Posts Tagged ‘music’
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.
The story of Paramount Records is a fascinating one—the beginning is set about 100 years ago, in a Wisconsin furniture company that began pressing records in hopes that’d help them sell record players, which in their early years were indeed whoppin’ big ol’ pieces of furniture. The middle sees that furniture company curating and releasing a jaw-dropping and still legendary catalogue of classic early jazz and Delta blues 78s by the likes of Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The end of the story sees the closing of the company and disgruntled employees flinging those now priceless shellac records into the Milwaukee River and melting down the metal masters for scrap. The whole story can be found in greater detail online, or in the books Paramount’s Rise and Fall and Do Not Sell At Any Price.
What concerns us here are the label’s print ads, which ran in The Chicago Defender. I’ve tried mightily to find the names of the artists who drew these. People in a better position to know than I assure me their identities are lost to the years, though they may have been staff illustrators at a Madison ad agency. The loss of that knowledge is a damned shame, because without knowing it, those artists altered the history of underground comix, by serving as an acknowledged influence on that form’s grand pooh-bah, Robert Crumb. Even a superficial glance at some of these ads reveals a precursor to Crumb’s famous signature style (it’s strikingly evident in the slouching posture of some of these characters), and Crumb paid direct homage to these artists in a series of trading card sets that have been compiled into the book R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country—the comix artist’s abiding passion for the music of the early recording era has never been a secret…
Appropriately, this slideshow of Crumb’s blues-inspired works is set to a Paramount record, Charley Patton’s “Down the Dirt Road Blues”:
More of the Paramount story– and more examples of the extraordinary ads– at “The Amazing Old Paramount Records Ads that Inspired R. Crumb.”
[TotH to friend Ted Nelson]
* Michael Ventura, in the wonderful essay “Hear That Long Snake Moan”
As we re-track our lives to twelve-bar blues, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Richard Wayne Penniman– better known as Little Richard– entered the U.S. pop charts for the first time with “Tutti Frutti,” a song he’d recorded four months earlier. As History.com reports,
“Tutti frutti, good booty…” was the way the version went that Little Richard was accustomed to performing in his club act, and from there it got into lyrical territory that would demand censorship even by today’s standards. It was during a lunch break from his first-ever recording session that Little Richard went to the piano and banged that filthy tune out for producer Bumps Blackwell, who was extremely unhappy with the results of the session so far. As Blackwell would later tell it, “He hits that piano, dididididididididi…and starts to sing, ‘Awop-bop-a-Loo-Mop a-good Goddam…’ and I said ‘Wow! That’s what I want from you Richard. That’s a hit!'” But first, the song’s racy lyrics had to be reworked for there to be any chance of the song being deemed acceptable by the conservative American audience of the 1950s.
An aspiring local songwriter by the name of Dorothy La Bostrie was quickly summoned to the Dew Drop Inn [in New Orleans] to come up with new lyrics for the un-recordable original, and by the time they all returned from lunch, the “Tutti frutti, all rooty” with which we are now familiar was written down alongside lyrics about two gals named Sue and Daisy. In the last 15 minutes of that historic recording session on September 14, 1955, “Tutti Frutti” was recorded, and Little Richard’s claim to have been present at the birth of rock and roll was secured.
… at YouAreListeningTo.
* Tennessee Williams
As we tune in, we might send forcefully-metered birthday greetings to Kenneth Patchen; he was born on this date in 1911. A poet and novelist who experimented with form (most notably, with incorporating jazz into his readings), Patchen was widely ignored by the cultural establishment in his lifetime; but (with his close friend Kenneth Rexroth) became an inspiration for the young poets– Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and others– who became known as the Beat Generation. In 1968, near the end of his life, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen was published– and Patchen was embraced by the Establishment. The New York TImes called the book “a remarkable volume,” comparing Patchen’s work to that of Blake, Whitman, Crane, Lawrence, and even to the Bible. In another review, the poet David Meltzer called Patchen “one of America’s great poet-prophets” and called his body of work “visionary art for our time and for Eternity.”
The lions of fire
Shall have their hunting in this black land
Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats
Their claws kill
O the lions of fire shall awake
And the valleys steam with their fury
Because you have turned your faces from God
Because you have spread your filth everywhere.
– from “The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting” The Teeth of the Lion (1942)