Monday, July 7, 2008

Tom Mauchahty-Ware:
Flute Songs of the Kiowa and Comanche

Well, another highly successful LP purchase on my part. Recorded at Hog Creek, Oklahoma, in 1978, this record is not only awesome but also highly elusive. While the 'Indian House' record label is still around, still selling (Cassettes, LPs and CDs) and even still releasing, this is one of the few 12" originals that is not currently for sale on their site in such a format. Nope, CD or cassette only for this puppy. How did I happen across this beautiful piece of art you ask? Why, an independent record store of course! Ah the P-Rex (no, not a dinosaur: the Princeton Record Exchange you ninny!), I miss you so. Our friend Tom is actually a direct descendant of Belo Cozad, the famous Kiowa flute player. And since Tom's father (Wilson Ware), a prominent Kiowa war dance and singer, proceeded to procreate with his mother (Pearl Pewo Ware), of the Comanche tribe, we end up with this glorious album which is, in essence, a celebration of both cultures. I know you're not supposed to get all idealistic and mystical and teary-eyed and shit when you think about Native Americans (they're just people too, with problems like any others), but they certainly promote that image with statements like "The natural scents such as cedar, sage, oak, Indian perfume, Indian tobacco, and others are the most beautiful in the world, for they are not bought or sold" and "In order to present the natural setting and feeling of Indian flute playing, this recording was made outdoors, in a beautiful wooded area with a stream nearby." In fact, the word 'beautiful' is used pretty much to the maximum. There's also a beautiful Kiowa Flute story, a beautiful biography on Tom, and a beautiful lyrical or phrasical description of each song. Let's see, we've got "Love Song of Birds," inspired by, you guessed it, beautiful birds in a tree, there are a couple of prayer songs, several love songs, and the omnipresent "War Dance Song." The lyrics to said War Dance don't seem particularly menacing, translating as "I like this song. This is the One. I'm glad to hear this song. It's good that I still hear this song," but maybe that's just my interpretation. Although, methinks that if that's what our poor down-trodden troops in Iraq were singing (along with the other side), maybe we could all just sit back, smoke a blunt, and appreciate the music. All in all, I highly recommend that you check out Indian House (simultaneously supporting the best dressed fellows and fellas to walk this here land), get yourself a couple of Native tracks (peyote songs anyone?), listen to the birds, smoke the peace pipe, wonder at the duration and odds of the human journey and try to imagine where we'll end up next.

I deem it: "Larger than Life and Prettier than Puritans"

"I, along with the birds and the animals of nature are going to give you a gift. It is called a Tone-bawt (Flute). We take from the greatest of all trees an instrument of beauty which will be yours, and yours only, until you someday pass it down, for there is only one in a tribe that receives it. The bird on top represents all these beautiful birds and animals that helped me prepare this for you. The four holes in the end of the flute represent the four directions of wind. You must always caress this to keep it oiled. The breath of life from your body will keep it moist. You must keep it in a buckskin bag with your medicine. Your rouge which you use on your face will be put in the end of the flute to personalize it. It is yours and yours only. Along with this instrument you will also have your own courting song.

You must dress in your best Kiowa clothes, wear your best feathers, put on your best hair wraps and also your rouge. Wear all the beautiful things of nature for you will represent beauty and love. Your music will always pertain to love. Whether it's courtship, prayer, or brotherly love, you will always represent it."

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