Thursday, January 6, 2011

How Google, Wikipedia, and the Web Kill Conversations Before They Start

Last night after work I stopped by the thrift store on the way home, where I came across this album, Rock 'N Roll with "Scat Man". The back cover confirmed what I thought--it's "Scat Man" Crothers. Then I was stumped. I knew he was on a television show back in the 70s. That's how I knew him. But I couldn't think of which TV show. Twenty years ago, I would've had to call a friend to get the answer to such confounding questions. It's one of those trivial things that would gnaw on your mind. You had to get the answer if you wanted your mind to move on to other things. Now, there's Google and Wikipedia and the rest of the worldwide web to answer all your questions. You don't have to rely on the collective knowledge of your friends to put your mind to ease. I could just go home and look it up. I realized that this is not such a good thing. I remember such questions about trivia were launching pads into longer conversations. For example, the "Scat Man" question might raise the story of how we all went to see The Shining together and one of us (not me) screamed like a little girl during the scene where "Scat Man" gets an axe in the chest. Thanks to Google and Wikipedia, we get all the facts, but none of the colorful personal details that a call to a friend may have raised.

And how is the "Scat Man" album? It's rollicking fun. He reminds me of Louis Jordan, although "Scat Man" doesn't quite have Jordan's vocal range. He makes up for it with joyous exuberance. I'm constantly amazed at how these 50s records sound. (This one was recorded in 1956.) The sound is so full and alive. Last night I was listening to a CD from Ornette Coleman's Beauty Is a Rare Thing box set (absolutely great by the way) and was impressed by how good it sounded for a CD. I played it again after listening to the "Scat Man" LP, but this time it sounded thin and washed out. Do I have to get original pressings of Ornette's Atlantic albums now? I think we all know the answer.

Oh, the TV show was Chico and the Man in case you didn't know. Now you don't have to Google it.

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