Archive for the ‘Vocal Duos’ Category

We’re Moving

June 7, 2013

movingI was beginning to feel like Sybil with 16 personalities. There are versions of me wandering all over the web at this point. I feel like it’s time to integrate some of my various personas. From here on out, you can find me at my new place. Click on the blog link to see what I’m thinking about and follow the other links to see the various  bits of research data that I have collected. It will take me a while to consolidate and organize so check back often.



Charlie Louvin

January 25, 2010

Charlie Louvin was still touring as of last spring. Read this interview by Wade Tatangelo in the St. Petersburg (FL) Times.

Everly Brothers Fan Survey

October 14, 2009

I have created a survey for Everly Brothers fans, hoping to capture some interesting viewpoints and data to use in my dissertation. I was restricted to 10 questions, but I think that will be enough. If any of my fellow musicologists are listening, let me know if the questions seem reasonable or what tweaks need to be made.

Hall & Oates

October 12, 2009

Daryl Hall and John Oates are releasing a 4-CD retrospective box set of the career, which began in the late 1960s. CNN has a short article on them with audio clips if you need a refresher. I admit to listening to them a lot in junior and senior high school and maybe even a bit into the 80s, but I don’t think I ever bought their albums (as in LP…as in the near-dinosaur era). And I know I never bought their CDs (new or reissues). It’s not that I don’t think they had a good sound or that their music wasn’t important to the pop music sound and production of that era. I’ll admit that many of their melodies were quite singable. Some of their lyrics were clever–maybe not in the intellectual, high brow way, but in the roll-off-your-tongue way. But somehow their music never jolted me enough to spend money. It may have been that the production was too ornate, too studied, too controlled, and consequently too unemotional (or sometimes too cloying). Their songs resonated with a lot of people during that era and so it is important to uncover the reasons. But I think I’ll leave it for others to discover.

Because probably one reason I didn’t like them so much was there just weren’t enough opportunities to harmonize.

Best Duets Ever

October 5, 2009

A few years ago, the Telegraph published a list of the 50 best duets ever. And yes, they included one by the Everly Brothers, “Let It Be Me,” chosen, it seems, for its significant role in their reunion concert in Albert Hall in 1983.

I particularly like the “key moment” analysis included with most of the songs on the list. It is instructive to see what resonates with people about duets. The critics who compiled the list believed at the time (2003) that the duet was making a comeback, but that is because of a number of hip-hop and pop songs pair different individual stars. To me, they seem present but not together in the recording.

To complement their best-of list, of course, they also provided a worst duets ever list. No commentary, though.

When It Pours, I Blog

July 9, 2009

It’s been raining, or at least cloudy, for what feels like months here in New England so most of us have resorted to rain metaphors.

I go for days, weeks, or months with nothing to blog (or rather, nothing coherent or interesting), then suddenly my cup runneth over, my drain clogs up, the bath water spills over, and I have lots of tidbits and longbits.

I just found a brother duo, the Thompson Brothers, who actively perform and place themselves within the tradition of brother duos. Their website contains some interesting information about gospel music, brother duets, and the connections between the Ulster Scots and the Appalachian region of the southern United States. I think maybe I’ll try to contact them.

Online discographies

July 9, 2009

Just a quick link for those you interested in recordings from the early twentieth century. There’s a very nice online discography available. The role of collectors to scholarly research, particularly with popular music, is critical and I, for one, truly appreciate it. I have a list going of other discographies and information about old recordings here, some from collectors and amateurs, and others hosted by research institutions.

Email Lists: The Next Victim of Web 2.0?

June 30, 2009

After reading this article in the Chronicle of Higher Learning, I started to think about the usefulness of email lists as new types of social media gain in popularity. My immediate reaction is that email lists have a moldy, musty smell to them and are beginning to resemble the old bulletin boards at the end of the 1200 baud dial-up modem from yesteryear. I love new technologies and new ways of connecting. I also enjoy being able to participate from a variety of portals, including my desktop, a community computer, my phone, and my laptop. Looking at email lists right now is a bit like watching Grandma driving her 1973 Plymouth sedan at 45 mph in the fast lane.

