Taken from the wonderful filming available here .
This is a story about a story. Once upon a time a hiphop radio DJ found an old piece of vinyl lying around. That record contained hundreds of snippets of spoken word poetry recording in and around LA in the early 1980s. He had produced a few of his own tracks by the late 90s/early 2000s, and thought it might be neat to sample some of that spoken word stuff for his next couple of recordings. So, around that time, he produced a couple of new tracks. One of them contains the following story, lifted in its entirety from that record he found:
The name of the track this is on is “You Are Sleeping” by “PQM “, AKA “DJ Prince Quick Mix,” AKA Manuel Napuri. Opinions likely differ as to whether this is an interesting or valuable piece of poetry/prose. However, the Internet attests to the value that many attribute to it. For example, the Discog pages for the various versions of the track contain reviews like the following:
A superb piece of music. I have heard it on several mix albums and also played at several club nights and I never tire of hearing it. The monologue flows perfectly in time with the underlying rhythm, and is more than just the bunch of random samples that is so often used in dance music. The story the dude tells is ultra-seedy, but at the same time also has very humane elements to it.This is an excellent house record. The entire production is tight, clean and grooves from start to finish. The actual vocal samples are what makes this record a must have. That repeated “You Are Sleeping” sample has an acapella which is a good DJ tool and as most PQM productions go, they have nice breakdowns and builds. One of the finest Yoshitoshi records ever made.The meaning of the absurd ironically lyrics has been widely discussed, but that’s the meaning, they are not ment [sic] to be understood in only one way – you gotta check it out yourself. Could be the greatest lyrics ever written for a song, next to Underworld’s Born Slippy.
As I’m writing this, YouTube contains versions of the song with over 300,000 views, and such comments as:
These are the greatest words ever spoken in a dance track. The writing, whatever it is from, just makes me cringe in awe
The song has gone on to be played in nightclubs, sold to mix CDs and has been widely appreciated and discussed. It is reasonable to suppose that PQM’s career has benefitted significantly from his track ‘You Are Sleeping.’ A review of the remix release of the track states:
What is this track “You Are Sleeping” all about?“You Are Sleeping” was first released June 2002 and featured the Deephead Pass, Thumpin´ Instrumental, Bonus Beats and DJ Tools. It was tribal drumming workout that was minimal in the inclusion of other samples. But what made it a standout was the bizarre spoken word story told at the breakdown by a man´s experience with picking up a prostitute that hustles to earn money for her smack addiction. He goes on to say he thinks he can save her, ends up selling all his possessions and ends up broke, with her responding to that with “no scratch, no snatch” and leaves him. After recounting being homeless, getting beat up, having the prostitute stroll by and tell him he looks horrible and hang tough, he concludes that it was a bum wrap [sic] for being a nice sensitive guy. (emphasis added)
As I write this, there appears to be no evidence available anywhere as to who wrote or spoke the story in the track. Recently I tried to contact PQM through his facebook page to find out who is behind it. I didn’t get any response, and decided to figure it out myself. I’m not the first person to try. The Trance Addict forum. around for over 12 years, has sub-forums dedicated to the identification of tracks and sharing track lists from DJ sets. Electronic music fans can spend lots of time trying to ‘ID’ a track. As you might expect, there’s a long (7 page, right now) thread of people trading notes, trying to identify the spoken word source of You Are Sleeping. You can find people on the Internet speculating that it’s Bukowski, or Burroughs. When I asked some Bukowski fans for help, they suggested in turn that it might be Jesse Bernstein. The only attribution that anyone can find is, as pointed out in the Trance Addict discussion, is listed in the Discogs summary of the liner notes:
Contains a sample from “Hoes Gotta Eat Too” by DJ Xenamorph by courtesy of Abducted Recordings NYC/all rights reserved
This is pretty clearly a joke. There is no such song, and there is no such recording artist. So the attribution has been faked. It’s possible that PQM sampled the record and then lost it, and was encouraged by the label to add something indicating copyright status. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested in who it really is. I’ll tell you, just as soon as I explain how I figured it out. Googling snippets of the spoken word itself led nowhere except lyrics sites for You Are Sleeping. After many hours of googling, and trawling through YouTube, I noticed that PQM released another track at around the same time as YAS: “Insane Poem.” The Discogs summary of its liner notes states:
Contains sample from “I’m Waiting For The World To Admit It’s Insane,” by DJ Xenamorph.
