Friday, January 6, 2012

Zines by Burgin Mathews

One of my personal favorite “genres” of zine writing is the music zine - not the fanzines that deify a specific band or style of music, but zines that delve into lesser explored paths and aspects of the musical world around us. Two exceptional examples of this type of journalism are Angry Violist and David Tighe’s zines.

So my curiosity was piqued when I stumbled across Singing Governors, Fiddling Senators and Other Country Music Politicians by Burgin Mathews on etsy. He charts a course from Tennessee brothers Bob and Alf Taylor to Al Gore, Sr. relating stories of musicians who were also politicians and politicians who were musicians. Something about fiddling politicians make them more accessible, more human, and informs us that they, like us, have a soul. Music is the universal language (not Esperanto – sorry!) and we feel comfort and familiarity with those who are fluent in that language.

Burgin introduces this history of fiddling politicians with a nod to Kinky Freeman, which sets the tone for a highly enjoyable read. I remember in the folky days of my youth finding & eyeing some of the LPs mentioned in this zine – Senator Sam Erwin, Senator William Byrd … and unfortunately placing the LPs back in the record bin. Now, I wish I had made a different choice.

Burgin is also the author of Thirty Birmingham Songs, a zine that compiles the background of three dozen tunes about Birmingham Alabama. Numerous musical genres and recordings are represented here from the 1920’s to the present. Thirty Birmingham Songs is cultural journalism at its finestmethodically researched, descriptively written, educational and enjoyable. Music of place is essential to building community … I wonder how many songs have been written about New Hampshire?

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