Goodfellas: The 1997 Reading, with an Accent?
Back in 1997, I went to my Uncle’s home in the North where he had setup his grand audio studio, complete with Reel to Reel cutting and 20–30 Master copy decks… cassette decks. I was seventeen and eager to learn. I looked at the room and all I could see was equipment and wall to wall racking with an assortment of assorted assortments, including hardware, speakers, sound systems, vinyl decks, 8 track, multi track, a book, the history of Am Track… Okay, i made that last one up… let’s call it a play on words.
I don’t know what I was thinking back then, but surely it was along the lines of “Wow, reel to reel, cutting and splicing audio tape… this is a skill that will last forever. I’ll show them!”
So firstly, My Uncle Clive needed me to do a little work. We spliced a few tape reels. No doubt they were old stock that he had lying around that he just wanted me to mess with, but he always made sure that everything I did was of surmountable importance.
He did the same years before when I visited him at the news station at Border television. I was allowed to give a weather report, using the stickers on the board (nothing projected. everything was so real even Natalie Portman would have known what was going on*.
But back in his home studio, I was getting into it. Cutting and taping. I was concerned about my finger prints being on the tape but I recall the remind that it was audio tape only, not film reel.
It’s the little things.
So when I had finally had enough of that. I showed my Uncle some of my poetry. He asked if I was depressed and we briskly changed the subject back to recording…
“Now do you want to record any of your poetry for audio? I can make you a recording of your best poems to take home with you.”
After being asked if I was in fact morbidly affected by my attempt at making words flow in a blissful and narcissistic fashion, I thought about doing something else instead. I was a film student at the time. I was hooked on Scorsese so much that I had bought the Goodfellas screenplay. I went to my room and came back with it and with almost a sigh of relief not to have to listen and edit my sad little ramblings of heart felt glop, he showed me to the sound proof room and set me up to record.
I sat there very aware that I was about to record something that was coming from my own mouth. I was also aware that somebody on the other side of the window… somebody who was eager to ensure that I had the education I needed to project me into the analogue tape spicing world… all prepared with tape splicing 101.
“Should I do it in my own voice or should I do it in the accent of Henry Hill?”
“Can you do the accent?” My uncle asked, looking forward to seeing what I could do. You see, my Uncle was not only an audio wizard, a professional News broadcaster, he was (and still is) an actor at heart. I remember, we would sit at the breakfast table and he would come bounding in with an accent, be it Irish, American, Scottish or Welsh… you name it! We would all hopefully try and join the conversation with our own spin on the region he introduced and the merriment would go on long after spitting out toast and Marmite over fits of laughter.
So yes, I gave the accent a go. I didn’t give any thought to region or cadence, inflection on words, nor did I give a damn about any changes in the lexical framework from which the American language had formed and evolved over the recent history of the United States of America. I remember seeing Goodfellas, I knew that New Yorkers had something specific to lean on and I did that.
Today as I was sorting out my files, I found that audio recording. I remember that day to be one of the most fun I had with an extended relative (second to munching on Pesto on amazingly fresh warm rolls and drinking Egyptian coffee with my cousin Julia.)
So here we go… a blast from the past. Don’t judge the accent, but please let me know if it doesn’t sound like it’s from South Africa.
*star wars reference to Natalie Portman being uneasy with green screen, or was it the lack of direction from Mr George Lucas himself. It hasn’t completely put her off the idea.