For a guy whose last name conjures up horrifying visions of torture, torment, agony, anguish, nightmare, misery, suffering and pain, Richard Hell is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met. I can't remember exactly how we got in touch, although I think it had to do with a fake interview with John Ashbery that I ran in an issue of Readme, an online literary arts journal I edited from 1999-2001.
Whatever the case, we wound up having brunch--yes, brunch--a couple of times in the East Village in the mid-2000s. Richard claimed to be a fan of my comics; I said nothing about how I had always considered him one of the greatest people on earth for having come up with what I still think is the single greatest title of a pop song, ever: "Love Comes in Spurts." Or for having practically single-handedly inventing the whole punk-DIY aesthetic; I mean, I think that had everything to do with my having been an "artist" in the first place.
After we hung out, we exchanged CDs and tapes. He sent me a CD of TIME (his greatest hits along with a live CD) and I sent him a cassette tape of a bunch of music I'd found in bodegas--including some of the stuff I've posted here over the last year or so. Including, significantly, to me, the song you'll hear in the sample above.
I was convinced--*convinced*--that he was going to be bowled over by the raw pop power of that Kabylie song, and write me back, singing my praises as the Greatest Digger On Earth..("OMG! Where did you *find* this gem of etc. etc. etc.?!?") Well, that's not exactly what happened. But I've always remembered his response, which I think was one of the greatest tossed-off bits of philosophy I've ever read: To paraphrase (since I no longer have the e-mail), he basically said that it was incredible to imagine all of us, all over the world, walking around with each of our unique "life-soundtracks" going on in our heads. Something like that, but far more eloquently, if off-the-cuffedly--put.
It was a kind way of saying that my soundtrack wasn't his. But that he certainly respected that I had one. And that it was, finally, so different from his own. Or anyone's.
I admit, part of me was a bit disappointed that he didn't thrill to the Kabylie pop as I did, and still do. Pop music is such that, one wants to know others are not just listening to what you're listening to, but mesmerized by it. It isn't an art of intimacy.
So I offer it to you, anonymous reader and potential downloader. What do you think? I'm now getting dozens of visitors here every day, and it looks like I'm going to have to upgrade my Divshare account for the second time this month, so apparently a lot of you are at least checking this stuff out. But hardly anyone comments. What are you liking? What are you disliking? What do you want to hear more of? Let me know ...
As for this CD, I know almost next to nothing about it, other than I got it at Princess Music & Electronics in Bay Ridge, which closed sometime last summer. And that it remains one of my all-time favorite pop CDs, ever.
Soon after I moved to New York City in 1997 I began to notice that bodegas run by people from around the world sometimes stocked CDs and DVDs of music and film from the countries they had come from.
The music I've collected from these bodegas can almost never be found in the "World Music" sections of the few remaining places to buy CDs in the U.S.; nor, for that matter on iTunes (or cheapo MP3 sites like Soundike).
If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it.