Students find it in the stacks: Plantasia
“Play nice music for plants. Be confident. Get to know your plants better. Don’t worry too much about them. Relax! Read and learn as much as you can. Plants are very understanding.” Listening to the space-age sounds of Plantasia, there’s nothing to do but relax.
For this blog the Archive of Recorded Sound invited one of our student workers to write about an item in the archive. Read on and find out about the soothing sounds of Plantasia as written by guest blogger and student worker extraordinaire Jonah. -Nathan Coy
This summer I received in the mail a brand new re-issue of Mort Garson’s Plantasia on glossy green vinyl. The album of Moog music for plants has become a cult favorite since its release in 1976, so I and many other fans were overjoyed when the reissue was announced. The new pressing was especially well received because of the difficulty of finding a copy of the original release: back in the 70s, the record was only distributed along with purchases at Mother Earth Plant Boutique in Los Angeles or, oddly enough, with Simmons mattresses from Sears. So if I was excited when my reissue arrived, I was over the moon when, while shelving LPs in the Archive of Recorded Sound, I came across an original copy of Plantasia.
Plantasia sits towards the back of the Archive, the lone LP from Homewood Records. The cover art places it firmly in the 70s, with avocado green text and a harvest gold starburst surrounding a drawing of people embracing a houseplant. The jacket also sports a sticker listing the addresses of all the southern California Simmons stores - the donor of this record must have bought a mattress around 1976.
Inside the sleeve is the LP itself, with songs like “Concerto for Philodendron & Pothos” and “A Mellow Mood for a Maidenhair” that promise to help your plants grow. Even better are the liner notes - a booklet of the sweetest doodles and detailed plant care tips from the proprietors of the Mother Earth store. The tips end with advice for listeners whose plants look sad: “Play nice music for plants. Be confident. Get to know your plants better. Don’t worry too much about them. Relax! Read and learn as much as you can. Plants are very understanding.” Listening to the space-age sounds of Plantasia, there’s nothing to do but relax.
This is one of the many special finds in the Archive of Recorded Sound, where we maintain and care for recordings as rare as this one or unique recordings with only one known copy in existence. I’m a sociology student, not a music major, but I find there’s a wonderful kind of sociology in the paths that each artifact took to make it into the building. Plantasia is one of many unusual records in the Archive’s collection. But it’s certainly the only album of “warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them.”