Duga Nota (The Long Note) is a radio show aired every fourth Saturday from 10 to 12 PM at the Yammat.fm radio station in Zagreb, Croatia. The show is actually a musical rendition of the manuscript for the book Duga Nota (The Long Note) I’ve written in 2018 and 2019, to be published in 2021. Every episode is a loose interpretation of the content of a single chapter in the book.
Below are the links to all of the Duga nota episodes aired on the Yammat.fm radio thus far. Yammat.fm uploads the shows to their channel at the MixCloud platform where they are directly searchable under its name (Duga Nota) or by my own name (Mladen Vukmir DUGA NOTA). Duga Nota project is easiest to reach via its dedicated web page where all relevant links can be found. Other information regarding the project (either the book or the radio show) can be found on the FB page Duga Nota. I also post the playlists for each of the episodes as text in the comments to its MixCloud uploads.
I will be adding the links here below as the shows are made available by the radio station. I will be accompanying each link below with a link to the Apple music playlist I create in the preparations for each episode. For some of the shows, there will be significantly more tracks in the playlist than aired so you can explore and enjoy more music. Those bonus tracks are the songs I have considered in preparing the shows, but could not be squeezed into the two-hour format.
I will be also posting the summaries that I prepare for each episode as it is posted on the Stražarni lopov blog. The summaries are also partially available in the MixCloud descriptions posted by the radio station. This blog post is intended to reach English-speaking listeners, so all the summaries are translated into English. If your intuition tells you that there might be second meanings and hidden clues in the way I have selected and juxtaposed the music for the shows, then they probably are! Indeed, I do play not only with my own memories and toss the associations between the musicians, songs, and the times in which they were created, I actually do! However, not all of those combinations are mentioned explicitly, nor do I lay out the clues for you in all of the instances. Indeed, I actively seek links and coincidences, overlapping influences, and other mysterious, almost holographic occurrences between the songs we listen to in the show. Therefore, please go and seek the hidden flows which might even further enhance your enjoying all of the music in the show.
If your intuition tells you that there might be second meanings and hidden clues in the way I have selected and juxtaposed the music for the shows, then they probably are! Indeed, I do play not only with my own memories and toss the associations between the musicians, songs, and the times in which they were created, I actually do! However, not all of those combinations are mentioned explicitly, nor do I lay out the clues for you in all of the instances. Indeed, I actively seek links and coincidences, overlapping influences, and other mysterious, almost holographic occurrences between the songs we listen to in the show. Therefore, please go and seek the hidden flows which might even further enhance your enjoying all of the music in the show.
Finally, although the radio show is conducted in the Croatian language, Duga Nota is first and foremost a music program, and music dominates spoken segments by far. Only segments from the book read by Robert Šantek, Dubravk Bratoljić, and Antonija Vrčić can be longer more than a couple of minutes. I, therefore, trust that all of you can enjoy it as it is played, regardless of the language. An American friend, keen on music, said after listening to the show: Mladen – Speaking honestly, that’s one of the best rock and roll radio programs I’ve ever heard – truly great selection of tunes – really wide range of stuff. Now if I only could understand Croatian.
You have heard the opening jingle of the show: Duga nota! Glazba kojom smo mijenjali sebe i pokrenuli promjenu koja traje. Kako smo postali duga, ostali mladi i druge priče. Duga nota; autor i voditelj Mladen Vukmir. Samo na 102 sve 5! and might wonder what it all means? It is a poetic abbreviation of the book’s concept and it roughly translates as: Long note! Music by which we have transformed ourselves and have started a lasting change. How did we become a rainbow (in the Croatian language the word for long and for rainbow are written the same, allowing for this wordplay), remained young, and other stories. Long note: author and host Mladen Vukmir. Exclusively at one-o-two all five (instead of point five, as all five is a Croatian slang for OK)!
