One of the first questions that people ask me when they recognize me in public as “that guy from the newspaper:” How do you come up with things to write about every week? Well, it can be challenging.
Sometimes inspiration will strike when I’m out and about here in the State Fair City. Sometimes a story by a Sedalia Democrat reporter is particularly interesting. But most of the time, I find myself putting “Sedalia” and a number of other relevant phrases into the search bars on sites like Google, Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is always full of people whining about how they can’t wait to get out of Sedalia. One search even brought me an image of a stress relief drug that happens to share a name with the city that we call home.
But I never thought to put “Sedalia” into the iTunes search bar, mostly because I don’t have iTunes downloaded on my computer. My friend and fellow columnist Bob Satnan contacted me on Facebook not too long ago and told me about an album called Sedalia from a band called Tol & Tol. Thankfully, learning about their agreeably titled 1991 album doesn’t essentially require iTunes.
Cees and Thomas Tol are brothers and band mates from Volendam, North Holland, in the Netherlands. They are purveyors of Dutch pop music, commonly called “Nederpop.” The most famous Dutch musical exports are probably Golden Earring (Twilight Zone, Radar Love) and Shocking Blue (Venus).
Tol & Tol, while reasonably popular in their homeland in their day, were apparently not notable enough on a large scale to even merit inclusion on the “Nederpop” Wikipedia page. But tomorrow that could change, so that doesn’t essentially mean anything.
But why call an album Sedalia? I don’t know; all of the available resources I can find state it doesn’t mean anything in Dutch. Judging by the cowboy feeling of songs like “Pecos Trail” maybe they stumbled upon an episode of “Rawhide” and liked what they saw. This seems to be a Dutch album that is vaguely cowboy-themed so they decided to use the name of a cowboy town in popular culture that just happened to actually exist. I prefer to think that Sedalia’s reputation is powerful enough to inspire foreign concept albums.
Fortunately all of the songs from “Sedalia” can be found on YouTube and they’re… weird. But I expected no less from Nederpop – it’s not that weird, I guess.
Their intros sound a lot like incidental video game music, or the background music they play over the loud speakers at a theme park that will never exist. The album is a little Ennio Morricone, a little Enya and a little The Alan Parsons Project. It’s all supremely relaxing and encouraging and most of the songs can be enjoyed by people all over the world since they’re mostly instrumental.
“Antarctic Sunrise” (Not to be confused with “Mexican Sunrise” on one of their later albums) has a couple of moments where it’s a little too close to The Alan Parson Project’s “Games People Play” though it’s probably easy to inadvertently do something like that with a synthesizer.
The title track, “Sedalia,” is like a Dutch Flamenco song. It’s the kind of music I’d expect to hear on a street corner in South America played by people in ponchos who want to share their musical tradition with me in exchange for my American dollars.
But the best song on the album is “The Leaving Of Marcia Dundee.” It’s like the main theme from a lost classic western. It’s what they would play when the hero rolls into town and the situation seems momentarily full of hope and it’s what they would play at the end of the movie when the outlaw is finally lying dead in the street and the hero is riding off into the sunset to find another frontier town that needs a dose of his unique brand of western justice.
Or maybe the whole album has nothing to do with Sedalia, Missouri, at all. Maybe you should hit up YouTube and see for yourself.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.