Phil Nohl: What Are You Listening To?

Homemade Antique Recordings from Wisconsin's Phil Nohl

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/3225084/3293139" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Phil Nohl

Phil Nohl with some albums from his collection. hide caption

itoggle caption

Each month, All Things Considered asks listeners to share the music they listen to. Sometimes we find out about the latest indie rock album. On other occasions, it's a classical symphony. This week, we talk to Phil Nohl from Sheboygan, Wisconsin about his unusual collection of homemade recordings from the 1940s.

Samples of Antique Recordio Recordings

Listen 'No Letter Today'

Listen 'Pistol Packin' Mama'

Listen 'Gena and Grandpa Dave, from Davie'

Listen 'The Story Ends' (performed by Eve Chaste)

Listen 'My Blue Heaven'

Nohl owns about 2,000 albums of music and spoken word recorded by various strangers. A popular device called the recordio, which first appeared in the 1940s, allowed people to record themselves in their own homes singing, playing instruments, performing skits, or simply talking. The albums they created now offer a tiny glimpse into past lives and American culture.

Nohl's collection is expansive and encompasses songs, drunken celebrations, and even arguments. Most of them have little or no information about who made them or why. "These recordings are like pages of a history book," Nohl says. "The more pages you have, the more opportunity you have to string the story together."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.