EVERY RECORD EVER RECORDED!!! A Field Guide to the Music of Earth


#1: REBETIKA with Christos Govetas
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In which we discuss hashish, tuberculosis, the evolution of the bouzouki and the death of the Ottoman Empire, all by way of understanding Greek urban folk music of the 1920s and 1930s.



Christos put together an excellent Youtube playlist that includes most of the songs played in the course of the show, plus many more. As far as bands currently playing, keep an eye on Rebetien and the duo of Mitarakis/Skoutas. And Christos' many musical groups include a rebetika project called Pasatempo.



Reading about music! Dancing about architecture! Try Markos Vamvakaris' unreliable and mightily entertaining autobiography, which he dictated to a fan in the last year of his epic life. "The most comprehensively written book on rebetika" is Gail Holst's Road to Rembetika, half genre history and half song lyrics (in Greek and in translation) Then there is Elias Petropoulos' Rebetika Tragoudia (in Greek), the publication of which landed him in jail under the military junta of 1967-74 - if you don't read Greek, Petropoulos also wrote a short history of the genre which has been translated into English. Christos says "As for Petropoulos, here's a great great documentary on him and his work: An absolute MUST, to watch all the way to the end. When I was young I was consumed by reading every book he wrote. His perspective was (and still is) infinitely fascinating to me."



If you want to learn to sing the songs yourself, Stixoi.info is an enormous treasure trove of lyrics which includes many rebetika songs - all in Greek, naturally. Google Translate is helpful with transliteration, but its attempts at making English sense of ninety-year-old Greek slang prove that there is, thank heavens, still some knowledge that eludes the robots. Sealabs (also in Greek, but navigable via translator) has a wealth of information, including downloadable sound recordings for many songs. And you may also find some assistance in learning to play here or here.



If you're madly in love with the music and money is no object, head to Greece! Christos says "Athens is definitely the place, with many rebetika taverns to visit, great revivalist musicians but Thessaloniki's "Η Πριγγιπεσσα" ("The princess") is a great rebetiko hang-out too."



The great Roza Eskenazi in possibly the greatest band photo of all time




the earth floating in space, serenaded by a vast gramophone