The [Un]Observed: Listening to Jamie
Bringing new life into the world is a unique, magical, and grueling experience, one that permanently alters the lives of those involved. One thing parents learn early on is that their quiet time is no longer as quiet, especially at night.
BBC Producer Hugh Levinson discovered the sporadic sound spasms of his new son on a cold winter night in London. He was inspired to capture those sounds and create a piece by mixing those sounds with music, personal journal entries, and poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Here is an excerpt that came to us from the Bay Area-based online radio magazine, The [Un]Observed.
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HUGH LEVINSON: As Jamie went to sleep, the audio show started. He was as noisy asleep as awake. Well, almost.
HUGH: Do you remember what the nights were like because it was so dark because it was winter?
ALISON: Yeah, it was sort of punctuated by these sort of percussive noises. He would hammer a little hole in the peaceful night, wouldn’t he?
What could I do but dig out my minidisk machine and hang the mic over the side of the cot to Alison’s amused disgust. As the night wore on Jamie put on a carnival of sound. Some human, some animal, some industrial. Snuffles, wheezes, snorts, mini snorts, grunts, mini grunts, trombone, steam whistle, air escaping from pistons, steam break, industrial press, depth charge, finger nails on a blackboard, rimshot, dolphins clicks, seal, baby elephant, lost baby elephant, piglet, piglet rooting for acorns, piglet getting desperate.
ALISON: Here is a synopsis for a story that's never been written: “The female character is extremely pissed off at the good suggestions from her partner for getting the baby to sleep, which always work.” (Laughs) It ends horribly.
What were you up to Jamie? What distant lands were you visiting in your sleep? I know that when we dream we process everything we have seen and heard during the day and newborn babies are hearing a lot for the first time. All those muffled soundwaves they felt in the womb are now bombarding them loud and clear. So are your snorts and grunts the sound of your dreams?
That's an excerpt from a piece called “Listening to Jamie." It was produced by BBC producer Hugh Levinson. It came to us via The [Un]Observed, an online radio magazine that gathers, selects and presents some of the best radio and audio from around the world. To hear more, please visit theunobserved.com.
This story originally aired on April 28, 2011.