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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

An unusual but nostalgia-inducing email...

I received an email this morning - I have no idea who it was from, but it read thus:

A few years ago a few friends of mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania received a letter with no return address. It contained a blank c.d. with about 10 tracks on it. Most of these tracks were awful sounds and children singing out of key, or bad pop-punk. The last track however, was 'sent fishing by your neighbor'. We listened to this track over and over, and while investigating it, someone decided to rewind the track using the search button. It clearly spoke sent fishing by your neighbor while played backwards. And forward search as well. This only worked on my stereo. Then the c.d. mysteriously disappeared. I just discovered your web page. Is this intentional? If not, you should be aware of your spooky powers. You have them. We want to know if our parachute works. Does it work? I have to know now. If it doesn't work, what am I supposed to do? Think about my death? You tell me friend.

- Your Friend,
the Hubble space telescope.

This email refers to a piece of music that was created by a small collection of us (Suzanne, Beth, me, Ed and Beth's Mum) on a Monday evening as a contribution to MP3.com, a site which encouraged musicians to submit their own music, and showcased it to the world. In fact, at one point it even gave royalty payments for every time a track was played.

It was possible to create publically sharable 'playlists' of favourite songs, and it wasn't long until someone came up with the idea of collecting together the weaker, cringier and generally outsider songs onto a playlist, calling it "The Worst Of The Worst." This caught my imagination - along with a short-lived WFMU programme called The Incorrect Music Show, and one Monday evening, a small group of us got together to record our own interpretation something that was a little.. unusual, in the hope of getting onto the Worst Of The Worst list.

What was quite amazing was that Time magazine published an article on the Worst Of The Worst collection, and cited our song "Sent Fishing By Your Neighbour" as an 'alternadirge'. Unfortunately, the page is no longer available - I am fairly sure I scanned in the article, though... I wonder if I can find it.

edit: Thanks to Paul from Macsessed.com, here is the article in Time Magazine... great find, sir!


The work of Offwight Radiator, although somewhat hard to digest, is still available, although the band is on hiatus, so can no longer do personalised performances.

I'll mention in passing that another band that made it onto the Worst Of The Worst playlist was "PritStik" - a pair of Scottish siblings who recorded some lo-fi pop when they were about the age Chris and Lenni are now. MP3.com enabled musicians to create bespoke CDs with their music, making it available on 'hard copy' - I am one of (I believe) very few owners of the whole PritStik album. I wonder where PritStik Mik and PritStik Mej are now... MP3.com was sold in 2001 to Vivendi, and no longer encourages people to upload their own music.. the content was sold to Garageband.com, which is now part of iLike/MySpace. Ten years ago there was an internet phenomenon - it's just so odd that I got an echo of it this morning, but it brings back some wonderful memories.

What an interesting way to start a weekend, though... whoever sent that email: thank you! (I may have to ask the children to perform a moving tribute to it later, as a tribute to PritStik...)

Posted by james at August 6, 2011 8:41 AM

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