So the other day, I was digging through a box of old choral music, and I found this ad on the back of one of the octavos:
This amused me no end, partially because the guy hauling the bananas looks a little like Muammar al-Gaddafi, and partially because I was imagining my church choir—HEY, WAIT A MINUTE, ALAN ARKIN WROTE THE BANANA BOAT SONG?!
Well, yes and no. As it turns out, prior to his acting career, Arkin (who's a hero around Soho the Dog HQ on the basis of The In-Laws alone—serpentine!) was part of a folk trio called The Tarriers, who released a version of "Day-O" in 1956. Harry Belafonte's better-known version, already recorded but still sitting on the shelf, was rushed into release after The Tarriers' rendition became a hit. Some poking around the Web turned up a guy who's gathered more than you'll ever need to know on the topic.
But it was while I was chasing down that topic that I found Mento Music. "Mento" is the Jamaican name for the pre-reggae style of music that made it to these shores in somewhat gussied-up form as Calypso, and Mento Music's webmaster, Michael Garnice, is a fan—an obsessive, exhaustive fan. And after seeing several hours disappear down the rabbit hole exploring the site and perusing the dozens of sound clips (RealPlayer only, but it's worth it) I'm a fan, too. So now there's a couple hours of vintage mento crowding up my hard drive, and, at least until this enthusiasm burns out, I'll be hanging out with the likes of Lord Flea, Lord Messam, and Harold Richardson & the Ticklers.
Aaaaannd that was time that really needed to be spent practicing. I swear, someday somebody's going to load my house on a truck and drive off with it by distracting me with shiny objects.