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I have become, in my antiquarian existence, a great fan of the iPod though I know¬† absolutely nothing about them, I have, however, collected 7372 musical pieces in my “library” of all genres.

Last week I discovered that I had a problem with one of the five iPods I possess so, knowing it was not on warranty thus I could expect no help from Apple, I took it to my local Future Shop. The problem was simple – I couldn’t turn it on. I charged it overnight – nothing.

The young man in the iPods section simply said “your battery is dead.”

“Then, could you sell me a battery and tell me how to install it?”

“Afraid not, sir, as you can see there’s no way to get into the machine.”

“&%$*#” I replied.

“Well, sir, they only last about 18 months you know – the one you have is, forgive me sir, pretty outdated.”

I felt patronized because I was.

“How much does a new one, .2 gig, cost?”

“Well, sir, they don’t sell your model any more. If you want a small machine you
will not be able to set the genre and all that stuff – you must scroll from piece to piece. The smallest size of your type is an 8Gig (whatever the hell a gig is) and will be about $200.”

“Do you mean to tell me that the two 4 Gig machines I got last year are the tin lizzies of the iPod world?”

“You got it!”

It’s got out of hand, this electronics business. Now if I want an iPod I must get one that has a dozen features whereas I only want one. It’s like the blackberry, the iPod has gone one step too far.

I must say I have a lot of fun monkeying with mine so I’ll just carry on until another iPod goes whereupon one of my options, I suppose, is an old wind up 78rpm gramophone and an old collection of what we used to call “records”.

In the “monkeying” around mode on the weekend I decided to re-arrange my small iPods and put on some new stuff. As I scrolled through my library I found several orphans – songs which I had put into the machine as part of a collection of several artists by people I’d never heard of. As I came to each song, I listened to these “orphans”, one of which had one Thelma Grayson on it. She was terrific yet I’d never heard of her.

Off to Google and I couldn’t find her. This was odd so I played around for awhile and discovered that there was a female band singer called Thelma Gracen and that she had only made one CD with Mercury. She showed up in my library as Grayson.

I downloaded the album and she was really good. How come I have never heard of her?

Back to Google where I found this biographical sketch –

“Thelma Gracen (January 6, 1922 – October 24, 1994) started her professional singing career in the ’40s with dance bands such as Gay Claridge, Shep Fields, Tommy Dorsey, Jan Garber and Jimmy Palmer. Back in 1955, Maynard Ferguson (EmArcy recording artist) dropped into a Los Angeles night club where Thelma was singing and was so impressed with her artistry, the next night he brought a Mercury talent scout with him. That is how Thelma Gracen became a Mercury recording artist …

Gracen’s brilliant and fascinating singing style is reminiscent of the great female vocalists; Anita O’Day, June Christy and Chris Connor. Her great voice was further enhanced by talented Los Angeles based studio musicians who added their expertise to match Gracen’s unique singing style.

Unfortunately, Thelma Gracen has very few recordings in her catalogue – two Wing LPs (a year later both were reissued from EmArcy), and older 78rpms with the Shep Fields Orchestra. That is why her Wing LP is very precious and invaluable.

I learned that Gracen had sung with Freddie Slack a great pianist, specializing in boogie woogie, Freddy Slack whose best, House of Blue Lights, was a big hit when I was a kid had also featured a not known singer whom I loved, Ella Mae Morse, While I did find an album and several others upon which he had a couple of songs, I couldn’t find any trace of Gracen. Same thing with Shep Fields.

I’ll look for more, that’s for sure. There must be other great stuff to be found. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun looking.

As a footnote, I have bought quite a few CDs from Compact Disc Universe and learned that it’s against the law for them to permit Canadians to download. Can anyone out there tell me why this is so?

One Response to “From Rafe’s desk: iPod and Thelma Gracen”

  1. Burgess says:

    Hi there.

    I hope you didn’t throw away your Ipod. Battery and necessary tool to replace same is available from a mail order house in China. Delivery to door is about ten dollars. I have to get in touch with the techie that just repaired his.

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