Friday Morning Download – "ABC (remixed)" by The Jackson 5

My freshman students this year were BORN in 1985… just let that fact sink in for sec…

This is a generation for whom the notion of “cut and paste” has never entailed picking up a pair of scissors. Wired magazine recently trumpeted the “cut and paste” cultural revolution in its July 2005 issue with the likes of cyberpunk godfather William Gibson stating that modern cultural history from the Beat poets through to the the JarJar-less “Phantom Edit” is nothing novel, but a mash-up of influences remixed for easy consumption and instant access.

The latest celebration of remixing on my iPod is “Motown Remixed” which is the respinning and mashing up of Motown artists by DJs, Hip Hop, and Trip Hop artists. As I have mentioned in previous Friday Morning Downloads, the art of the cover song is truly a sacramental engagement. Does the artist attempt to honor the original artist by merely mimicing every aspect of the song as it was first recorded… or is honoring the original artist by taking the direction set by the song and adding a new signature? Much of this comes to how we understand the sacraments in themselves I suppose…

Take the remixed version of the Jackson 5’s classic “ABC”. When the DJ remixed the song, he didn’t crush the song under the weight of additional techno funk. Rather, to discover the song, he opened it up – separating each track from each other then systematically relaying the tracks with time delay of macroseconds to give ‘space’. The bass and drum loops give room and don’t crowd. What I heard anew in this remix was the amazing innocence in Michael Jackson’s voice. However, what is also telling is the minor key Indian bhangra-enhanced chimes that give the all-too-knowing sound that this young boy is doomed to live a minor key. Indeed, given what has happened, it is at times painful and at times illuminating to let this young voice be young once again. Sometimes we need to remix the past to truly appreciate how far we have come… or how far we have fallen…

[If want to sample the remixed samples on “Motown Remixed” you can stream Oliver Wang’s review of the CD from NPR’s Morning Edition here. ]

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