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In the ORIGINAL *1981* version of ‘Slo Ass Jolene’ Dolly sang a duet with herself!
01:08 pm


Dolly Parton
John Oswald

Now this is interesting. In a recent DM post, our Martin Schneider, wanting to give credit where credit is due, wrote “Attention ‘Slow Ass Jolene’ Dolly Parton uploader: Plunderphonics did that same thing 25 years ago!” His intentions were noble, but apparently Dolly’s pitch was first fucked with 32 years ago. Plunderphonics—that would be composer John Oswald—made his first “slo ass Jolene” way back in 1981. What’s even better?

It’s a dual-speed Dolly duet!

Here’s the description from the newly minted Plunderphonics YouTube channel:

As Dolly says in the intro, “well, I’m just the fellow that’ll talk to you.”

This is the 2-speed version of “Jolene” that John Oswald first played on the radio show Sounds Wrong which was broadcast in Vancouver in 1981 as a summer fill-in for the excellent HP Dinner Hour. The same piece also ended up on “Mystery Tape k7.”

An essay by Oswald entitled “Revolutions and Mister Dolly Parton— a vortex of androgyny” appeared in the 2nd issue of the (also) excellent British music magazine Collusion in 1982, in which he writes:

“[S]everal people have told me that they play copies Dolly Parton’s single ‘Jolene’ at 331∕3 rpm at which speed she becomes a slightly slurring but beautiful tenor. The effect is a vortex of androgyny when one flips from one turntable speed to the other with each verse: the accelerations follow the swoops of the solo violin and Dolly proceeds to sing himself into a ménage a trois.”

The source for Oswald’s decidedly polyamorous take on “Jolene” was apparently this clip from a 1973 episode of The Porter Wagoner Show and now thanks to the wonder of Final Cut Pro, I suppose, they’ve been able to sync the video and audio together again.

Thank you, R.Brain!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Attention ‘Slow Ass Jolene’ Dolly Parton uploader: Plunderphonics did that same thing 25 years ago!
06:27 pm


Dolly Parton
John Oswald

Plunderphonics EP
Last month a slowed-down video of Dolly Parton’s classic song “Jolene” made the rounds on the Internet. The premise was that if you played that single not at the correct 45-rpm speed but at the 33-rpm speed, a reduction of about 25%, the resultant version was quite startling, as if “a soulful male ballad singer” (The New Yorker) were covering it (and, incidentally, fucking with the gender dynamics of the song). Many, many listeners expressed astonishment that Dolly’s phrasing and even vibrato were so finely expressed that hardly any flaws showed up, even at such a slow speed. The main YouTube video, originally uploaded by YouTube user “goodlittlebuddy” in April 2012, has now been viewed 1.75 million times.

Not a lot of people discussing “Slow Ass Jolene” took the opportunity to credit John Oswald for the insight about “Jolene”—but Oswald realized the exact same thing as early as 1988 (to be fair, a sprinkling of YouTube users did make the connection). It’s unclear whether “goodlittlebuddy” knew this or not, but either way Oswald deserves some of the credit here.

Oswald was a self-proclaimed “Plunderphonic” who argued for the necessity of (basically) fucking with famous pieces of music. In 1989 he distributed the Plunderphonics EP with four tracks to media outlets and radio stations. (Oswald generally avoided charging money for his reconstituted works in the hopes of avoiding copyright infringement suits, but also withdrew and destroyed existing stock in the face of legal challenges.)

The Plunderphonics EP has four tracks, each of which aggressively reworks a famous bit of music. Tracks 1, 3, and 4 mess with Igor Stravinsky, Count Basie, and Elvis Presley, respectively. Track 2 of the Plunderphonics EP is “Pretender,” in which Dolly Parton’s rendition of “The Great Pretender” is manipulated to sound more like a man’s voice. Sound familiar? Read on!

This is from Oswald’s liner notes on the Plunderphonics EP:

Pretender (based on ‘The Great Pretender’ written by Buck Ram) features the opportunity for a dramatic gender change, suggesting a hypothesis concerning the singer, Ms.Parton, perhaps worthy of headlines in the National Enquirer. The first inklings of this story came from fans of Ms.Parton’s earlier hit single ‘Jolene’. As many consumers have inadvertently discovered, especially since the reemergence of 12’ 45rpm records of which this present disc is a peculiar subset, it is not uncommon to find oneself playing 45rpm sides at the LP standard speed of 331/3. In this transposed tempo ‘Jolene’ reveals the singer to be a handsome tenor. Additional layers of homosexual longing , convoluted ménages à trois and double identities are revealed in a vortex of androgyny as one switches, verse to verse, between the two standard playback speeds.

Pretender takes a leisurely tour of the intermediate areas of Ms. Parton’s masculinity. This decelerando reveals, complete with suggestive lyrics, an unaltered transition between the ‘Dolly Parton’ the public usually hears and the normally hidden voice, pitched a fourth lower. To many ears this supposed trick effect reveals the mellifluous male voice to be the more natural sounding of the two. Astute star gazers have perceived the physical transformation, via plastic surgery, hair transplants and such, that make many of today’s media figures into narrow/bosomy, blemish-free caricatures and super-real ideals. Is it possible that Ms. Parton’s remarkable voice is actually the Alvinized* result of some unsung virile ghost lieder crooning these songs at elegiac tempos which are then gender polarized to fit the tits? Speed and sex are again revealed as components intrinsic to the business of music.


Here’s John Oswald’s “Pretender”:

After the jump, Dolly’s original and “correct” versions of “The Great Pretender” and “Jolene”...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Thirty-nine years gone, Jim Morrison predicted electronic soul—but not Plunderphonicized Doors…

Detroit techno soldier Monty Luke hepped me to this rather remarkable clip from an unnamed American music show in 1969. It seems apropos since last week marked the 39th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, and his ghost still haunts what once was the Doors Workshop in Los Angeles. Below, the LizKing notes that music in the future “might rely heavily on electronics and tapes” and feature performers “using machines.”

You think he figured that electronic music geniuses like John Oswald a.k.a. Plunderphonics would have such a blast blowing out the Doors, as shown in the fan video after the jump?


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment