For Christmas, I bought my husband two CDs. Because he’s kind of old school, even though he usually listens to music on an iPod, he likes to own actual CDs rather than digital files. There is a difference between owning a group of 15 or so songs on a disc and paying for access to the music, you know. We don’t have a music store in our small town and actually, besides chain stores like Walmart or Barnes and Noble, I don’t know where the close music stores are. So before Christmas, I ordered from amoebamusic.com, an independent music store that provides free shipping.
I hid the two CDs, packed them into my suitcase and wrapped them at my brother-in-law’s house, where we spent Christmas, and the Machinist was pleased with his gift: The Steep Canyon Rangers’ “Radio,” and Joan Shelley’s “Over & Eden.” We saw the Rangers play at Lime Kiln, a really cool outdoor venue close to home, and though I knew nothing about Joan Shelly, she was recommended by Amoeba and, as I learned, NPR. I found a couple clips online and it sounded like my husband’s kind of music—melodic female vocals with country leanings— so I clicked buy.
At some point he popped the Rangers CD into the CD player and it sounded nice but more churchy than I remembered from the Lime Kiln show. I looked at the liner notes and saw the various musicians’ names, which didn’t seem to correspond to what I was hearing, but what did I know… One morning after getting home from Christmas, the Machinist popped in the Joan Shelley CD while we were making breakfast and cleaning the house. Pretty female vocals, but I had to wonder, “I didn’t think Joan Shelley’s stuff would sound like gospel.”
The Machinist said he wanted to get some more Steep Canyon Rangers, because he really liked what we heard in the concert. But, he said, he didn’t care for most of the Joan Shelley CD. A few days later, when we got a new Netflix disc in the mail, I opened the DVD player to take Joan Shelley out. Imagine my great surprise when this is what I found:
The Machinist came in and I showed him all the evidence: two CDs, two cases, one sleeve. I’m glad to know that the gospel sounds were coming from an imposter CD, and Amoeba Music is going to check into this and (I hope) send on the correct CD.
What will the next mystery be?