Posts Tagged ‘music’
The very first motion picture filmed underwater, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1916 silent film adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel of the same name, as well as incorporating elements from his The Mysterious Island. Directed by Stuart Paton, the underwater scenes were not actually filmed using underwater cameras but rather a system of watertight tubes and mirrors which allowed the camera to shoot reflected images of underwater scenes staged in shallow sunlit waters. Made by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company (now Universal Pictures), not then known as a major motion picture studio, it was incredibly expensive to produce and, according Hal Erickson [bio here], put “the kibosh on any subsequent Verne adaptations for the next 12 years”…
* Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
As we dive, dive, dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Peter, Paul, and Mary released their third single, “Puff, The Magic Dragon.” Their most successful release to date, it reached No. 2 on the US singles chart. (And in a poignant reminder of how unifying a cultural force pop radio was in those days, this softest of soft folk tunes also made the top 10 on the R&B charts.)
The music was written by Peter (Yarrow), to lyrics by a 19-year-old Cornell student, Leonard Lipton, a friend of Yarrow’s housemate at the time. Lipton, visiting when Yarrow was away, had typed the poem on Yarrow’s typewriter and left a copy behind by accident. Yarrow searched for Lipton in order to share the songwriting credit, and found him (serving as a camp counselor). Lipton, who went on to great success as a filmmaker and inventor of stereo-optic and 3D film techniques, still receives royalties on the song.
Beyond its appreciable success, the tune is noteworthy as the song that ushered in the age of veiled (or not so veiled) drug references in pop music… though Yarrow always insisted that it’s about the passage of time and the loss of childhood innocence. More at MusicFilmWeb… or readers can judge for themselves:
Back in 2001, Terry Gilliam, a respected director who’d begun his career creating the animated opens and bumpers for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, named his list of The 10 Best Animated Films of All Time. From Starewicz and Disney, through Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay, to Lasseter/Pixar and Parker/South Park, it’s a captivating collection.
Our friends at Open Culture have dressed the list, adding links where available… so now readers can click straight through to many of Gilliam’s picks: “The Best Animated Films of All Time, According to Terry Gilliam.”
* John Waters, Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters
As we celebrate cels, we might spare a thought for Hazel Inez Gilman George; she died on this date in 1996. George held down two key roles at The Walt Disney Company: she was the company’s (and Walt’s personal) nurse, and– as “Gil George”– the main collaborator and partner of Disney composer Paul Smith. Indeed, she co-wrote over 90 songs for Disney. Her work included songs for films like The Light in the Forest, Perri, Tonka, Westward Ho the Wagons, and Old Yeller. She was also a frequent contributor to the television shows including the original Disneyland show, Zorro, and the original Mickey Mouse Club.
Posters promoting the Masters and their masterpieces: From Sydney-based designer Nicholas Barclay, a ten classic works of art, reduced to their essences…
Peruse each of them (about half-way down the page), and check out his other distillations, on Barclay’s site .
* Albert Einstein
As we wonder what the docent will make of these, we might recall it it was on this date in 1979 that The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater on the first leg of their first American tour, “Pearl Harbor ’79.”
“The interesting question would be whether there’s a Darwinian process, a kind of selection process whereby some memes are more likely to spread than others, because people like them, because they’re popular, because they’re catchy or whatever it might be”*…
The Spice Girls released their first single, Wannabe, in 1996 but its legacy clearly lives on. Researchers at Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, and the University of Amsterdam named it the catchiest song of all time in a test of how quickly people can name a tune.
The researchers created an interactive site, Hooked on Music, to ask 12,000 people to listen to the 40 best-selling songs from each decade, beginning with the 1940s. People could identify Wannabe in 2.29 seconds, placing it at the top of the pile. Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley all have two songs in the top 20—though Billie Jean is only 15th, with some listeners taking 2.97 seconds to identify its iconic beat. (Who are these people?)…
See–and hear– the 10 catchiest songs at “Science: This is the catchiest song of all time.”
* Richard Dawkins
As we battle earwigs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1709 that Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was rescued after spending four years marooned on a desert island (Juan Fernandez, in the South Pacific, just over 400 miles off the coast of Chile). Selkirk’s sojourn in a meme-free zone inspired Daniel Dafoe to create Robinson Crusoe, and William Cowper to coin an immortal phrase in his poem “The Solitude Of Alexander Selkirk”:
I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
“Disco is from hell, okay? And not the cool part of hell with all the murderers, but the lame ass part where the really bad accountants live”*…
A 1976 recording of the theme from M*A*S*H, about the 1977 release of which, Tom Mouton of Billboard wrote:
The strongest [of three recent singles from FARR Records] is ‘Song From M*A*S*H’ by the New Marketts. Here is a beautiful and well-orchestrated melody featuring guitar and synthesizer playing the melody line and pleasing synthesizer solo in the vamp. The record was produced by Joe Saraceno…
Interesting fact: The lyrics of the song were written by Mike Altman, the son of Robert Altman, director of the original movie. Appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in the 1980s, Altman reported that his son had earned more than a million dollars for his part in writing the song… while Altman himself made just $70,000 for directing the movie.
* “Hyde,” That 70s Show
As we take something for the fever, we might send repetitive birthday greetings to Philip Glass; he was born on this date in 1937. A composer who describes himself as a “Classicist,”” he is considered by most to be (with the likes of Steve Reich) one of the “Major Minimalists”– and one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. He has written works for the musical group which he founded, the Philip Glass Ensemble (with which he still performs on keyboards), as well as operas, musical theatre works, solo works, chamber music (including string quartets and instrumental sonatas), film scores, ten symphonies, and eleven concertos. Three of those film scores (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) have been nominated for Academy Awards; his score for The Truman Show won a Golden Globe. He is the second cousin of This American Life‘s Ira Glass.
Readers may recall our recent visit to The Internet Arcade, an online repository of payable versions of old arcade games. Now, also from Internet Archive, an incredible collection of vintage MS-DOS computer games. From Oregon Trail (from which, many readers will have known, the above image comes) to Prince of Persia, there are 2,400 of them available to play for free at Software Library: MS-DOS Games.
As we relearn the arrow keys, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that the Beatles entered the U.S. pop charts for the first time, when “I Want to Hold Your Hand” debuted at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100; it went to #1 the following week. The single had already ascended to the pinnacle of the British charts: indeed, with advance orders exceeding one million copies in the U.K., “I Want to Hold Your Hand” would ordinarily have hit the top of the British record charts on its day of release (November 29, 1963), but it was blocked for two weeks by the group’s first million-seller, “She Loves You.” The release order was reversed in the U.S.; “I Want to Hold Your Hand” held the number one spot for seven weeks before being replaced by “She Loves You.” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” remained on the U.S. charts for a total of fifteen weeks, and remains the Beatles’ best-selling single worldwide.