Like some people in the article, I have dropped off of some of the lists. I foolishly felt obligated to read the emails. What if there was a real gem hidden in one? I finally understood that deleting without reading doesn’t work well for me, so I unsubscribed. In reality many of the lists had degenerated into whining (why can’t I find a job? why did you misunderstand me? why won’t anyone pay attention to my special cause?) or concert/event/recital/job postings. I remain on one list, mostly for professional reasons, but I have been sorely tempted over the last year to unsubscribe to it, too. I have become very uncomfortable with the attitudes expressed there and have also been discouraged, disheartened, and dismayed. I feel like the email list has become the place where the old guard pitches its greatest battles to save the castle. Meanwhile, I suspect the hipper and cooler people are probably hanging out by the pool at the condo complex down the road (i.e. on Facebook, blogging, Twittering, etc.). So I want to mix up my metaphors and jump ship.

And then I realize the world probably needs places for all types of discussions in all kinds of manners. While the old guard infuriates me, at least I have the opportunity to read and contemplate their opinions and views. The intellectual challenges presented through opposing opinions are beneficial to all of us, as is open discussion.

Some users of email lists are often unwilling or unable to keep pace with the rapidly changing technologies. I’m glad they still have a place to go (for now, at least) to participate in the discussions. I suspect there will be enough of them to keep email lists alive for quite some time. The downside is that their arena of ideas may become very narrow and isolated. That will be sad.

One current downside of blogging and social networking approach to discussion is that the tools for finding, consolidating, and filtering is still in its infancy in my opinion. It’s only a matter of time (days? weeks?) before that changes, too.

Road Trip

April 17, 2009

I’m heading to NYC for a few days with my son. We plan to see a Broadway show (of course), do some of the touristy things, and eat fun and exotic foods. I’m also going to drag him to the New York Public Library so I can spend time with the Billy Rose Theatre Collection. I’m hoping to find the name of at least one duo from the minstrel or vaudeville era or to find examples of people singing duets in the shows. When I return, I’m also planning to visit the Harvard Theatre Collection in the Houghton Library. They have programs from both minstrel and vaudeville shows. Ideally I would love to find descriptions of how the duos performed, but absent that, I may be able to make some extrapolations if I know what songs, what shows, what theaters, and so on. Actually I think I have a good how idea how the vaudeville acts performed from listening to numerous recordings of duets in the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Transparent Barriers

March 30, 2009

I’m currently working on the biography chapter of my dissertation. I’ve been making notes from each of the three published biographies then trying to verify the information (some truly blatant errors in those books, by the way). In my search for “correct” information, I have found that the Country Music Hall of Fame has an impressive collection of oral histories, including recordings of Margaret Everly, as well as other informants who played with or knew Ike Everly. There are also recordings of key figures in the story such as Wesley Rose. I’m now waiting to hear from the historian at CMHF about access to those histories.

I have also discovered that the Kentucky State Library and Archives has collected newspaper and magazine clippings concerning the Everly Brothers. It is more than they are willing to photocopy and mail, so I’m currently trying to find a local researcher who can do it for me (for pay, of course).

Ideally I would talk to Don and/or Phil in a sort of ethnographic interview. I found a phone number for one of them today (thank you, oh great internet gods), but I can’t imagine what I would say in a phone call to convince him that I am a legitimate researcher and not some kooky fan stalking him. Bruno Nettl and Helen Meyers are silent on this topic. I’m going to sit and contemplate this for a few days. Maybe ask my advisor. But I keep looking at that number and thinking this is too good to be true. Only People magazine has phone numbers like this, right?

And therein lies one of the strange problems with doing musicological research in the area of popular music. If your subject is alive and famous, your access will probably be restricted or heavily mediated, assuming you can get any access. If you can’t, then whatever you can learn through secondary sources is, again, heavily mediated. This is, of course, a common dilemma for the historical musicologist, who deals exclusively with artifacts and descriptions that have been processed by both humans and time. The ethnomusicologist, on the other hand, can interact directly with the music-making subjects and objects, reporting her findings with or without critique. I feel caught between the two worlds and know that most of what gather from secondary sources (newspapers, magazines, fan biographies, websites, liner notes, etc.) has been “spun” to meet a marketing need; in other words, the information is presented as a transparent barrier. None of the writers on methodology for popular music studies seem to address this and many of the works I’ve read maintain a distance with the actual subject, as if they were dead. I am not satisfied with taking that approach, but I’m not certain yet how to negotiate this new territory.