Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Last Laugh

"The Laughing Song" of George W. Johnson is one of the very earliest hit records. Joshua Gunn discusses it in his intriguing talk below. There's a great deal to be said about the psychoanalytic meaning of recorded laughter, but one oddity mentioned by Gunn in passing is that laughing songs were very popular early on and perhaps constitute one of the first genres of recorded music.

Here is a twisted and perverse repetition of Johnson's laughter by Hasil Adkins, however, I had no idea that this song was part of venerable and historic musical genre. It certainly resonates for me, though, as a return of the repressed. Hasil Adkins as a symptom of the hauntological moment in pop music is all too plausible to me. Adkins certainly haunts me.

The full talk by Gunn is here and is also well worth a listen. Or two.

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