A Long Journey Over Broken Borders: from the Chicago Tapes to the Digital West

by John R. Campbell

A Long Journey Over Broken Borders: from the Chicago Tapes to the Digital West by John R. Campbell
There were a few years there–the late 60’s and early 70’s–when underground FM radio thrived in Chicago. FM was new then, not yet corporate, and it offered, on weak frequencies, some very eclectic and adventurous broadcasting. I’d stay up late at night and record from the radio—musicians I’d never heard, but who fascinated me: Sibelius, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Skip James, Ornette Coleman, Doc Boggs. The tapes had no genre boundaries or even taste parameters, really–half the time I didn’t even know if I exactly liked the stuff I was recording. I didn’t yet have enough musical context to fully appreciate it. But I craved the soundscapes the tapes created. Avant garde and folk musics seemed much the same to me. It was all musical texture—fresh and new, especially the stuff that was old.

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