Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Records & Rarities

I have owned records for more than forty years now, though I only became a serious collector about three years ago. The longest continuing record in my collection is the LP Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck, that I bought in 1976. I still purchase and listen to LPs but I "collect" 45 rpm records in the sense that I'm always looking for rare and unusual artists, labels and songs in that format, and I have little difficulty finding them, mostly at a trio of local records stores in Knoxville.

The embedded playlist below has videos of a few of my favorite rarities. Some of them feature recognizable songs, including one co-written by Merle Haggard and another made famous by Jim Reeves. A few of them were from labels based in East Tennessee and presumably received only a regional release.

My favorite part of sharing these records on YouTube is receiving feedback from viewers, especially those for whom the old records have sentimental value.  I have heard from the daughter of one artist and from a persistent gentleman who bugged me until I sold him a record that he hadn't seen or heard in more than forty years.

Monday, January 21, 2013


The January/February issue of The American Conservative will soon be out with my review of Manufacturing Hysteria. It is appropriate that it come out near the Martin Luther King holiday as the FBI' COINTELPRO harassment of King was one of my topics. I wrote:
The most famous target of Hoover and the FBI was Martin Luther King. The investigation of King was based the assumption that some of his associates were Communists, but the FBI’s level of attention suggests a more personal motivation. Hoover intervened to keep Marquette University from granting King an honorary degree and was especially agitated at King’s winning a Nobel Peace Prize. The bureau’s most egregious abuse of power in this case was a crude attempt to wreck King’s marriage by sending him illegally recorded tapes of his marital in"infidelities, accompanied by a crudely forged letter encouraging him to commit suicide before his “filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
Writing in the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald discusses King's opposition to militarism and the Vietnam war, which should be highlighted along with his views on racism, poverty and civil rights:
King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City - exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work ("Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?"). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.
Here is audio of one of speeches on the war: