Friday, October 12, 2007

le Bibliothèque nationales du Québec

Last week me and French Panic took the metro machine to the library... the national bibliothèque. It was terribly exciting as we have been talking about doing this 20 minute trip for about 2 years now.

I forgot about the excitement that a library offers. All those books, albums and movies. All borrowed for free. Everyone playing along with the rules of the library, helped by all the nicely dressed and quiet security folk.

I think this sort building is what the United Nations meant to do for the world.

Because we like to spend Saturdays getting nothing much done at all, we only had about 40 minutes to look around. The 30 minute warning came not long after we found the music collection.

I grabbed whatever looked vaguely like reggae in a panic. Apparently it falls into the category of world music. By definition, isn’t all music world music? Or is most music coming from off planet now?

When I think world music, I think of that crazy hippy chick I dated briefly before ‘a wall came between us’ (that’s what she told me. I never saw the wall, but I’m quite grateful that I ran into it.) She would dance to anything earthy and chastise me for not joining in. But the world music always seemed to combine pan flutes, rain sticks and white hippies badly banging on bongo drums... and I never really got it. That and the neo-hippie attitude that looked down on everything, abandoning pot and electricity while constantly trying to outdo each other.

All that to say that Toots Hibbert and the Maytals are not world music. Toots created the term reggae, and that’s something pretty special.

So the album I grabbed was True Love. It is one of those duet albums where other, often more mainstream names, pay tribute by singing along. Mostly I regard these cds with about the same contempt as best of albums which are for housewives and little girls (I stole that quip from Bruce McCulloch).

However, I didn’t see Bono’s name in the liner notes, so I grabbed it.

It is rare that a reworking of a classic ever exceeds the original, but I’m happy to report that this duet/tribute album comes very close. Funky Kingston which matches Toots and the Maytals with Bootsy Collins and the Roots, is as good as that song will ever get for me... short of them all playing together on stage, in front of me, and some friends, probably. It would be real creepy if it was just me. I don’t think I’d like that so much.

All this excitement from one visit to the national library.

Next Saturday I’m gonna tackle the graphic novel corner... thousands of comics just sitting on shelves. Then I’ll come home and sit in my tub listening to Toots while I read book after book. My ex-hippy girlfriend would never approve.

So go to your local bibliothèque, now 85% hippy free.

No comments: