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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hussalonia Song # 16: Neglect Has Turned Me Orange And Brown, But You Have Made Me Blue

I'm not sure if I'm just imagining the similarity, but whenever the vocal part of "Neglect Has Turned Me Orange And Brown, But You Have Made Me Blue" starts up just after the one minute mark, I'm strongly reminded of the Tom Waits song "Innocent When You Dream." Thematically I can't think of any such similarity, but something about the tune sounds to me at least slightly reminiscent of the Waits song.

This, "Abide With Me," "I Want To Be An Owl" and "Home On The Range" are my personal favorite tracks on this album, though this and "Abide With Me" are both very short. The vocal part of this song in particular doesn't start until near the end, and it only lasts roughly 45 seconds or so. Still, short though it is, it is short and sweet, as are much of Hussalonia's recordings.

While a robot is doing the singing of the tracks on both Hussalonia Robot Singers albums, I find myself imagining the different everyday appliances, imbued with some AI-higher consciousness, that might possibly be the source of the robot voice. Now, as I referenced in the previous entry, there is a fascinating explanation for the history of the Hussalonia Robot Singers, but I feel that the trio of singing robots are like so many great troubadours, singing for those without a voice. Johnny Cash became the Man in Black to sing for the poor, underprivileged, abused and those taken advantage of, Bob Dylan told us the stories of the Hurricane and poor Hattie Carol and Hollis Brown. The Hussalonia Robot Singers, however, tell us the stories of our modern mechanical servants, our toasters, blenders, and barbeque grills and all of the neglect and abuse they suffer.

When I think of a neglected machine turning orange and brown (and feeling blue about it) I think of a grill. Something, perhaps, went wrong with it. The burgers didn't turn out quite right. So you just tossed it out. It was a cheap-o anyway, you said; you found it on sale and then haggled to get it for even less, and that's all it's worth to you. So when the first sign of the most minor trouble appeared, you'd rather not waste your own precious time. So you toss it. It's time for a new one, you think. You leave it outside with a cardboard sign that says "FREE." It stands there by the side of the road, sign propped up next to the leg, homeless. The rain comes, the ink runs off the sign and the rust starts. Nobody wants it now. Then, it is finally picked up…by the garbage collector.

To think, of all things, it only wanted to be used, to do a good job for you, to help you make a delicious summer meal. Now it is the dead of winter and it rusts to death in the dump.

"It's only an object," you say, "it's not like it was a person I tossed aside, or even an animal. What's the big deal?"

Maybe nothing, maybe it is not a big deal at all. Yet…it might be worth considering, that perhaps there is some significance in how we treat the things. Things are "just things" to us, yet even the things crafted for a utilitarian purpose are products of human effort, products, perhaps, of one of many in a great, assembly-line human machine of production. It may be worth a thought, the idea of what it means to treat with such carelessness that which one's fellow human beings have produced. It was, I believe, the Czech filmmaker and stop-motion animator Jan Svankmejer that once remarked, when asked about the items he brought to life in his stop-motion animations, that he chose old items only, because in those he got the most sense of, I think he said, identity, or spirit from them, some sort of history inside them. After all, in all that we use, in all that we create, isn't there some blood, sweat, and tears?

Isn't there some spirit?

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