The Yodel + Me

bart_tongueThis is the annex part of my Wreck This Mess blog, devoted to radio shows with a special focus on yodeling.

I was first fascinated by songs like “5 O’Clock World” by the Vogues and “Hocus Pocus” by the Dutch prog-rockers, Focus when I was “of that age,” having no idea they were “infected” by yodeling. Let alone “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” or other pop hits from my formative years.

This lack of awareness – blissful ignorance? – continued on until I was given a radio show at WFMU in 1986, doing fill-ins on [mostly] over nights. Early on I was fascinated enough by Shelley Hirsch’s “Haiku Lingo” to play the yodel intro to it on numerous occasions. but it wasn’t until 1996 that I became fully aware of the fact that unbeknownst to me I had actually played a fair amount of yodeling on my show over the years. For my final show at WFMU before moving to Amsterdam [and beginning there at Radio Patapoe and eventually Radio 100] I decided to do 2 hours plus of yodeling as a special thank you to the listeners etc. tis eventually led to an article in a pop glossy CUPS that stretched out to about 1500 words, which i thought was more than enough to cover the subject.

I have never been more wrong in all my life. This 1500 words led to a 11,000 word academic article and I realized I enjoyed research and … still did not know enough about yodeling. This led my partner in 2001 to observe that 11,000 [unpaid!] words were a good part of a book. Friend Chris P. recommended that I query Routledge and indeed, in no time I had a deal, a contract and – yikes – a deadline.

In my previous life as a [speculative] fiction writer, the hardest part was getting the attention of those who might help get my stories and books published – chiefly agents, editors and publishers. the easy part was the writing, the hard part was getting someone to notice. So this was the reverse.

The book Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World came out some 2 years later to much fanfare and media attention [much of which can still be found on the Internet] although attention did not lead to sales and riches and a yodeling mansion in Switzerland. This process helped dispel another myth that had been part of my belief system ever since I had started writing in high school. The myth consisted of this: write and publish in small zines, then bigger, and eventually you will be read by the right person who will lead you to a lucrative contract with a big-name publisher. You know, the build up your resume approach of publications and reviews, meticulously documented and sent along to the next mag. Well, when finally the NY Times paid attention to my book I thought this was it, things were now going to happen. They did NOT.

I did produce a CD compilation called Rough Guide to Yodel, which became the post-hoc equivalent of the audio companion to the book. In this process learning that rights to music are determined by the larger record companies [by now media congloms] and so several of my favorite yodelers did not appear on the CD.

have not learned my lesson and realized the day the book came out that this was anything BUT the definitive book on the subject because the book served as bait on the hook, stimulating memories, shaking loose skeletons an mnemonic dust so that suddenly I was dealing with the fact that entire nations and many yodelers had been neglected, forgotten, yet to be discovered and so there is book 2, Yodel In HiFi: From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary Electronica.

Not only that, I have also embarked on producing several more genre/theme-focused CDs including AVAN LE VOIX: HUMAN EXPERIMENTS WITH THE YODEL [avant-garde vocalists] and BLACK & BLUE YODELIN’ [blacks from jazz to hiphop to Africa who yodel] and some others. I have also decided to make a film called DRIVE BY YODELING with the cinematic talents of the post-Vertov-Godardian, Makr Boswell.

So stay tuned for more info about ululations that may be yodeling or something in the same family…


One response to “The Yodel + Me

  1. hi
    i love yodeling and i love your compilations. extremly! hope you going on with your work.
    greeting from lower bavaria. hp

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