Feb 9, 2017
The novelist and countercultural icon Paul Bowles -- author of The Sheltering Sky, friend to William Burroughs, Gertrude Stein, and Tennessee Williams, and husband of the brilliant writer Jane Bowles -- lived in Tangier from 1947 until his death fifty-two years later. In 1959, he received a grant from the Library of Congress to â€œpreserveâ€ the music of Morocco. He set off in a VW bug (with his two driving companions, a Moroccan and a Canadian), laden with a massive Ampex tape recorder, bottles of hot Pepsi, and a pound of hashish. These remarkable recordings have long been unavailable, but last year, the label Dust-to-Digital released them as a deluxe box set. The Organist asked the writer Brian Edwards to listen to the tapes, and to tell Bowlesâ€™s remarkable story. Brian went through hours of recordings dozens of times, and sent back this report, which raises important questions about the problemsâ€” artistic, technical, and of course ethical â€” of recording a music you love in a country thatâ€™s not your own.
Bowles Marakesh â€” Credit: Courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate / Dust-to-Digital
Bowles-older â€” Credit: Courtesy Irene Herrmann / Dust-to-Digital
Paul Bowles on street-Tangier, June 1955 â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital
Line of singers w Qraqab cymbals 1 drum â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / LibraryÂ of Congress
Double horn group by building â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress
Musicians in front-men with guns behind â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / LibraryÂ of Congress
Foothills-figure by fortress â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of CongressÂ
VW bug along mtn road with small group â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress
Bowles squatting by wall
Loc-Map â€” hand-drawn map by Paul Bowles, showing his itinerary through MoroccoÂ in 1959, aboard a VW Beetle, filled with recording equipment, supplies, and recordingÂ team â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress
Bowles against tapestry â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital
Tangier Group (burroughs, bowles, ginsberg) â€” Credit: Courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate / Dust-to-Digital
Sand village and palm trees â€” Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital
The Organistâ€™s theme music is by Barry London of Oneida.