August thrift store finds

I’ve been digging through the CDs at the Salvation Army nearby quite a bit in the last year or so. It started out as something to kill time while Amber shopped, but now I kind of enjoy trying to pick out something interesting. It’s an uphill battle against a sea of 10000 Maniacs and Maroon 5. So anyway, here’s the latest incoming class:

History of my Heart

This is the first Suzanne Ciani I’ve ever bought. I think I heard about her through my friend Jacob, but I mostly remember her from this goofy video of her on Letterman in 1980:

Two things really struck me about that clip of her and David Letterman. First, she seems strangely goofy. Maybe it was butterflies from being on national television. It sort of feels like that, now that I think about it.

The second thing that struck me, though, was the immense balls to go on national television while planning to use a Roland MC-8 as part of her demo song. The MC-8 is one of the very first digital sequencers (though not quite the first), and I’ve learned to really respect anyone that’s managed to actually produce a song on this. I bought one a few years ago, and it’s still a love/hate relationship. I think it’s a fascinating piece of equipment, but it’s just SO HARD TO USE. My friend Andrew owns and uses the MC-4, which is sort of the little brother that Roland released after the MC-8. In comparison to the MC-8, the MC-4 feels like a breeze.

Pushing one wrong sequence of buttons on the MC-8 will cause it to menacingly flash all its lights at you in a warning that you just did something wrong. Sometimes I’m able to correct my mistake, but most of the time it seems like there was really no recovery, and I just had to restart the machine.

And so with this volatile, temperamental bleeding-edge piece of technology, Suzanne Ciani went on national television and planned to perform a song with it. I guess I just figured out why she seemed so squirrelly and nervous. I’d be in even worse shape if I were trying to undertake that. Despite some initial hiccups, though, she actually managed to make the machine work. For that, she has earned my respect.

As for the CD, I’ve only listened to it once. Initial field reports are not good, though. I suppose my bar may have been artificially set too high because of the whole MC-8/Letterman thing, but I was kind of unimpressed by the generic 80s/new-age sounding tracks. I’ll put it back on in a couple weeks and give it another listen. Maybe I’ll warm up to it.

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