2003   NOVEMBER 6   #310

Harry and Hugo - I'm Tired of the Old Life / Johnny Contananti / Catfish Swimmin / The Ambulance Composition / The Woody Song / Mr Scarecrow Wakes Up His People / The Circus Day / Punk Rock Song

I have always loved unusual recordings, especially odd home recordings, so I was very happy when my identical twin sons presented me with the chance to make some of my own!

Harry and Hugo were raised on some unusual music by most of the standards — their favorites from early childhood have included Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall, They Might Be Giants, Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald, and British soundtrack composer Barry Gray. We never really listen to the radio; all they hear in the car are tapes of mine that would probably be considered eclectic.

They have always shown a keen grasp of music and their musical memory is such that they can access incidental tunes from TV shows that they saw years ago and hum them. As a three year old, Hugo was listening to the rhythms of playground swings and picking out Monk tunes in them. At the same time, Harry was developing something he called "click music" which entailed him humming a melody coupled with tongue clicks to sometimes cover the rhythms, other times to stand in for breaks.

At some point, we gave them a toy guitar and accordian (they wanted to play John and John) and didn't think much of it.They began to orchestrate their own songs and I began to tape them for posterity.

Usually, they would come up with a song structure and improvise lyrics. They would stick to one theme with the lyrics, like fishing or screwdrivers or cars. As time went on, their lyrics became more complicated and their choice of musical instruments expanded. Sometimes they would enlist family members to provide accompaniment, other times they would handle things on their own. Harry usually plays guitar, Hugo accordian or keyboards, or acapella.

After watching the documentary Theremin when they were 7, they latched onto an old turntable in an aging console stereo I had found by the side of the road. They figured out a way to get an buzzing sound by manipulating the turntable and its arm. They have begun to use it in their music when it strikes them to make music. They call it the Mitchellmin.

Most of the recordings here date from the age of 5.

Anyhow, their mother can wrestle with a guitar a little and I can't play a damn thing.

- John E. Mitchell, www.johnandjana.com, info@johnandjana.com

TT-7:03 / 9.7MB / 192kbps 44.1khz

(Image courtesy of John E. Mitchell)