I was into Ska in the mid nineties. Not enough to wear the uniform, but enough that it was basically all I listened to for a while, and I actually played trumpet (very badly) in a band that played a couple of good shows. We had our own following in a time when bands like No Doubt and Reel Big Fish weren’t always headlining, and were playing at small venues with mostly local fans. It was great fun, and I’m sure that those who were a part of that time will remember it fondly for the most part. The band was called Exit Smiling, and we had some great times and colossal fights. There’s a band in Milwaukee now with the name (either a heavy metal band or punk, can’t be certain) which makes me sort of sad, but I can’t blame them for coming up with a good name.
The other day, I had the tune of song from Goodwin Club in my head, an Orange County ska band popular around 1994-1995, and I’ve spent the last thirty minutes digging through the Internet trying to find a recording. In doing so, I realize that the Internet, and what it provides, has become fully entrenched into nearly all my behaviors. Without even giving it thought, I went out looking for content that is essentially pre-Web, pre-MP3, and therefore doesn’t exist (at least to me, as I take the Internet for granted).
Today, a band like the Goodwin Club, would likely have MP3’s scattered throughout the Internet, either by their own choice or out of their control. It would almost be harder not to spread their recordings wide, as demo tapes would probably be created in digital format first. With tools like GarageBand for the Mac, and the simple ubiquity of computers that can record audio in the first place, the difference between garage bands from 2005 and 1994 is about the same as the difference between garage bands from 1950.
And while I really would like to find even just one digital recording of the Goodwin Club, I understand that the sort of warmth that comes from remembering the Good Old Days doesn’t come from having exact bit by bit recordings. The lack of a full archive requires that you swim in your memories, sending off ripples that bring about other lost memories that you might overlook if given an all encompassing, unbiased and completely comprehensive perspective. The imperfections of the mind mold those experiences into something else over time, something that perfection might destroy.
But if you have a copy, I still want it.