That sample includes the following:
It’s reasonable to think that the source for this short snippet might be the same as the one for YAS. When you google this passage with quotations around it, so as to only return exact matches, you find its source. a poem written by Michael C. Ford, dedicated to Henry Rollins. The title of the poem is ‘Ammunition.’ That source says nothing about an audio recording of it, though. But when you google ‘Michael C Ford’ and ‘Ammunition’, some very helpful links are at the top: they refer to a 1984 vinyl double lp of spoken word recordings. including the aforementioned poem dedicated to Henry Rollins. And if you google that record further, you find something beautiful: a personal music blog describing Neighborhood Rhythms (Patter Traffic) and a bit of its history, with a download of all of the tracks. If that link ever breaks, comment here and I’ll repost it. If you listen to all of those tracks, you’ll find the ones that PQM sampled both for YAS and for Insane Poem. The name of the poet who wrote and spoke the lines sampled in You Are Sleeping is Californian poet John Harris. The sampled version omits the following introduction:
If you’d like to see John Harris reading his poem, he’s on YouTube presenting a version of ‘The Gospel According To John’ in 2011. which as I’m writing this has a grand total of 47 views and 0 comments. It’s a little different from the sampled version. Maybe you can suggest the significance of the elisions and differences in comments below. At my visit with John and his wife Marcia, on July 1, 2013 (they wished us a happy Canada Day) I was able to examine a annotated, typed, and paginated looseleaf copy of “The Gospel” that contained some of the revisions in that version. Here are images of those pages:
In that same visit I discovered that not only did John not know that his reading from Neighborhood Rhythms had been sampled for a popular piece of electronic music, he didn’t know that his work had been recorded to that piece of vinyl. Here is a short sample of the interview in which John is speechless at seeing Neighborhood Rhythms for the first time:
The last part of this story about a story has to do with fairness, attribution, sampling and the Internet. I’m not sure if John Harris deserves money or compensation for the success of You Are Sleeping, but I’m completely certain that he deserves credit. So, I’ve posted links to this story in the places I could find where people were asking about it. In another post I may discuss John’s reaction and his own views on compensation and attribution.
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Cirque Bijou like to mix things up. From stunning artistic creations for rock concerts to seamlessly produced large scale shows in community recreation grounds, we seek out the new, unusual and surprising, drawing on the thousands of relationships we have built across the live entertainment, theatre and production industries since 1999. To this breadth of experience and formidable network we add passion, creativity and sky-high production values.
Howie is our in-house video wizard, creating live-mixed backdrops, beautiful digital accompaniments to our live shows and his speciality 3D video mapping which he projects straight onto our sets. He’s good with websites, tech talk and stuff like that, and throws a mean yoyo too.
Julian obtained a degree in three dimensional design before travelling the world with a successful one man street show. Somewhere along the way he developed an unhealthy fascination of fire, pyrotechnics and circus. Julian is now co-director of Cirque Bijou.
As our Company Manager, Kate is responsible for co-ordinating everything that goes on behind the scenes – Kate is a one woman database of everything Cirque Bijou, and a whizz at planning, organising and problem solving in our changeable and sometimes chaotic world!
A former political consultant, press officer and PR director, Billy ran away to the circus to perform flying trapeze, co-founding Cirque Bijou in 1999. Billy has developed CPD programmes for young artists, created shows in big tops, on beaches and off buildings and launched some of the largest retail developments in the UK.
Geraldine is a listener, a watcher and a constructive critic. She has been working with Cirque Bijou since 2006 and is responsible for steering the company in the right direction and making sure that the Cirque Bijou message is communicated far and wide.
Thea is our shining new Arts & Finance Intern. Supporting the Company Manager with scrupulous pre-production logistics and keeping a close eye on numbers, Thea has taken to the role like a duck to water, keeping the office ticking over beautifully. When not in Bijou land she is singing, dancing and teaching piano!
Flo brings design skills and a creative eye to assist her with sharing our news far and wide. When not in marketing land she is getting stuck in to projects and whizzing off to gigs adding a smile and meticulous production management.
An honorary member of the Cirque Bijou team, Tom is always on hand to get stuck in and be generally fantastic. Whether it’s managing teams of artists and crew, helping rig highwires, driving vans, running around with LED Umbrellas, or dressing up as a frog, Tom is there cracking on with a smile like the good egg he is.
It really was everything we hoped it might be and more. Vision and then the practical delivery of that vision to the highest of standards and integrity is always at the heart of your work!
—Jeremy James, Creative Producer, Gravity Fields
A great show – very impressive and entertaining – it really was the centrepiece of the celebrations.
