I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces music in vernacular photographs, 1880-1955
I collect vintage photographs so imagine my excitement when I saw the book I listen to the wind that obliterates my traces : music in vernacular photographs, 1880-1955. Not everyone understands the desire to own photos of other folk's ancestors. Author Steve Roden clearly knows this pleasure. He has combined the 150 snapshots, tintypes, cabinet cards, RPPC real photo postcards with a two CD compilation of 51 deeply moving older gospel and blues songs. Listening to his musical choices I'm reminded of the blog post I did on Blind Willie Johnson. All the photographs and recordings in the book are from Roden's personal collection.
It's a book designed to give pleasure to a variety of senses - the eye, the ear and the hand. It's a beautifully tactile object - the covers are thick cardboard - the size is easy to handle and a bit unusual at 6.5 x 8.5 inches - it has a nice heft without being heavy. To quote the publisher Dust to Digital: our mission is to produce high-quality, cultural artifacts, which combine rare, essential recordings with historic images and detailed texts describing the artists and their works.
Looking at this book you get a strong sense of Roden's inspirational vision. The joy of being in the Internet age is you're no longer limited to his book. If you want to know more about him you can see his webpage and also his blog. You can read other blogger's comments about the book and with the Amazon peek inside the book to see more photos. His work as a musician is strongly linked to his work as an artist.
My only regret is that while the music on the CDs is listed in detail there is no similar description of the photographs to give any background about them. While they stimulate you visually and even give a sense of wonder as to the sitters and their journey to Roden's collection there is no context or scholarly examination.
Above is an image from my personal collection - quite damaged yet all the more charming for that - circa 1920s - American .. bought in Clarence just outside Buffalo New York in 2008. Enjoy.