Some people wake up at four in the morning wondering if they’ve left the light on in the kitchen. I wake up in a cold sweat wondering if there’s some country that I’ve forgotten, some place on Earth that’s slipped through my fingers. For many years now, I’ve collected music from the farthest reaches of the planet. I’ve found tapes of music from islands in Indonesia where drummers build their own instruments and eat them after each performance; records of Eskimos who sing into each others’ mouths; forty-fives of South African bands that sound just like the Sir Douglas Quintet; and records of Mongolian houmi singers who can hit three notes simultaneously. When I can’t sleep, I go wading through my collection like Scrooge McDuck swims in his money bin.
And so I panicked when I awoke one night—this was now more than thirty years ago—and realized that I had no Albanian records. Not a one. And I didn’t even know where to look. Read More