Monday, 26 May 2008

The Forked Groove

In the late-1960s, the split-grooved records released by the Hamburg-based Jugendlich Records proved to be a popular, if passing, fad. These were standard 7 inch vinyl singles, whose spiral groove diverged into two pathways, typically after the second chorus, thereby offering different endings to the same song – one happy and one sad, depending on which channel the stylus slipped into.

Jugendlich’s output consisted of cover versions of popular English language songs of the time, performed by an in-house band. The additional lyrics necessary for the alternative endings were written by the label owner, Giselle Lehrer. As the records wore-in, the needle would naturally favour one groove over the other, until, eventually, the less-played track would be completely sidelined and could only be induced to play by manually positioning the toner arm over the neglected part of the disc.

In a self-penned newspaper article, written shortly before her death in 2005, Lehrer (then a leading designer of meta-instruments) spoke of the rationale behind Jugendlich:

“When I was a little girl, one of the records that my parents used to play regularly was called Adrien et Isabelle. It was a French song about a boy and a girl who grow up in the same town and who eventually become lovers. The record held fond memories for my parents as they had danced to it on their honeymoon. Sometimes at night I would lie in bed and I would hear it playing downstairs. I used to sing my own words to the music. On other occasions I would imagine different endings to the song or I would make up stories about what happened to Adrien and Isabelle as they grew older.

When I started Jugendlich it was an attempt to recapture this brief moment in my childhood when my imagination and my notions of reality shared an equal footing.”


Archie Valparaiso said...

I'm still waiting for Mr H to wake up to one of life's self-evident truths and offer you a column, but in the meantime, yes, this'll do very nicely, ta.

(Suggestion box: Why not put up the Xavier de Maistre saga - oy, where is Part Four? - and the English Channel story here as well?)

And have you come up with a way to publicise this blog among the Word massive without incurring la colère du Frase? (I only ask because I've got, ahem, much the same problem.)

backwards7 said...

Thank you Archie,

The main purpose of this blog is to keep me busy, by writing about something that interests me. I've linked to it on a few sites and will obviously be pleased if people read it, however online glory is not my key motivation.

The WORD message board is about conversation and content rather than personalities. Apart from the link in my profile, I'm not going to promote this blog there.

Over the next few weeks I'll start moving relevant material over from the WORD. It will give me breathing space to finish the new ideas that I've been working on.