Currently viewing the tag: "Franz Boas"


When Blue from Hello The Future, tweeted challenging me to write a song about Thomas Edison's Wax cylinder, my imagination began to run wild.  I thought of the world before the invention of recorded music.  How would I function in this world? Probably poorly. She had previously let me know about an awesome They Might Be Giants session recorded on wax cylinder , so this was not out of the blue... so to speak.


I recently read Anna Karenina (not for high school, just for fun #teamlevin), and those dudes went to Operas all the time.  I wouldn't be able to handle that much live theater.  In fact I'll tell you the play that broke me on the medium.  It was a 40 minute one act about 5 famous scientists stuck in a space-time-prison/distopian-landscape and slowly going insane. Way to go playwright. I read a brief history of time too! Spoiler alert: They open the box... or do they?


Other than that, you could invite a chamber choir into your house for a salon.  You would need to ignore the fact that it's never a good idea to invite musicians into your house. We're kind of like vampires.  We need to be invited, but after that we can fully use our powers of mooching and noise-making.  You know that Christmas song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"? Point made.


If human contact really isn't your thing, your only real option was to own a player piano... obviously the best option so far.


A possible alternate to the player piano

Fortunately for all of us non-theater-enjoying, automated-music-owning, chasing musicians-off-your-porch-with-a-broom folks out there Thomas Edison invented the wax cylinder recording device.  The first words spoken were "Mary Had a Little Lamb". That gave way to records, digital music, and podcasts.  Ah, to have the soothing sounds of a Kwakiutl shaman coughing bloody feathers into his hand, me driving the California coast, a coffee precariously placed between my knees, holding hands with my lovely girlfriend.  Much better than trudging through the snow to see some stuffy Opera.


Enjoy the song.

Thomas Sang

The nights were cold
We trudged up hill both ways in the snow
G                                         F#
with the whale oil smoke in your eyes
We felt so old
Watching clowns and lovers play
and sing ungodly hours away
A                     F#
'til I was raging blind
Bm    F#   Bm
and nearly lost my mind

G    A       A7
But then Thomas sang
Bm              A
mary had a little lamb
G                                    A
The tubes set his voice to grooves
F#                           Bm
And it was crushed to bits

G          A
A7      Bm                A
Sang Mary Had a Little Lamb
G                          A                     F#
those magnetic ones and o's
Bm     F#   Bm
Just barely saved my mind

So long to paper scrolls
Gershwin's robotic ghost
So long to chamber choirs
Sitting by the fire
with my one true love
Sipping coffee and listening
To an indian man
cough feathers into his hand

Sang Mary had a little lamb
The tubes set his voice to grooves
And it was crushed to bits

Sang Mary had a little lamb
those magnetic ones and o's
just barely saved my mind.

Cm   A#   G#    G

Cm  G  Cm

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