WTF of the Week: Tom Waits to Release Single on 78 RPM


Yesterday Pitchfork reported bluesman Tom Waits will be releasing a 78 RPM vinyl single on Nov. 19 through New Orleans-based Preservation Hall Recordings.

Each side of the limited edition vinyl platter will feature a cover song recorded in collaboration with the Preservation Hall Jazz band including “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing,” and “Corrine Died on the Battlefield.” 

Both songs were originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947 and represent the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian Chants.

 But if you're firing up your Numark or Techniques record player in sweaty anticipation, hold the needle my friend. This limited edition single is technologically incompatible with most record players available today.    


For those of you unfamiliar with vinyl record designations, the “78” is an obsolete technology,  probably not even used by many of your grandparents. Most record players available today only have settings for 33 and 45 RPMs, which means even avid record collectors aren't equipped for this release. 
Oh yeah, we're in hipster country now. 

 All of this should prove inconsequential for those  audiophiles financially prepared to get their hands on the singles since the Preservation Hall will also be selling also be selling 100 custom made 78 rpm record players along with the singles. Those  willing to fork over the Sacagaweas for a record player that won't even accept early Elvis, will have to shell out $200. 
Although if you're low on funds, you can buy the record on its own on its own for $50–but for many, it will be a flattened paper weight.

This 78 endeavor started  after Waits contributed the Barker songs to a recent compilation titled Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall N the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. Appearing on the LP and rocking vintage cover tunes were such artists as Ani DiFranco, Richie Havens, Brandi Carlile, Andrew Bird and Pete Seeger. This LP is still available through with proceeds benefiting the New Orleans based organization.

Begging the question:
What type of moron is going to spend their hard earned money on such an obvious status booster when they can just buy the whole album for a fraction of the cost.  
Don't answer that.
 It doesn't matter who because the money will be going to the cause of preserving American music for future generations. Who can argue with that? Kudos to the Preservation Hall for not underestimating the stupidity of today's hippest music suckers who will stop at nothing to fill their shelves with the latest glorified baseball card to inflate their own sense of indie credibility. 
Oh I'm just ranting am I? Well consider this, when the Victrola company sold its top of the line 78 playing model in 1906,  for $200, it was quite a lofty price and intended for the upper class. But bear in mind, this was state-of-the-art technology built in an era when American companies were manufacturing products intended to last a lifetime or longer. 
 If Preservation Hall has accurately estimated the stupidity of today's music suckers, their new custom record players only have to last long enough for the docents to swipe those Elliot Smith emblazoned  debit cards and let their hipster owners strut out the door.
I'm left  with just one question: Can I pre-order one?
When it all goes down:
 The single will be released November 19.  Only 504 will be available at a cost of $200 with custom 78 RPM record player or $50 for the record alone.  According to Tom Wait's Web site, each single will be signed by Creative Director Ben Jaffe. Visit Tom Waits Web site for more information.

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