Episode 20 Čista apstrakcija (Pure Abstraction). We wouldn’t have rock and roll without African-American music and culture. It is remarkable how many people forgot that so much of the excitement we felt from the mid-Fifties to mid-eighties stemmed from the fusion of Western and Afro-American and African cultures. It was one of the strongest such fusions in the history of mankind and all of us who grew up expressing our emotion through the rhythm played on the drums are actually African at heart. Expressing emotions became a new trait of western societies and it was largely modeled on the ways black musicians were expressing their feelings. Singing these songs of pain and suffering, about humiliation and denigration was a thankless task though. It was a slow and painful movement that is still only in its initial phase and the extraordinary grace, style, and spirit in which the Afro-American musician express themselves surpassed so many of much less expressive, passionate, or dynamic music the generations of the white Westerners were used to before the onset of jazz at the very beginning of the twentieth century. It was blues that fused into rock, followed by other afro-based idioms of the new world, be it gospel, soul, funk, rap, reggae, bossa nova, salsa, or many others. In this episode, we are mostly looking into a small window of time around the civil rights movement in the US in the mid-sixties, and we listen to a lot of soul, both of the political variety and the one dedicated to love. In order to show the uninterrupted flow of sentiment as a political tool, we are making incursions into Afro-American music closer to our days, such as rap and hip hop as well as to the links between the different periods.
Episode 19 Jukebox. Rock music did not bring us either immortality or eternal youth, as it had seemed to have had promised. At those times, the jukeboxes, glittering and shining with chrome and blinking colored lights beside the wall, seemed to guarantee that music will be booming everywhere and forever and ever. Alas, it was not to be, and around the turn of the eighties, that box, the closest monument to both the instant and the eternity, was gone just as an endangered species vanishes. It might have been the Walkman that did it away or the constant stream of the prepackaged music from the MTV channel running on the tube mounted on the pub wall. I keep three memories that define my jukebox experience. My sister and I are rushing across the restaurant to ask our parents for more coins to fuel the music, which we didn’t want to stop… The endless flow of coolest hits in July of ‘76, during the warmest summer on record in England, the taste of cider and the massive British coins between my fingers… An early craft brewery cellar on a chilly night in a New England coastal port town, boiling with hip crowds, relaxation, sweat, passion, and heat, the past and the future just after the turn of the Millennium, where I have understood that rock might never die… If we keep on keeping it alive…
Episode 18 T-shirt. This time, we are peeking into pretty confusing times for rock and roll. After punk leveled the rockist culture into the wastelands after the retro-this and retro-that established postmodernist aesthetic in a rock context, the rules of engagement changed profoundly for all. Unlike before, the musicians and other artists started trying to look into the future by looking into the past, hoping to provide guidance and the ever more elusive innovation. Nevertheless, it was a time of great excitement, incessant dance parties, and overcharged glittering hipness. Naked torsos on the disco floor were yet to be scared by the AIDS epidemic, and digital entertainment was still only a concept that looked soo cool that it seemed to have been worth our support. Both former long-haired freaks and spikes-haired punks either cut their long hair or coiffed their spikes into the new-romantic big hair and donned jackets and narrow ties. Not happiest of times in truth, greed oozing from the piles of cash and cocaine everywhere around, but interesting to a great degree, and the music seemed to be getting crazier than ever. What was highly unusual, and has determined the period, ultimately leading to the weakening of the rock culture, is the sudden foray of fashion into prominence. Fashion designers achieved even higher status than rock musicians held in the past practically overnight. It was suddenly more fashionable and cool to hang out with fashion designers than rock musicians at a party. The time has come that fashion, for the very first time, rose above the importance of music within the rock culture. Although fashion was always one of the most important elements of every rock subculture, most often coding its very identity, most frequently together with a specific drug, its role was still never above that of music on the totem pole of the order of values of the rock culture. Towards the mid-eighties, this has had suddenly turned upside down, and without any real resistance. When I look back, this, for me, is the first time rock music has run out of breath, out of ideas. Looking back, engaging in reinterpretations, such as was the case with rockabilly, mod, surf, or other recycled subcultures, became a source of inspiration. Innovation was reduced to interpretation. Ultimately, despite its emerging troubles, rock culture was still strong compared to what will follow. The emergence of MTV seemed to flatter us all, and we (mis)took it as confirmation of rock culture’s unstoppable march as the leading element of the global culture. Not many of us understood at the time that this rise of fashion and TV actually spelled the end of the rock era and that in only a few short years so many of us will turn even more retro and start listening to jazz. We started abandoning rock music as it increasingly seemed empty of its strengths and devoid of its original meaning.
