Old, Possibly a-Little Strange, Music

I didn’t know where else to put this, but it just struck me that early Can evokes a similar sort of feeling in me to Television—except, you know, more unhinged.

The bands aren’t really very similar at all, aside from existing around the same time, roughly, and both sounding… still kind of weirdly contemporary even up through the '90s. As I guess lots of post-punk bands will do.



I’ve always liked this song.

(I also like Tobiah’s version. )


Oh. I haven’t heard this in an age. Or knew who wrote it. Yes, this is lovely.

I’ve used that song to get people aligned on a few game projects, it’s a theme I’ve been obsessed with since Robo tending the forest

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I might have mentioned this before at SB, but it’s something I’ve never been able to stop thinking about. When I was in high school, the local college radio station had a “strange music” show that started at midnight on Saturdays (or maybe it was Sundays). I stayed up to listen to it whenever I remembered.

This wasn’t like things you’d hear on the Dr. Demento show (which I also listened to regularly). The songs that I remember from it had lyrics that you might call surrealist. They weren’t random nonsense or comedy but maybe more along the lines of some They Might Be Giants songs, only less playful and more serious-sounding. I don’t remember any mention of musician names, titles, or sources.

These are the two examples I can remember most clearly:

  • A song from the perspective of someone working in a mine. The song is repetitive, representing the work, and the miner keeps mentioning how tired he is between verses. He sounds more exhausted as the song goes on. There might be mining equipment sounds as well.
  • A married couple alternating verses and singing about what it’s like to live on a farm. One is intense, describing difficult work and at one point mentioning the barn burning down. Ending with “This is what it means to be a farmer.” The other is quiet and ethereal, saying things such as “My other car is a tractor” and something about watching the moon at night. Later, verses start to mix up earlier elements. For example, “My other car is the moon.”

I think it was always the same DJ, and he’d say things such as “music too weird for mass consumption.” During one show, he talked extensively about it being “rabbit month” and shared information about rabbits. For example, that you’d starve if you were on an island with nothing but rabbits to eat because you’d expend more energy than you’d get from eating them.

In later years I occasionally encountered someone who had worked at the station at some point but no one ever knew what I was talking about. I even called the station once or twice to ask whether there was any record of that show but there wasn’t.


The mine song probably isn’t Sixteen Tons, as that’s not particularly strange, but the description of it makes me think of Sixteen Tons.

It’s basically about the capitalist abuses that led to the 20th century labor movement… which is now effectively dead, so, like. Anyone born after 1980 should relate.


idk if this is getting the thread back on track or diverting it further, but theresa teng sang a ‘cover’ of this with entirely different lyrics in mandarin. it’s really uncharacteristic of her because it is super sassy and has a lot of little weird flourishes in the vocals, in most of her songs she just sings with this really sincere and pure voice so it is kind of strange to hear.

lots of other people have done this version in mandarin too apparently but i like hers the best

(the new lyrics are not really anything like 16 tons, it’s about like… how if you want to be happy you have to suffer and be patient lol)


Ruth White’s music is somewhat old and sometimes strange.

Bonus track for @Mikey:


this kinda wrecked me the other day, just so odd for the time it was released

I like the idea of this thread, I too have a specific interest in music that’s old and strange in a subversive manner. This song in particular interests me because it’s just so at odds with modern sensibilities. i don’t mean that in terms of style but just the little weird flourishes of this track suggest a music listening population more attuned/accepting of melancholy weirdness.

Music today is just so rational and meticulously curated that something like this would never happen I don’t think.


White Noise was a 1960s studio project of, like… a few people, significantly Delia Derbyshire, trying to find a way to incorporate radiophonic techniques into pop music in the days shortly before discrete synthesizers were really a thing. It, uh, didn’t quite take off. But the album is a significant footnote for a certain kind of study.

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This song has always creeped me out for reasons I struggle to articulate. The odd minor key, the harpsichord. Feels like a strange older relative from whom one may never escape.


this song resurfaced on a compilation sold exclusively in a french boutique, that compilation got a wide release recently and this one might be my favorite track on it