New Feature: GeoMP3 of the Week

Filed under: Geotagging — geoLibro @ 10:44 pm

Let’s try this for a while: since I’m doing this anyway by geotagging my iTunes library, every Friday I’ll post for download an mp* file (mp3, mp4, etc.) of some song that happens to have some implicit geospatial reference and, presumably, is somehow colored by its geospatial…ness. Accompanying this file will be a kml that will take you to that location, if you’re so inclined. Some parameters:

  • I don’t really want to pay for WordPress space, so I’ll be taking each one down ~2 weeks after they’re posted.
  • I will resist the urge to make every week a Tom Waits week. (First week doesn’t count).
  • I may or may not add a little gloss to each entry about the song’s geography.
  • I will tend to stick to bootlegs, torrented live shows, rarities, etc. (First week doesn’t count).

Good? So let’s get on with it. The first week is a double, featuring two versions of Tom Waits’ classic "Johnsburg, Illinois." This isn’t Waits’ best song ever ("Make it Rain" from Real Gone is, of course), but it’s a remarkably well-built, fundamental romance, referencing and aggrandizing (by proxy, no doubt) the town in which his wife, Kathleen Brennan, grew up. According to Waits (according to Pieter Hartmans’s at least) in a 1983 interview, Brennan was raised "up by the Ching-a-Lings" on a farm that was situated, you guessed it, "outside McHenry" near the Wisconsin border. I would be interested in hearing from anybody who has any insight as to where the Ching-a-Lings tended to be, presuming they were in Johnsburg/McHenry at all.

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Swordfishtrombones in 1983)

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Big Time in 1988)

kml (or just a GMaps lookup)



  1. That’s a cool idea. I tried something similar as a flickr musical “memory map” two years back (remember before all the cool google tools? I stalled out. It looks like the tools are in place to do it right now.

    Comment by Mike — 2007.May.19 @ 1:12 am

  2. Exactly the idea. Same thing. Cool. And I have some Ramblin’ Jack on my list, too. But there’s also a pretty “high potentiality,” as Snoopy Miller said, for the “commoner” (me) to bitch out of this. I can barely cobble together the time to write regular posts here.

    Comment by geoLibro — 2007.May.19 @ 2:43 am

  3. Great idea – for hosting, it may be worth checking out Dreamhost. For approx $8/month you get ‘nearly unlimited’ data storage & bandwidth, and easy install/setup (and actual ssh access) for WordPress et al.

    Then you could have a KML (and GeoRSS!) link to all past geo-songs.

    Comment by Andrew Turner — 2007.May.21 @ 12:20 pm

  4. Andrew, you’ve convinced me. I have a whole lot of songs in the queue, geoRSS is fun already and will only get better (perhaps with the help of certain wordpress plugins), and Dreamhost has a really good deal going right now. Thanks, Mr. Turner.

    Comment by geoLibro — 2007.May.22 @ 1:50 am

  5. Very Cool.

    We will have a new library completed this coming winter. We have a good deal of music CDs and yesterday a colleague mentioned the ability to play music on a station within the library (ala Borders Bookstore). I’m not sure what permissione we may need to set something like this up (still need to do the research), but your project seems like something quite feasible for me to get a student assistant on with regards to our world music collection.

    Now….do I go with using Arc Products, or Google Earth?


    Comment by Kristen — 2007.May.22 @ 7:45 pm

  6. Kristen, you’re right. A world music collection would be especially good for this. It would be another instance of something that is starting to happen all over: geospace as the menu, maps as catalogs to library collections. As for GE v. ESRI? I am becoming kind of a jerk about this. The more I work with kaMap and MapServer and other open source tools, the less and less I want to do anything with ESRI. I’m not a developer, of course, so although I wouldn’t argue that ESRI is inferior, I have come to appreciate being able to look inside of these applications and just start hacking away until it works (letting real coders fix my mistakes later, of course).

    Anyway, maybe you should proceed with the very distant notion that your world music geodata might someday become part of an integrated (but extensible) data store (that another library could connect to, for example, or that other users could access and mash into something else). I’ve been working on a couple of projects and as we go further in I’ve been thinking more and more about how valuable it will be to allow users to mash with our data and tools. There might be grant money in that that could help pay for your student assistant.

    Comment by geoLibro — 2007.May.23 @ 3:30 pm

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