It was a curious day of my life when I met Mickey Dobo, recorder of ferns. It only got curiouser after that. I was walking in a daze through St. Elmo, a neighborhood of Chattanooga. I had just slept for 24 days at the bottom of the Tennessee River and was trying to dry off. It wasn't easy. It was so humid you could barely open your eyes to see the clouds draped on the sky like a sodden quilt, yellowing with mildew.
But when I heard the click of Mickey's RadioShack tape recorder, my eyes opened wide. It sat in the palm of his right hand like a small pet. He was crouched down beside a purple mailbox, thrusting his tape recorder into a great big fern. I walked up beside him, and before I could say Hello he asked me a question I'll never forget, "Have you ever heard a fern singing?"
He played me some of the tape he was making. Wonderful. He introduced me to Dr. Staring, a bee with a broken wing who flies on a charmed feather. Everything felt wonderful. Splendid. I insisted that he demonstrate his process of fern recording. He showed me all his favorite haunts in the woods of Lookout Mountain. The myriad resonances of the ferns were so beautiful that we happily endured two thunder storms just to keep the tapes rolling. We ended up spending the whole night out there with the ferns, the fireflies, the crickets, the rain, and the lonesome braying of train engines.
What you now hold in your hand is a copy of the recordings we made that night.
Mickey sells his tapes in Chattanooga drugstores, from Soddy Daisy down to Tiftonia. The local population uses them for healing everything
from sunburn to sore throat. Nuns use them in their meditations on life and love. I know personally of a yoga instructor who plays them for her classes at the YMCA. Dentists find they make a harmless substitute for their anaesthetics.
But most of all, Mr. Dobo and I hope this music makes good medicine for YOU.
P.S. Chattanooga pharmacists advise full headphone immersion to maximize the medicinal effects of fern music.
RECORDINGS OF FERNS is currently available as a digital download and a 12" vinyl LP.
This is the first release of a new Chattanooga record label: Teaberry Records, specializing in interesting sounds. Help us release more music!
To buy an LP, send an email to lewmeri (at) gmail.com
Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.