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March 15, 2009 6:09 AM   Subscribe

The Musical Mystery of Connie Converse
"To survive at all, I expect I must drift back down through the other half of the twentieth twentieth, which I already know pretty well, the hundredth hundredth, which I have only read and heard about. I might survive there quite a few years - who knows?"

This was the cryptic note Connie Converse left her family in 1974, and no one heard from her again. She had spent the 1950's in New York City, trying to promote her music- haunting, melancholy folk tunes, but never made a go of it. Her songs very nearly disappeared into the ether, but thanks to Lau derrete Records, her first album is now available to the public, fifty years after the songs were recorded. (via Spinning On Air)
posted by kimdog (13 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Nice sunday morning post... thanks...
posted by HuronBob at 6:32 AM on March 15, 2009

Does anyone know if the rest of the text of the letter is posted anywhere? I'm all ready to figure out what she meant.
posted by nosila at 6:43 AM on March 15, 2009

I love this music! Great post Kimdog.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:45 AM on March 15, 2009

Yes, these are great songs. Who owns the rights to these, out of curiosity?
posted by nosila at 6:48 AM on March 15, 2009

nosila... the SFgate article says that her brother, Phil, owns the rights. She specifically gave him copyright and control of all songs when she disappeared.
posted by kimdog at 6:52 AM on March 15, 2009

According to the article, she gave the rights to her brother.
posted by HuronBob at 6:52 AM on March 15, 2009

Yes, these are great songs. Who owns the rights to these, out of curiosity?

This can be a complex question, legally, with respect to the recorded songs. Songs recorded before 1972 generally do not have federal copyright protection. They are protected by state law, if at all. Under state law, sometimes ownership of the recordings goes to the producer rather than the artist, or was transferred along with the physical recordings themselves. So despite Converse's will, the recordings might belong to Gene Dietch, the person who recorded the songs and archived the tapes.
posted by footnote at 7:37 AM on March 15, 2009

An interesting story—thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 8:47 AM on March 15, 2009

It's obvious- she went to Denver.
posted by Bageena at 10:25 AM on March 15, 2009

Really good songs. You can preview part of each song on the album on amazon album page. She's like Nick Drake who likely committed suicide in the 70s; his songs were also sad and minimalistic, one of his albums is called Five Leaves Left, after the famous O'Henry short story.
posted by rainy at 2:24 PM on March 15, 2009

It's obvious- she went to Denver.

And now Denver is lonesome for her heroes.
posted by rokusan at 3:18 PM on March 15, 2009

Yes, these are great songs. Who owns the rights to these, out of curiosity?

I know people who reissue old recordings, and the issue of orphan works is a major problem. An orphan work refers to any work where the copyright holder is unknown or cannot be located. Although the Connie Converse tapes might not technically be an orphan work, the lack of clarity in the law in determining who actually owns the rights to Converse's work may make it a de facto orphan work. Our system of copyright law is so dysfunctional that often ownership is not awarded to the person whose claim on the intellectual property has the most merit but to whomever has the better lawyer. Thousands of musical works uncovered by collectors and researchers cannot get the niche audience they deserve, because the copyright law is so screwed up.
posted by jonp72 at 5:46 PM on March 15, 2009

Her songs are wonderful!

"Up in the tree, there's a kind of squirrel thing
it sounds like we used to do, when we were quarreling."
posted by Faze at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

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