Sunday, April 10, 2011

Playing the bones

In Leningrad, I met a man, no longer young, named Kolya Vasyn. He was a genuine dissident in the Brezhnev years, but his dissidence consisted of his worship not of Jefferson or Mill, but of Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, and, above all, John Lennon. ... He told me that when he first started listening to rock and roll, it was impossible to get records and it was before the era when audio cassettes were easy to find. "We had friends who worked in medical clinics and they would steal used X rays," Kolya said. "Someone would have a primitive record-making machine and you would copy the music by cutting the grooves in the material of the X rays. So you'd be listening to a Fats Domino tune that was coming right off of the X ray of someone's long-forgotten broken hip. They called that 'on the bones'." (David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb, pp. 335-336).
I wonder if these records still exist somewhere? (Though perhaps the anecdote was simply too good to check, I know).

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