I’ve tapped out plenty of words about the glory of having ready access to an array of new music in my college radio days, an advantage of the gig that has been somewhat blunted by the clicking immediacy of the internet that has emerged in the years since. But the wild west of the worldwide web lacks the intensely personal recommendations that I found in those poster-adorned hallways of my past. The algorithms will keep improving, but I doubt they’ll ever truly catch up to a pal with different music tastes who alights on just the right track to share as an entryway to an artist.
My college radio station had a helluva a jazz collection when I arrived. I remember someone saying the tightly packed room of records stood as one of the finest jazz libraries in the state, at least in terms of broadcast outlets. Though I had a health respect for the form, I stood well outside of it. My own lack of musical ability and commensurate knowledge always made me feel like I was missing out on the intricacies of what was contained in those grooves. I could let it was over me, but I’d never properly understand it.
But I was also the guy who co-hosted the movie review show at the station, so that could be one of my secret doors in, whether locking on in relevant soundtracks or connecting with an artist through prominent use of their music in individuals films. Then there was the unique instant when the station’s jazz director came up to me and essentially said, “Hey, you like movies. Listen to this song about movies!” And that’s how I first knowingly heard Mose Allison.
“What’s Your Movie” is admittedly a little cheesy, but that’s part of its charm. The indifference to adopting some veneer of manufactured cool was perfectly in keeping with Allison’s commitment to do whatever he wanted musically rather than chasing avenues that were lucratively popular. As Nate Chinen noted in the New York Times obituary for Allison published this week, “For all of his elder-statesman eminence in rock, Mr. Allison never stopped seeing himself as a jazz artist.” Even if the nuances of time signatures and the interplay of major and minor chords would be forever out of my intellectual grasp, I could understand that lovely purity of intent.
Listen or download –> Mose Allison, “What’s Your Movie”
(Disclaimer: I also know this about jazz music, or at least the catalogues of jazz artists: I’m never going to be able to figure out of a single track is in print as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store. The material gets packaged and repackaged endlessly. But I can present this shared song here as encouragement to go to the previously mentioned record store and buy whatever Allison music is at the ready, either sitting nicely on the shelf or available for order. So that’s what I’m doing. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)