Nostalgia interrupta: A brief Boomer rant about sampling

I really have nothing to add beyond what I said on Twitter, reflecting a Boomer’s disappointment at almost, but not quite, hearing and seeing things that bring back fond memories — repeatedly:

Here is the first sampling abomination I spoke of, and here is the second.

OK, I will add one thing: To keep my contemporaries from also experiencing nostalgia interrupta, here are the far-more-satisfying originals, including the theme from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”…

15 thoughts on “Nostalgia interrupta: A brief Boomer rant about sampling

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    And yeah, OK — the memories being evoked here are also junk pop. With the exception, of course, of Warren Zevon.

    But hey, have the originality to come up with your own junk pop. Don’t be ripping off someone else’s…

  2. Matt Warthen

    This sounds similar to the common complaint about CGI in movies. When people say they hate CGI, they’re usually talking about BAD CGI, but don’t mention any of the really GOOD CGI that’s out there. I think this is because really good CGI, just like really good sampling, blends into the work so well that you don’t know it’s there. Most “sampling” isn’t as simple as taking the hook from a popular song and repeating it, but a much more complex process of isolating sounds, and then reconstructing them as a song bed. This starts to blend into the practice of non-linear audio editing, but that’s how most “samples” are made now anyway.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But why do that — especially if it isn’t evocative of the original, makes no noticeable reference to it?

      Why not just, you know, play some music. With some sort of musical instrument, preferably…

      1. Matt Warthen

        Think about it like an old school hip-hop DJ. In order to make a continuous beat for someone to rap over (breakbeat), a DJ would play that section of the beat on one turntable (while cueing it up on a second), then switch the mixer to the second turntable, and play the beat again (while cueing it up again on the first turntable), and keep doing that until the end of the beat. The introduction of the sampler let them repeat the background beat, while layering other sounds over it with other records.

        As far as playing the same thing with real musical instruments goes, it’s much cheaper for someone to buy a sampler than it is to buy and master the dozens of instruments it would take to play all of those parts themselves.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Of course.

          This reminds me of something your decidedly unmusical grandfather said when I was a kid. Someone was talking about people playing some musical instrument, and he said the only musical instrument he could play was a record player…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Anyway, my point is, don’t make me think I’m going to hear one thing, then turn it into something else — unless that something else is positively brilliant, a great improvement or at least awesome variation upon the original.

      For instance, what Tchaikovsky did in the 1812 Overture — a mashup of three familiar themes — was something that worked.

      Of course, when people of my generation hear it, they can’t stop thinking, “This is the cereal that’s shot from guns…”

  3. Doug Ross

    I like the “Uma Thurman” song very much. But then my music tastes lately have been similar to those of a teenage girl (Charlie Puth/Megan Trainor’s song “Marvin Gaye” is on heavy rotation).

    Without sampling, we probably would not have had the Beastie Boys and that would have been a big loss.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    I’m not sure if it’s “sampling” or not (I’m still fuzzy on the definition because I’m old and uncool) but there’s a good mashup of Snoop Dogg and The Doors, where both songs are kind of played over the top of each other.

    What’s that called?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks, Burl!

      The kids who made this just didn’t get the concept of Illya Kuryakin at all, did they? For that matter, I can’t see either of these guys as the lead characters. And Hugh Grant taking Leo G. Carroll’s place? Give me a break…

      Somebody should just give everybody involved a light karate chop to the back of the neck, which will cause them all, of course, to collapse into unconsciousness immediately…

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