Where has that music and all those great old musicians gone?
Actually, the music didn’t all “die” with them many of the best musicians of his grandparents generation still live at R. Crumb’s house in the south of France where they are all still alive in the grooves of his fabulous 78 collection. This ‘house of wax” functions as his very own “secret weapon,” his own personal muse, and a Crumb-customized “on demand” source of inspiration.
Another place these old masters live is in the musical film clips that started with the experimental sound films of the early 20s and continued on into the talking picture era, when musical acts were filmed for shorts, newsreels, Soundies, feature films, TV Transcriptions, kinescopes and video tape, which unfortunately was usually erased for re-use until it became cheap enough to be shit-canned by TV stations and networks. Still, some of this cultural treasure managed to survive.
Great music was filmed and sometimes accidentally preserved as a by-product of the effort of the mostly musically-clueless film industry to make money. Since most of it was American popular and vernacular styles and wasn’t Mozart (or one of that crowd), there was no concerted effort made by our own institutional archives to collect and preserve this kind of material. Fortunately, the private collectors did what they do better than anyone else (so far) and though most of it has surely been lost, some of it has been at least collected privately, which is the first step in the chain of preservation. You can’t preserve anything that you don’t have to begin with but interesting material is still being turned up as more and more collectors are looking at film for the music. We started collecting music on film over 40 years ago.
The cream of the cream of these musical masters will find their way onto this page. Since everybody everybody knows plays guitar, let’s start out with those cats and with a few other string instruments. Check out Glenn’s Picks archives for more film-flam fun!