—Rosemary Richards, Festival Director, Gravity Fields
A uniquely choreographed, musically and artistically directed participatory celebration – combining wit, warmth and a welcome that was oh so winning!
—Tish Francis – Co-Director, The Story Museum
Cirque Bijou consistently deliver above and beyond our expectations, on time and bang on budget.
—Shaun Barnett, Quantum Special Effects, partner for Katy Perry on the X Factor
An evening of superb heart-in-mouth acrobatics: a real narrative, some strong characters, and plenty of both beauty and humour. This show deserves a bigger, national audience.
—Steve Wright, Venue
You were all brilliant – pulled one of our biggest crowds this summer.
—Caterina Loriggio, National Theatre
Had a young crowd gasping and roaring for more! What a great way to engage them and make sure they stayed engaged for the future. Lovely stuff!
—Richard Crowe, London 2012 Creative Programmer, South West
Project 360 has really set the standard for future arts & cultural activities we will be offering to children & young people within Telford, it has truly inspired not only the young people but also parents, families and teachers. A great success!
—Judy McFall, Cultural Development Officer, Telford and Wrekin Council
It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a theatre ever.
—Rory, 11, audience, Project 3Sixty
You fulfilled and surpassed both briefs and were, as always, creative, professional, and flexible. Great job.
—Richard Joy, Managing Director, Full Circle
Spectacular show celebrates opening of shopping centre – ‘A great day in city’s history’.
—Front page headline of Leicester Mercury
Thanks so much for such rockin’ shows. Great energy and fantastic response. Respect.
—Angus MacKechnie, Producer, Watch This Space Festival at the National Theatre
Wonderful to have you in the square – the atmosphere was just stunning and so fitting for the closing Olympic weekend.
—James Pidgeon, Assistant, Watch This Space Festival at the National Theatre
“It was astounding and not because it was a disabled company, but just because it was world class theatre done exceptionally with absolute heart and joy.”
—Audience Member, Fleetwood, July 2015
Extraordinary Bodies will be a game-changer for circus in this country and we are delighted to support it. It’s a direct legacy of the amazing culture and ceremonies created for London 2012. We’re very pleased that a long term programme that will make exciting work of scale and develop talent of disabled and non-disabled circus artists at a national level is launched while we’re enjoying Rio 2016. It’s a timely reminder of how the drive for success in sport is an inspiration for culture too. It puts the creative case for diversity front and centre of great art – exactly where it should be.
—Alison Clark, Ambition for Excellence, Arts Council England
I think it is very much a new way of presenting a (circus) project and it is very interesting that it is developed with the actual community as a focus.
—Nick Green, Arts Council South West
It worked well, the strength of it lay in involving the audience in a participatory way. And the back stories which were developed with the residents were well conceived.
—Audience member, pilot project
Cirque Bijou created and coordinated one of the most stunning opening night events that I have had the pleasure to work on. Billy and Julian are true professionals and innovative artists who deliver extraordinary events.
—Peter Conway – Creative Producer, 2009 Colston Hall Opening Celebration
Billy and Julian. You were open minded and prepared to change – a rare thing. You made DiverseCity in all our quirkiness part of your gang. I hope you like my assessment of you as brilliant, open minded and decent.
—Claire Hodgson, Chief Executive, DiverseCity (Breathe)
An unbelievable scene. So beautiful – what an ending to a great show.
—Nigel Hinds, London 2012 Festival
I really must congratulate you on your props, it’s rare that props turn up that work and everyone loves.
—Chris Vaughn, TPO, Production Manager – Muse tour 2013
A truly entertaining, awe-inspiring spectacle! Cirque Bijou brought ArtsDepot alive and it is something audiences will remember for a long time.
—Kerry Andrews, Head of programming, ArtsDepot
Tens of thousands of people watched an amazing array of world class acts on the Cirque Bijou stage, providing one of the highlights of the 2011 Harbour Festival.
—Phillippa Haynes, Head of Arts and Culture, Bristol City Council
Life in Bristol-based circus kings Cirque Bijou is colourful, challenging, spectacular and often faintly surreal – but rarely is it dull.
—Steve Wright, Venue Magazine, 10th anniversary feature
We’re proud to have you in the city.
—Key Arts Providers for Bristol City Council
It was a wonderful idea – it makes you think, if people can do that, then nothing is impossible.
The launch kick started our campaign and raised the profile of Bristol as a Green Capital across the world. Cirque Bijou’s team was great – creative, dedicated and highly professional throughout the life of the project.
—Zoe Sear, Marketing and Communications Director, Bristol 2015
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