Episode 17 Elanke I Polet (Elan skis and Polet magazine). When I started working for Polet, a weekly newspaper financed by the Socialist Youth League I needed to reconcile my full and total rejection of any ideology and belonging to a political stream, which I disliked strongly, with the need to function in the editorial team. Paradoxically, my family background was putting me at odds with the communist regime, but in the end, I have learned to fight for the freedom of speech from my coworkers at Polet, many of which belonged to the party. My family only thought me to be silent and these new friends thought me to move the borders of freedom further and wider. The music at the time was getting ever more interesting and more diverse, with many new currents running in parallel. Early post-punk was a time of courageous exploration, imaginative creation, and the promise of the new. It seemed to all of us that rock has just thoroughly reinvented itself and that it will be able of repeating this Phoenix-like move over and over again, until today. Alas, this was not to be, and only later, when rock culture started dwindling did we understand that all this reinvention and branching out weakened the core of what used to be rock counterculture. We look at reggae-tinted tunes, numerous female artists’ bands, Manchester and especially Liverpool scenes, post punk-funk, and New York No Wave and second wave scenes. Enjoy!
Episode 16 In the City (U gradu) is an episode about the advent of punk. 1977 will forever be considered the year zero of the rock revival. While the sharp edge of the social influence of rock culture got gradually blunted during the first half of the 1970s, in the second half the influence of rock music began to evaporate further. The ballads were still inspired but remained syrupy and without the ambition to reflect the vibrant depths of youthful feelings. Music simply became just music and ceased to be a lever of social change. The record industry had its own plans on how to raise the dynamics of sales and at the same time convinced young people with music that their desire to dance should be the ultimate goal of their rebellion. Disco music, a derivative of soul and funk music inflated with consumer steroids, has become the dominant expression of the music scene. Beneath that glistening, syrupy glaze boiled dark clouds of the threat of unemployment, disenfranchisement, and growing inequality that would mark the coming decades. In those years, rock culture was still alive, and its reaction to this development was unexpectedly strong. Back to the roots, the rock rebellion was based on the energy planted in the late fifties and early sixties, but in a black and white version, the dark and dirty surroundings of the streets full of glass of broken shop windows in flames became the face of punk. Unlike the chrome stools in the bars and on the bumpers of colorful cars, the pastel colors of clean girls ’dresses and new guitars, now blood, sweat, smudged makeup, chains, and needles have become the face of rock culture. Punks didn’t care what price rock culture would pay, they rejected it and trampled on it regardless of the consequences. And in that short period of a couple of years, while the rise of nihilism lasted, they created one of the absolute peaks of rock culture.
Episode 15 The End of the World (Kraj Svijeta) is an episode in which we observe the implosion and explosion of subcultures, in this case, one of the biggest shifts in rock history. As a long-haired kid, I thought that the beauty of the groovy culture of love and peace would never cease, and I had little doubt that I would grow old with it. Life soon showed me that expectations were not good support for the journey through life, and the influence of the blues was almost overnight replaced by the influence of another African-American idiom, Jamaican reggae music. It was just a preparation for another shift in rock and roll that would follow soon, and which would teach us that only change can allow for continuation and growth. The renunciation of the sweetest, first youth is replaced by a new youth, thus prolonging the age of excitement, discovery, and contentment. What first seemed intimidating soon became close and endearing. The episode begins with a couple of tracks illustrating traditional rock, and then explores hints within rock music where hints of changes we didn’t yet know awaited us, such as art and glam rock subcultures, were hinted at. Our playlist then enters the waters of reggae music, and we listen to some of the subtypes of reggae and dub music as well as several tracks that show the influences of reggae music on other rock genres, as well as a few that preceded and whose influence is heard in reggae.
Episode 14 On the Road explores the cool and mystic sides of the country, country rock, country folk, and meta-country music of our times. On the Road is digging into the less expected and less obvious connections between country and jazz music and finds a fertile field in which this crossover thrives. This episode takes us, bottle in hand, on a trip from the US urban hives into the prairies, across the misty ridges, and through small towns. Musicians such as singers, songwriters, buskers and bands, gents and ladies, growing up as sad kids, yearning after their drifting fathers who left homes early, lots of unhappiness soaked in booze, dope, desperation, and more abandonment, tell us their stories. Yet bright new dawns are always rising again and again, as the dew covers the prairies, winds combing the tall grasses towards the noon. When we reach the age of meta-country, music shapes into the mystical crystals of powerful beauty and we fly on it. The winding roads below us, a lone car speeding through the curve in the dark woods, the trains crawling through the tight bends of faraway valleys and rivers… The musicians who are singing the songs of joy out of desperation and quietly recounting the sad tales in order to teach us what happiness is composed of beautiful tunes that ring for decades. This is, my friends, a story about the roots of all of us living today, about friendship, about sisterhood, about aimless drifting, about traveling, hopping on a freight train and going far away, searching for a place to settle and to be happy.
