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FROM THIS EPISODE

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 “preserve” 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 Bowles’s remarkable story. Brian went through hours of recordings dozens of times, and sent back this report, which raises important questions about the problems— artistic, technical, and of course ethical — of recording a music you love in a country that’s not your own.

Produced by Myke Dodge Weiskopf
Written by Brian T. Edwards
 


Bowles Marakesh — Credit: Courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate / Dust-to-Digital


Bowles-older — Credit: Courtesy Irene Herrmann / Dust-to-Digital


Paul Bowles on street-Tangier, June 1955 — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital


Line of singers w Qraqab cymbals 1 drum — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress


Double horn group by building — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress


Musicians in front-men with guns behind — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress


Foothills-figure by fortress — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress 


VW bug along mtn road with small group — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress


Bowles squatting by wall


Loc-Map — hand-drawn map by Paul Bowles, showing his itinerary through Morocco in 1959, aboard a VW Beetle, filled with recording equipment, supplies, and recording team — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital / Library of Congress


Bowles against tapestry — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital


Tangier Group (burroughs, bowles, ginsberg) — Credit: Courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate / Dust-to-Digital


Sand village and palm trees — Credit: Courtesy Dust-to-Digital


Music in this episode is from Music of Morocco: Recorded by Paul Bowles, 1959. 

The Organist’s theme music is by Barry London of Oneida.

CREDITS

Producers:
Myke Dodge Weiskopf

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