ho a few days ago.

It was composed by Gary Goffin and Carole King, and this is David Clayton-Thomas singing it not in 1972 when the song was first released by the band, but as an older man in a 1993 concert - with a bonus of And When I Die in the second half. [10:22 minutes]

Now, for another take on Hi De Ho, here it is by Straight No Chaser, a men’s a cappella group that has been a huge YouTube hit this month with some Christmas songs. This was recorded in concert during their early years in 1998. [3:35 minutes]

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, a final Christmas story for the year from Anne Gibert: A Christmas Carol or a Christmas Fiasco.]


My heat belongs to the folk music era of the mid to late 60's. What fun going to folk music concerts and/or bars and getting down with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Buffy St. Marie and all the rest.

That was wonderful--great way to start Saturday mornings!

Love it! Love it! Love it!

Great idea for a new web section! I grew up going to Club 47 in Cambridge MA with my mom who loved folk music. And the Newport Festivals where we camped out by the station wagon.
Maybe we can add in any good new finds, for instance, has anyone seen the movie "Once"? It is the first time in a long time I asked Olof to get me the music for my ipod.
Judy Collins just played over here in Brownfield, I couldn't afford to go since I had tickets for Bela Fleck which was out of this world. We also love the Putamayo series of world music.
Love to hear about your music library.

Oh, man do I ever love that a cappella group!! Thanks for the links, Ronni.

This did 'resurrect some memories'. This is a wonderful idea Ronni!

I have no clue what music is all about these days. I am caught in the time warp of the sixties!

Fab idea. You must have energized your childhood playmates, coming up with fun, imaginative, even dazzling ideas on rainy days and sunny ones, too. A BS&T member was a classmate at NYC's High School of Music and Art, and I still marvel that a "kid" made it that big (among many other grads from the place we called the Castle on the hill).

Last night, reflecting with friends on the passing of Eartha Kitt and fellows of that era, I wondered, What happened to/with Roberta Flack, a must-listen-to persona of the sixties and later?

This is so much fun! I look forward to keeping up with your music!

I love it that David Clayton-Thomas is still performing and sounds great! I loved that group! And the a capella group is outstanding!!!!!!!!

That was great and much as I loved the original Blood, Sweat and Tears version of And when I Die, as much as I used to enjoy playing and singing it for myself, my favorite versions are when David Clayton Thomas sings it today. This was a great reminder for me. What a great entertainer he was and still is. :)

A cappella music has been a large part of my life. Barbershop music.
Belonged to a group who preformed in Europe and was on state at Carnegie Hall. Standing ovations were the norm.
Treasured memories.
Love the music of my {our} time! Can't wait to see what you have in your library!

I remember an old radio commercial in Canada: "This is David Clayton Thomas and the Shades...for Wildroot!"

Ronni, my music is right with yours, I think!

I know there are least four of your followers who go back further than the 60's to the big band era - me included. I could write a page of favorites; Gene Kruppa, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, etc. The singers include many that you will know; Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett,Jo Stafford,Peggy Lee, and so many others. Great idea.

We must have a Vulcan mind meld going or something...great!

We got a cool gadget from our kids this year - an Ion turntable that turns record albums into mp3's for your computer.

I finally made myself do a complete inventory of all the vinyls we own - 372 as of today.

It is slow in that you have to play each album fully to record, and you still have to manually insert a track change if you don't want the entire side to be one big mp3.

IT came with a fancy smancy software for sound editing, but for now I am happy to use the beginners easy peasy software.

Gee whillakers, I have a big job to do if we want ALL those albums on cds or as mp3s.

Cowtown Pattie,

Usually, the music editing software that comes with these devices allows you to record the complete side of an LP vinyl record and then separate the songs contained in the resulting large mp3 file into smaller mp3 files. You can then record these smaller mp3 files (individual songs) as separate tracks on a CD. There's no need to spend time trying to separately record each of the songs on a side of the LP.

I've converted the songs on most of my old LPs this way. Once I've got the songs from a complete side of an LP recorded onto my computer and separated into individual files, I've used music editing software to remove the pops, clicks, and other noises that are inherent with vinyl records, then recorded them on CDs.

I now also carry these favorite old-time songs around with me on my mp3 player. When I want a change, I just erase them from the mp3 player and install a new group.

Listening to my old favorites while I'm on the treadmill or doing other things can really brighten my day. Isn't technology great sometimes?

Since moving to Austin ten years ago, I've come to love and appreciate the work of some of our local "Singer/Songwriters", people like Robert Earle Keane jr, Lucinda Williams and (naturally) my contempoary, Willie Nelson. There's a lot about their stuff that reminds me of the "Folk Rockers" of the 60's-Dylan, Baez, Loudon Wainwright
and Linda (Different Drum) Ronstadt."Different Drum" was like my mantra for most of '60's (I guess it still is in a way)


The Ion turntable came with two different softwares, one is the easy peasy one for novices, and the other, "Audacity", is the high end, complicated one. Just looking at the digital soundboard was enough to deter me from tackling Audacity - just yet.

I do think (maybe just a goofy perception) that the sound on an LP is much better than a digital mp3. And, for some reason, I am comforted by the familiar hisses and pops of turntable sound.

I am not sure I want to erase that!


It's not a goofy perception. You're right about the LP sounding better than the mp3. There is more of a fullness in the LP sound because it is analog (continuous). Some of this fullness is lost when the analog sound is converted to mp3 (digital) because the digital conversion process actually just samples the sound at discrete intervals. Since the mp3 sound is not continuous, the high sample rate allows your ears to not recognize the spaces where no sound exists, except by making the sound not seem as full as the analog sound. Thus, the conversion to mp3 is called a "lossy" process.

Although most of the music today is distributed on CDs, a lot is still distributed on vinyl LPs because many of the people who have high-end entertainment systems prefer the fuller sound they get from an LP. So, the vinyl LP is not dead yet, and I doubt that it will be for a long time. One thing, though. Usually the equipment that these people use is of such high quality that it takes a long time for today's LPs to develop the noises (pops, clicks, etc.) that we got used to in our day.

As for not wanting to edit out the familiar record player noises, that's a matter of choice. I have a friend who feels the same way about leaving in these noises. Myself, I'm somewhat of a purist and prefer to edit them out so that I can hear just the music. Fortunately, at my age (73) my hearing is still excellent and I can still hear the very low and very high frequencies. So it's important to me that as much of the original music as possible is present, especially when I'm listening to classical stuff.

You're right about converting an LP to mp3 consuming a lot of time because you actually have to play each LP on the turntable in order to record the songs. But, you can probably save time if you use Audacity. Although Audacity is a very complex music editing program, you don't have to learn how to use all the bells and whistles. You can learn just the functions that allow you to record a complete side of an LP and then break it up into the individual songs (automatically if you choose). I've used it and I don't think that you'd have much trouble learning just the functions that you need.

Happy listening to all your old favorites.

I must be a bit older than you because my taste in music is eclectic. I love big bands, 50's rock 'n' roll, jazz (Dixieland and modern progressive, 50' & 60's country western, classical and semi-classical. I guess that I'm just an old fogie!

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