WTM #1124: Trains That Yodel

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

Train Freedom PTP ID > b/art vs Stephen Vitiello
Prisoner Train > Dub Ratz vs DJ NSD
Train No 1 + Trains Hit Cars > Dusty Kid + Damage Trax
I Dreamt I Yodeled I Remixed > Alvin Curran
Slow Snow > Erika Stucky [Suicidal Yodels / Traumton]
Echotrain > Abstrackt Keal Agram
#6 Duets > Shelley Hirsch
Intro Yodel & Yodel Lessons 1-3 > Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger [Yodels from Texas to Tyrol / MAA]
Concierto En Canto – Sobre Saltos > Fatima Miranda
Them Yodelers > Mason Williams [Them Poems / Vee Jay]
I’m Lonely > Lee Morse
Dog Kickers > Mason Williams [Them Poems / Vee Jay]
Sheriff’s Sale > Frankie Marvin [The Golden Age of Frankie Marvin / Cattle]
BooBoo Cat > Hasil Adkins [Look At That Caveman Go!! / Norton]
Turn-T > If Bwana
Hitler Lives > FSK [When It Rains In Texas It Snows On The Rhine / Sub-Up]
Nurse’s Song > Allen Ginsberg vs Peter Orlovsky
Some Talking / When It Snows In Texas > FSK [When It Rains In Texas It Snows On The Rhine / Sub-Up]
Train Stn. Alexanderplatz > Ned Bouhalassa
Train to Tehran > Namito (Eleven Kling Klong)
DC metro 08 04 02-1 > B/art
End of Marvelous Night Outro pal > B/art & MC Pal

Most of the tracks featured on this show were by people, not ordinary people, but yodelers who are featured in my new book, Yodel in HiFi. The notion is that yodeling is dynamic and bold like the train and often the train whistle, the physical forward [positive / progress] motion of the train, its logical inertia seems in some ways very compatible with that of the yodel as a sonic thrust outward that represents a positive effort to communicate beyond ordinary means to reach another part of the self not normally touched upon just like the first railroads stretched across seemingly uncharted territory. Three of the most enchanting [ab]users of the yodel inc.:

• “I Dreamt John Cage Yodeling at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof, Maritime Rites,” Alvin Curran [1938]. This piece is very close to my heart because this experimental soundmaker-composer captures the ephemeral nature of chance encounters and serendipity.  Curran’s work reflects the dynamic nature of contrasts working with both notated composition and soundscape happenstance, minimal and large, chaotic and calm. This work reveals his enchantment with sounds stumbled upon in public at a train station where he heard a man vocalizing and yodeling. Curran tracked him down and convinced him to reproduce his impromptu vocals in Zurich’s train station producing this brilliant electroacoustic piece of yodeling. He remixed it for my CD collection Avant La Voix, creating an even more intensely turbo urban version.

• Erika Stucky, a most unusual singer with the most common of Swiss last names, is never where you expect her to be. As a singer-yodeler-cabaretier she’s all over the place but always armed with a deadly earnest focus. She divides her life – uh, career – into tours and each tour is dedicated to one of her preoccupations: among others, Hendrix, the Woodstock Project with the Young Gods, renovated roots with Roots of Communication, the “Princess” tour – and her Suicidal Yodels project, which focuses on songs that have influenced her and how they recombine in a post-mod existence, using storytelling, videos, solo yodels and duet yodels with Austrian trombonist-yodeler, Sebastian Fuchsberger of Global.Kryner.

Born in San Francisco during high hippie days, Stucky learned to be at home anywhere in any genre – her vocal cords serving as a visceral, sinewy link between styles and sympathies. Her modus operandi lies somewhere between stand-up liberation musicology and melodic Groucho Marxism. This is in part due to her strategy of “serious fun,” which means skewing pop standards, double entendres, salacious insinuation and a boundless energy for discovering the “light” inside “enlightenment.”

I’ve seen her perform a number of ties but each performance is a surprise and she features prominently as one of the profiled yodelers in the excellent film Heimatklange.

• Shelley Hirsch [276] is one of the first people I wanted to interview for my book [Randy Erwin & Ed Sanders were 2 others]. I interviewed her one month after 9-11 only a few blocks from Ground Zero. I wanted to interview her because her “Haiku Lingo” is what brought me to my WFMU radio special devoted to yodeling in 1996, which eventually led to the writing of the book. Her piece remains central because it is the perfect example of vocals as iconoclasm, as cliché-buster of the notion that the yodel can only develop in a place with mountainous conditions because of the natural echo conditions. Hirsch grew up a Jewish girl in the ghetto known as East New York in Brooklyn and recorded “Lingo” in a modern studio — if these circumstances don’t explode the typical view of the yodel that is steeped in deep prejudice then I don’t know what could.

What I like most about Hirsch is this perfect combination of comedic cabaret and serious vocal extension. She is best known for her kinetic multiple personality panoply of voices that seem to emerge from her mouth as if by some temporary self-induced psychotic state. She is a bit of a shaman in her ability to shift into new guises, voices, dreams, and personalities. She makes imperceptible legato slides from style to genre to questionable mental states. She has a command of cabaret, Borscht Belt routines, a grip on opera, 40s swingin’ pop, jazz, rock, Broadway musicals, as well as post-Dada forays into the abstract frontier of language as pure sound experiments. She moves from East New York denizen to operatic diva at the blink of an eye. From chest voice to head voice in the twitch of an ear. Shelley Hirsch.
Although I feature 3 yodelers here it could have been any of the others featured during the show as many are among my favorites. The ultimate compliment is that the yodel as voiced by them brought me back to the human voice, to a dimension I thought I had left for good, the human dimension.

Listen to selected shows at wreckthismixcloud


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