Episode 13 Patchouli: Duga Nota is back! The show is back on the radio waves to recreate the feeling that hit you the first time you were ever touched by rock music! Even better, who hasn’t listened to rock when it was the main thing on the planet, listening to the Duga Nota show nowadays can help to figure out what it was all about.
In episode #13, dedicated to a chapter of the book called Patchouli, we look at how young people who grew up under the shadow of an atomic explosion mushroom turned their fears and anxieties into hope and sensitivity.
The most numerous generation of kids in history, by exploring consciousness and social relationships, sought to build new relationships in which fun and deep meaning, self-immersion, and dance, as in a kaleidoscope, evoked new, colorful rearrangements of existing reality. Can the fear of nuclear war and the fear of a pandemic be compared? Listen in this episode to how has music they’ve made and changing consciousness offered kids new relationships with societies that they have outgrown. The music we play in the Patchouli episode originated mostly in the second half of the sixties and the first years of the seventies, it is full of feelings, in the incessant search for beauty and striving to build hope. Enjoy, it’s the strongest dose of the 2020 vaccine you’ll find.
Episode 12 Alone, Jimi and I (Sam, Jimi i ja): A night at the disco. Full of desire and trepidation kids gather to meet each other in a cavernous basement, seeking a kindred soul, hot lips, and a wet mouth to kiss. Staying late, all dripping sweat from dancing, as there were always more of those who did not find a boyfriend or a girlfriend on any given night, than those who did, they soaked their desire in beer and music. Smoking pot in the corner and dancing freely, expressing their desire and their will to change the world. Such was a disco club in the heart of town, in Zagreb back in 1975 and 1976 where my teenage self used to hang out night after night making new friends, meeting old, and looking for girlfriends. On the lower floor of the Big Ben discotheque, we were dancing, in the corridor, and on the stairs connecting it to the upper floor, we were kissing each other. On the upper floor, on a second stage music was played to be listened to carefully. In the listening room, we were getting acquainted with the music from the bands we were less familiar with or whose records were not available locally. After soaking in the music we would return to the boiling grotto to dance the night away. DJ Milan Mlakar knew how to whip up the scene, night after night at the age when rock and roll were still growing up. Same Old Story by Taste would allow the last spastic dance before we would join the line to pick up our coats and call it a night only to return the next evening.
Episode 11 220: The electricity-powered baby boomers wish to change the world. Grupa 220 was the first Yugoslav rock group that recorded an LP of their own songs. They took their name from the voltage they were plugging their amps and instruments in. In this episode, I wish to thank all those glorious kids who composed songs that bellied the belief that it is at all possible to compose songs of eternal youth. Yet, it did happen and most of these songs will live long after their composers will not be around anymore. Electrical instruments were a kind of novelty at the time I got to this world and were dominating the world by the time I became a teenager. First, I tell a story of when I tried playing in a band. Now, that was an experience of unbelievable beauty, possibly decisive in turning me into a lifelong music fan. The feeling of floating together brought me, together with my friends, somewhere else – there where life was at its purest. I glimpsed into that beauty by listening to my friends rehearse well before that and was able to emotionally follow their flow as they played. Playing together with them, that was really special. Once I told my listeners that story, I played rock hits that stayed out of time; the most beautiful melodies I could recall having heard while growing up. My DJing was a sheer gesture of thankfulness to all those kids floating on the magic carpet of their joint emotions. Long live rock and roll and god save it its electric soul!
I hope this picture of myself and Bota (to my left, i.e. to your right) at Džamija approx. 1976, close to our high school, shows how much we were part of the rock culture. Not only it is visible here, it is almost palpable. I sewed the round yellow Woodstock patch onto my jeans jacket myself. The photo was taken by Leo Knežić and we are apparently watching someone playing guitar.
Join the FB page Duga nota.
Finally, I have been invited as a guest DJ to a 20:02 program at the Yammat.fm radio some six months before I started the Duga nota show. I did, however, already hold a similar approach and have selected some deep cuts from the contemporary rhythm and blues scene. I hope you will enjoy that too as it is one of my favorite playlists: