Friday, June 12, 2009

Goth Fame Leadeth Not To Fortune: Spooky Synchronicity Edition

Raise your hand if you’re old enough to remember the days before music downloads, when you had to buy an entire CD ($15.99 or more) to get just one song you actually liked. These days I still have an ancient collection of one-song-wonder discs stored in their dusty jewel boxes on an out-of-the-way shelf in my room.

Last night I rummaged through the collection for the first time in years, and found a 1998 disc I’d all but forgotten about: As one aflame laid bare by desire from the band “Black Tape For A Blue Girl,” on a Goth label called Projekt Records. (Most Projekt bands and albums had names like that. Goths are capital-d Deep.) I saw Black Tape perform along with several other musicians at the Projekt Festival concert some Manhattan Goth club hosted around the turn of the millennium; I think that’s where I bought the CD.

My One Song on the album is “Russia,” which I set in my stereo to play as background music while I idly surfed the Internet. As the long, long piano riff started off the song, I turned my online attention to an article Emily Bazelon wrote for the New York Times about the plight of freelance workers in this recession:
On a rainy morning in April, Lisa Feuer took the subway to the Brooklyn Dojo, a martial-arts studio where she was scheduled to teach a mommy-baby yoga class. Outside, streams of water poured from awnings into the collars of passers-by. When she got to the studio, Feuer shook out her umbrella and picked out music from her iPhone to play for the class. But in the next 20 minutes, no one else showed up.
Lisa Feuer? Sounds vaguely familiar, I thought, though I had no idea how I'd know a Brooklyn yoga teacher. Maybe I'm thinking of that Max Headroom guy? Matt Freuer or something. The piano solo dragged on and on. Only then did I remember how I never cared much for the song's slow beginning; back in the days when I included that One Song on mix tapes, I always started it around the 3:30 mark.

All this flashed through my mind in a second as I continued reading the story:
When Feuer started teaching yoga four and a half years ago, when she was 38, it seemed like the perfect entree to a life of free agency. Feuer spent most of her 30s working for her husband’s goth record label doing publicity and promotion. When they divorced in 2005, she wanted a job that gave her some of the same independence that he had. “I’d watched my husband go into business for himself, and I felt like I could do it, too,” she said.
Goth record label? I pulled the liner-notes booklet out of the CD jewel box, at the exact moment the flute-solo part of the song began.

Behold: Lisa Feuer was the flautist in Black Tape for a Blue Girl. Her now-ex-husband, Sam, fronted the band and owned the label that published it. And I suddenly remembered speaking briefly to Lisa and Sam at the Projekt Festival, since it turned out we knew a couple of the same people there.

I hadn’t thought of them in years, or played their song either, until the exact moment I found Lisa in the New York Times as a freelance yoga teacher whose customers can no longer afford her services in today’s economy, and Sam mentioned obliquely as the guy paying part of her rent.
Even in her best years, Feuer was never affluent, but with child support she was able to live what she considered a middle-class life. This year, however, because of the classes and students she has lost, Feuer is on track to make as little as $15,000, a 30 percent drop from the past. But because she is underemployed rather than out of work, she is not eligible for unemployment insurance. She also doesn’t show up in the unemployment statistics.
She hadn’t shown up in my memory, either, not anytime recently. I hadn’t thought of the band, song or festival in years, until I dug out that old CD seconds before reading about the former flautist from the long-ago Projekt Festival now illustrating an economic trend for the Times.

Spooky synchronicity. For the musicians’ sake, I won’t play anymore of my One-Song Wonder discs until the economy improves.

3 Comments:

Blogger rhhardin said...

I always listened to Helmut Krebs's Monteverdi L'Orfeo doing homework, in the 50s.

Recently rereleased on CD, mp3 version here.

The interesting thing is that every note is familiar to me after a 50 year gap. Nice of them to rescue the tapes.

More modern performances always sound like they're the wrong tempo or some other difference.

Play the whole thing quickly with the Play All button.

It's the only opera I like.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Stevo Darkly said...

I've heard of Black Tape for a Blue Girl before ... but I have no idea where/how/why.

FYI, you can hear that song "Russia" in its entirety by going to http://www.last.fm/music/Black+Tape+for+a+Blue+Girl/_/Russia?autostart

It strikes me as rather an awesome song, long piano intro and all.

(And by clicking on "Tracks" to the left, you can hear a lot more by them. I might have to do this myself.)

On Mother's Day I experienced some really weird music synchronicity. It's the kind of really weird coincidence that makes it hard not to believe the dead can't communicate with the living sometimes.

I've never been able to tell the story to anyone. It's kind of long, and it's hard to appreciate how really unlikely a coincidence it is without knowing something about my current radio listening habits. Plus the story would have to begin, "There's this old song by the Offspring that always reminds me of when my mom died ..." and it gets more ridiculous from there.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Sam Rosenthal said...

That's interesting synchronicity. Add to it the fact that I got a google alert about it moments ago and now the loop is complete! ; )

The band is still together, we're based in Brooklyn. I have an entirely new line-up of musicians on the upcoming new album 10 NEUROTICS (Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Athan Maroulis ex-Spahn Ranch, Laurie Reade ex-Attrition, & Nicki Jaine) --though Lisa does play flute on the 2009 recreation of the track "Tell Me You've Taken Another" from AS ONE AFLAME.

Stay well, and thanks for saving my CD all those years.

Sam

blacktapeforabluegirl.com

5:14 PM  

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