Entry 0054: My Library and the Gift of Music


LP: Laila Je T’aime by Various Artists

2012 Mississippi/Change Records MRP-016 SS-088

Favorite Track: Ce Weeti by Hamadth Kah (cuz who doesn’t love a really good Police cover)

Yesterday, I spent almost four hours organizing my record collection. I never want to touch them again, says my back. But the joy of pulling out the whole collection is discovering those hidden gems you forgot you owned. I put on many LPs I had not listened to in what could be an x amount of years while sifting, sorting, and taking pictures of the covers for this blog. I organized them mostly by geography and genre. By my front door, I started with Manchester Punk which took up a bin and a half because I own a lot of the Fall on vinyl. Then I started with mainland British punk although I threw in some swedish punk, irish punk, and the german electronic genius of Kraftwerk because for some reason I did not feel like shelving them with the other krautrock. Then the left hand side of the left IKEA cabinet has the rest of British punk. Then the right hand side was American west coast punk including riot grrrl, which I am on one of my amazing shopping finds and have gone from having no riot grrrl collection to almost having all the good ones. Then into the right cabinet we drive across America stopping in Washington D.C., Akron, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Providence, and New York City.

Over by the built in wall shelves, I have space for 80’s-90’s acts, which is dominated by the Smiths who I took out of Manchester for this very reason. Then I have a World Music shelf which is a mix of Brazilian tropicalia, Nigerian afrobeat and highlife, French pop from the sixties, and some Chinese surf-garage rock. Then I have a special shelf devoted to the Velvet Underground and its various members solo projects, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, the Stooges, Jim Carroll, and Nick Lowe all rather assembled by loose association. The top shelf is a hodgepodge of hip-hop, jazz, country, folk, and a Leonard Cohen album I didn’t know where to put anywhere else. Finally, in a large crate by the TV, I have all my Sixties rock. 7-inches and 10-inches have their own shelf in the IKEA cabinet.

I am notoriously difficult for someone to buy a vinyl record as a gift. But people have surprised me many, many times. Laila Je’taime was a Christmas gift. It is a on-the-spot location recording of Wester Sahel music often on the side of the road or behind a couple of buildings. There the guitar still holds a cursed stature and many of the musicians are nomadic. I received from a bundle of persimmon curls and beautiful freckles surrounding a luminous smile. I knew nothing about it. I put it on and the mesmerizing power of the guitar struck me immobile.

It is not rock’n’roll in that dirty garage band sound that makes up of most of my collection. But this is one of my all-time favorites. At times, I feel like I can hear outer space. Other times, each string vibrates like a snake winding itself through a desert dune. The voices can whisper screams and shout mumbles. It ends with a cover of “Message in a Bottle” by the Police.

It is the best cover song I have ever heard.

The album evokes the morning and the rising sun, heat, evaporating water, sitting in the shade of a tall tree. But I love to listen to it at night. I love to pretend that I am sitting in a cafe somewhere alien, not of this planet, and I am all alone with a glass of Woodford Reserve and I have the jukebox all to myself. Then, just as the last song finishes, the door opens up and seven barbarians with wicked curved blades, missing teeth and fingers, and a soldier’s gait rush into the room. I react with a typical shoot the lead guy through the chest and into the chest of the obligatory moron who runs directly behind another man in combat. Lasers are handy that way. The other five swing wildly cutting up tables and chairs but I am out the window holding my smoking guitar laser destroyer.

You can listen to and buy the album here. Do it: https://sahelsounds.bandcamp.com/album/laila-je-taime

Christmas is coming up in the way that America promotes shopping for Christmas before all things because BUY BUY BUY! And, yes, I will do James Chance and the Contortions Buy album for my Christmas post. It will be a year since I received this gift. I hope I can manage to do the same for someone else.


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