I do like requests. Bring ‘em on. If there’s a particular recording or performer you wistfully recall from my old radio show that you think would make a good feature here, drop me a line. Of course, my intent is to do more with this blog than rehash the rehash the contents of the old show, so general requests for particular genres of amateur audio might be helpful, and give you a voice in the proceedings here. You wanna hear some drunk people? Answering machine tapes? Loopy kids hopped on sugar? Arguments? Voice practice? Hypnosis? You just let me know. I won’t promise I’ll post anything in particular, but it would be nice to have a sack of suggestions to reach into now and then.
I’m starting to get a grip on how much different it’s going to be to for me to offer items from my collection of found sound on the web now, as compared to when I started featuring these kinds of recordings on the radio in 1999. For one thing, I can’t obsessively listen to amateur audio all the time like I did back then. Truth told, it kind of drove me crazy. Nowadays I get all the lunacy I can handle keeping up with our three year old here at the house, and all the surrealism that entails. So I have to make planned attacks on the collection. I can’t wade around in it all the time like I used to.
While it’s no secret that some amateur recordings can drive you batty (or put you to sleep), but there are a few with curative powers. Like the “Kitty Love Songs” of Terry McMahon. When I made up a short list of possible initial posts, I’d already included these. And then when I recently got an email suggesting I feature them, I moved ‘em to the front of the queue.
And then in posting this, I’m possibly tripping over a new threshold in all my years of presenting found recordings. Not surprisingly, every once in awhile I’ve gotten online to try and see if I could track down a few of the characters I’ve heard on found recordings. It’s not something I obsess over, but every now and then curiosity gets the best of me and I do a little searching. I’ve actually located maybe a handful of people online that way, but I’ve never attempted to contact any of them. Why should I? But by posting these recordings up on the searchable info grid of mankind I realize that the inverse will eventually occur, and some of these artifacts are going to find their creators. It might happen with this post. I see Mr. McMahon has a website or two.
I discovered these recordings toward the end of a little road trip I took in the summer of 2002. Despite plenty of thrifting explorations and excavations through Maine and New Hampshire, I hadn’t found one tape worthy tape of purchase until I came across this gem in Manchester, New Hampshire. With handwritten titles like “Secret Agent Cat” and “There Will Always Be Kitty Love Songs,” I really didn’t have to pop it in the walkman to know I was going to take it home. But I did, and it was even better than I imagined.
Terry McMahon – 01 – Kitty Love Songs
Terry McMahon – 02 – People Who Like My Cat
These songs are as simple and silly as they are sincere. The sense of humor is cornball– good-natured with almost no irony. And the arrangements are good too. Is it kid’s music? Maybe. But it’s really more than that.
Terry McMahon – 03 – Koko’s Kitten
It’s the true story of “All Ball” the kittycat and that sign-language talkin’ Gorilla, Koko. Some meaningful cross-species diplomacy going on here. After all, “love is a language that all of us know.” Deep stuff. And from the narrative details captured in his lyrics I’d wager that Terry probably owned the book.
Terry McMahon – 04 – Scaredy Cats
Terry McMahon – 05 – Pepper’s Song
This next one is a kooky shuffle with a Biblical theme, where he implores Noah to make sure he gets a fertile pair of every cat breed on the big boat.
Terry McMahon – 06 – Cat’s Off The Ark
While I had done a web search on McMahon a few years ago which was inconclusive (there’s a number of them out there), in preparation for this post I also did a cursory search for “Kitty Love Songs." However, it seems that he put a few of his kitty tunes online, which certainly confirms his identity. Actually, these next three songs are the ones Terry himself chose to feature on his site.
Terry McMahon – 07 – Molly Malone
The next two songs were my immediate favorites on this album. The first, “In Kittyland,” is the description of a mythic utopia, from a cat’s point of view. But the message is universal. And apparently this song has brought great comfort to some. As McMahon somberly notes, it has “been used for quite a few kitty funerals.”
Terry McMahon – 08 – In Kittyland
I guess if there is a heaven, it might as well be Kittyland.
Terry McMahon – 09 – Secret Agent Cat
The next four songs are more or less filler in my opinion. Although the short overture and sonata have their charm. The only song on the album I could really do without is the ill-conceived “Cat Dancing Song.” Or maybe I’m just not a fan of perky tracks with sped-up vocals.
Terry McMahon – 10 – Praise the Irish Cat
Terry McMahon – 11 – Cat Dancing Song
Terry McMahon – 12 – The Kitty Overture
Terry McMahon – 13 – The Kitty Sonata
Terry McMahon – 14 – There Will Always Be Kitty Love Songs
He has two websites based on an online video project of his– “BCNU-TV” (Be seein’ you??), but since March of 2007 there seems to have been zero activity on either one. And when I see sites come to an abrupt end without notice or goodbye notes, it always makes me wonder.
Assuming everything’s A-OK, I suppose I’ll hear from Mr. McMahon soon, or he’ll hear from me. And Terry, if you’re reading this now and haven’t figured it out yet, let me be specific– I salute you. And if I never come across a message from you in my inbox, perhaps I’ll run into you in that place where the window sills are wide. And there are no fleas. In Kittyland.
And to end this on a lighter note as well as ratchet up the entertainment value of the post another notch, here’s a dance number which may feature Terry himself, in costume. However be warned. It’s a little spicy.