Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


Today I worked very hard on the numerous work projects which enliven my December. I felt really good about the progress I made. As I worked, e mails arrived in response to my queries about CD duplication. The duplication lab in Austin could do the job at a reasonable price. When I printed out the intellectual property agreement, however, I found that I faced the "Guadalajara" problem.

"Guadalajara" is a staple of the mariachi repertoire, a wonderful song with staccato horns in which the singer assures us in Spanish of amazing facts like how Guadalajara is on the plain and how he thinks a lot of its shopping suburb Tlaquepaque, too. You kinda have to be there, but it's still a great song. Somehow, in my mind, "Guadalajara" dated from the late 19th Century, the dawn of mariachi's precursor forms, and, more significantly, an era as to which all songs are by now in the public domain, as it is only in recent times that a mouse living in an amusement park has lobbied the authorities to stop things from going into the public domain through endless inappropriate renewals. I recorded a song not identical to, but clearly based upon, "Guadalajara", only it was, if I do say so myself, much cooler, if we define "cooler" very loosely and with more than a bit of kazoo razoo.

But as I collected my song list the other night, filled with songs with "public domain safe" authors like Charles Wesley, "traditional", and King Henry VIII, I found that "Guadalajara" dates only from 1936. This caused me tremendous consternation, as I think it is entirely possible for 1936 songs to be copyrighted still, although for historical reasons I won't go into here (not wishing, among other things, for anyone to think of this post as legal advice), pragmatically folks often failed to get their songs copyrighted properly in that earlier time.

I went to the Copyright Office website, and found the copyrights on the song are all administered for
later derivations, which is often used as a device to try to convert public domain material into copyrighted material (again, dear reader, please don't see this as legal advice, as I am short-handing several different concepts for my own whimsy about the 1909 law, which would distort the answer if someone did not realize what I am short-handing). But as a matter of caution, I wrote to the likeliest rights administrator, explained my intended use, and asked for either a free license or a mechanical license at the staggering 8.whatever cents per CD price. As with many such things, I got a deafening silence. The "right administrator" website, in turn, admitted that it lacked the mechanical license authority, and directed me to a Latin administrator I had never heard about and could not contact.

Thus, when it came time to fill out the contract with the Austin folks, I realized that with "Guadalajara" up in the air on the plain-o, so to speak, I could not make the certification I needed to make until I tracked down its true "public domain or not?" form. I am a big believer in telling the truth about things, so I had to find a different way to go.

Meanwhile, I spoke with the New York folks I knew, who suggested that they would love to do the job, but needed a CD, as they no longer duplicate from cassette. As the Austin folks imposed no such proviso, the Austin folks again moved into first place. But I left a message with a Deep Ellum local CD duplication place, just in case.

Tonight I brought my cassette home. In my garage, one item of clutter I have is a dubbing cassette machine I got at a yard sale a year or two back for five dollars or so. I put in the cassette and did a high speed dub onto a new cassette. I loved hearing the Chipmunks type sound effect through the headphones. It turns out that when my voice is accelerated to many times a normal human speed, I sound really good. Maybe not Tom Waits good, but smile-ishly good. When the dub came to "Guadalajara", I paused the recording tape, and ran through the song, effectively deleting it from the new tape.
I thus now have a tape of holiday music free of copyright-risky material. I am, as they say in the Chipmunks' parlance, ready to rock (actually, they usually say "Where's Theodore?" in Chipmunks parlance, but you get the idea).

I listened to the completed tape with some pleasure, although I am still divided on whether to name it "Gurdonark's Awfully Kazoo Christmas" or some other disparaging word (and the skies are not cloudy all day, as the song goes).

Tomorrow I have another busy work day, but I hope to get the cassette in the mail to one place or the other, so that my CDs will be ready pre-12-25. The holiday cards are all ready to send, so that if I have not solved the duplication issue by the weekend, I'll mail the cards and then do the CD all in good time in another mailing ("all in good time, my pretty").

I got a bit of mail art from Buz Blurr, the rather well known mail artist from Gurdon, Arkansas. Because I had popped up on this list in my "real name", he asked the natural question of whether I was the son of the doctor who delivered his three children. I don't know anything about birthing any babies, but my father did a fair bit of that once. My father is perhaps my claim to fame, as one of my former LJ friends had actually been delivered by my father. I'll write Mr. Blurr back, as Gurdonians stick together.

I visited the Allen library website, in search of the Friends of the Library to whom I will donate many books, when I found a search engine that told me I have long-ago-incurred fines. I had no idea. I do not like being in debt for things I did not realize I was indebted for. I will gladly repay the fine on Tuesday, all of 14 dollars and something cents. I apparently was late with "American Folk Art", and I feel that is perhaps the story of my life.

It's cold here now, and tonight, a hard freeze. I love Texas December. It's charming, and it's so appropriate--like a Boston Market chicken on a chilly day.

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