Track of the Day: 'Things Are Worse in Russia'

By Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones

Past TracksIf it's true that the Internet breeds narcissists, then how does that explain the prevalence of everyman ethnomusicologists--those digital preservationists who digitally encode any unfound musical oddities they come across for posterity? Sites like Excavated Shellac focus on old 78 recordings of vernacular and folk songs with little consideration for the egos of the site's contributors. Their descriptions aren't an opportunity to flaunt the writer's flowery prose, but a chance at educating the populace about heretofore unacknowledged corners of the world.

And within their findings they come across gems like Amalia Molina's feverishly mad castanet playing on La Disputada or this fantastic story-song by turn-of-the-century music-hall singer Sam Mayo. He was called the "The Immobile One" as he was known for staying perfectly still onstage while he sang self-referential comic ditties with particularly depressing lyrics. "Things are Worse in Russia" is one of his more optimistic tunes where he consoles the depressed suffering from dog bites and indigestion with the knowledge that things are terrible halfway around the world.

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