One Thing Leads to Another – Part II
Edison is an easy, if somewhat fraught, choice for a name for a product to do with electricity. The famous namesake tried for many years to horse through his cylinder recording system over the superior disc system of Emile Berliner and, as I spin the multi-Berliner-formatted set of Ryan Adams live at Carnegie Hall on my turntable, I think back to the last time I sat in my darkened listening room beholding the magic of verisimilitude emanating from my Edison cylinder player. My goodness, it must have been during the (Teddy) Roosevelt administration. But T. Alva does get credit for the light bulb. And a good many other things, his or others’ appropriated by him. And now he lends his name again in the world of sound reproduction to an electrical outlet that is actually a hifi component. Who would have thought?
The changes wrought in my listening pleasure by Sunday and Monday’s labor installing the Edison in my wall are definable largely as making the reproducing equipment disappear even more in the process of bringing recordings to life. Small bits and shouts are more vivid and arresting. That latter is no small feat. I am used to these peripheral changes digging more details and echo trails out of performances, but letting Ryan shout instead of feeling as if the stereo were shouting at me is really satisfying in a way that I did not expect would follow my installation of a new “outlet.”
I saw Jason Isbell last night, speaking of living American male talented singer songwriters who at one time may have flirted or more with and may still adopt from time to time country music themes. Man, he’s a yeller at times. In the most best Alabama way that we Up Here could probably use a lot more of. By “yeller” I mean he can sing damn loud, absolutely perfectly and clear as a bell on pitch, even if just for a moment of emphasis, but it came across last night as really a special quality. He can belt. And belting is cool, especially used judiciously as he does. And my stereo now lets him belt in my house in a way that didn’t happen before Edison.
And Stravinsky belts too, now. And Archie Shepp. And Ani Difranco. And when they get small, they all get really small. Way down in the dust region. There is stuff happening there I have never heard before. And it all lights me on fire in a way that is worth WAY more than $150. Plus labor.