A whimsical and eclectic journey through pop culture via the mind and aural stash of Warren Bluhm
Sunday, January 21, 2007
UW's Attic #19: Historic sounds
This show ended up revolving around sounds that you don't hear much anymore: A telephone ringing, an electric typewriter, a steam engine. Along the way, as always, we unearth a few tunes.
The centerpiece - or the longest piece - is a 1993-ish radio report I did about the Milwaukee Road 261's visit to Green Bay. This magnificent steam engine was restored to its original working condition, and capturing its sounds was one of the highlights of my halcyon radio days.
Musical entries are "Hobo Bill's Last Ride," a 1930 recording by Jimmie Rodgers you can find at the Internet Archives ... "North of Milwaukee, South of Green Bay" by Big City Bob and the Ballroom Gliders. A Web search will land you a guy named Big City Bob, but this record seems to predate the contemporary Bob's musical activity ... "Sweet Patunia" by Willie Jones a k a Will Baker, a 1927 recording for which precious little info is "out there."
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It ain't no steam engine, but late on summer nights, I can hear the roar and whistle of the Amtrak train drift up the hill, across the Pacific Coast Highway, and through my bedroom window. It's one of the glories of living where I do.
And speaking of "sounds you don't hear much anymore" and old vinyl, a few years back, when my niece Lizzy, age 7 or 8 at the time, was chattering on endlessly, I told her, "You sound just like a broken record." She gave me a puzzled look that I'll never forget. "What the heck's a record, Uncle Wally?"
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