The Forgotten Music

Published on November 29th, 2008 in: Issues, Music, New Old Stock, Retrovirus |

By Less Lee Moore

Years and years ago, a friend made a mix tape of old records she’d scrounged up from another friend’s grandmother. These were all pieces in the style of what was once called “Easy Listening” or “Elevator Music,” i.e., orchestral, instrumental versions of popular songs. The Muzak Corporation began producing music of this type in the 1930s.

overlook hotel bar
Still from The Shining
by newsie__nympho

Many people also associate elevator music with the dentist’s office, hospital, or other businesses where the background music must be as unoffensive and unobtrusive as possible. Of course, there are also many people who find elevator music to be exceptionally cloying and annoying.

This tape, however, contains songs that were popular well before I was even born and which utilize mostly orchestral instruments, instead of the synthesized sounds that seemed to be omnipresent in the mid-to-late 70s and 80s. In addition, many of these songs contain some vocals: either the title of the song repeated at key points (such as during verses) or just some “la la la” noises.

Combined with instruments like the accordion, Hammond organ, xylophones, and most significantly, twangy guitar with a tremendous amount of tremelo, these pieces end up sounding like music that would be played on a ghost ship, what you might hear in the elevator on your way to the hereafter, or what the band should have been playing in the Overlook Hotel bar sequences of The Shining. It’s ethereal, haunting, creepy, and downright addictive. Rather than using it as background music, I listen to this tape frequently, as I find it incredibly compelling.

I’ve converted the tunes on the tape to MP3 format and uploaded them here for others who may be similarly fascinated by this style of music. I have no idea who performs these pieces, as I have never seen the actual vinyl from which they were taped. Instead I have credited the original composers and songwriters. I would love to find more versions of songs recorded in this manner. Unfortunately, the cassette sleeve is torn and thus, the names of the last two pieces are missing. I will be eternally indebted to anyone who can provide me with the titles of these pieces.

Download the zipped file of all the songs here

Click to read more about. . .

Songs one through six
Songs seven through thirteen

Pages: 1 2 3

5 Responses to “The Forgotten Music”

  1. JL:
    December 1st, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Downloading NOW!
    You have given me an early Christmas gift – thanks!

  2. summer hayes:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    music of the future B side??

  3. Popshifter:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Yes, that’s the tape! Music of the Future was later revealed to be French composers Perrey & Kingsley and I bought a CD of theirs after I found this out.


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