Posts Tagged ‘music’
What people really think…
Many, many more at Honest Slogans.
* Mark Twain
As we appreciate the eternal relevance of “caveat emptor,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that Brian Epstein, a lapsed actor who’d studied at RADA with Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, and Susannah York, but returned to Liverpool to run his family’s record store, visited the Cavern Club… where he first heard The Beatles. Smitten, he signed the group to a management contract, shepherded the group through a series of unsuccessful record company pitches before convincing George Martin of EMI to sign them, and oversaw their meteoric rise until his death in 1967. As Paul McCartney observed, ”If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.”
Follow the journeys that various music genres took as one style developed into another: “How Music Travels – The Evolution of Western Dance Music.”
As we celebrate the interconnection of influence, we might send tightly-woven birthday greetings to Johannes Eugenius Bülow “Eugen” Warming; he was born on this date in 1841. A globe-trotting botanist, he wrote the first textbook (1895) on plant ecology, taught the first university course in ecology, and gave the concept its meaning and content. So, though the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, (the retrospectively-poignantly named) Warming can be considered the father of Ecology as a discipline.
In 1963, a Portland high school band called the Kingsmen covered the song “Louie Louie,” originally recorded by Richard Berry eight years earlier. Their version has become a classic– though almost no one has any idea what the actual words are. (Hear it here.) As it happened, the band had a one-hour recording session in which to lay down both the A and B sides of their first record. To simulate a live performance, singer Jack Ely was forced to lean back and sing into a microphone suspended from the ceiling. “It was more yelling than singing,” Ely said, “’cause I was trying to be heard over all the instruments.” It didn’t help that he was wearing braces at the time of the performance, further aggravating his infamously slurred words. Still, the raw recording worked– it sold over 1 million copies, going gold.
It probably helped that Indiana Governor Matthew E. Welsh, assuming that obscurity meant obscenity, banned the song. Soon after, an angry parent wrote to then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, insisting that the lyrics were dirty. Kennedy put FBI on the case; but the crime lab concluded, after four months of investigation, that the the recording could not be interpreted, that it was “unintelligible at any speed.” The lyrics are in fact innocent; but the FBI missed something: at about 0:53 into the song– audibly, but not obviously– Lynn Easton, the band’s drummer, drops a drumstick… and drops the f-bomb. (Hear it here.)
As we mind our manners, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that AC/DC earned their first Top 40 hit with “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The maiden voyage of Brian Johnson (who’d replaced the band’s original lead singer Bon Scott after Scott’s untimely the prior year), it was the lead single on Back in Black, an album that has sold over 20 million copies.
As our friends at Rap Genius observe,
Rap’s history has been traced many ways — through books, documentaries, official compilations, DJ mixes, university archives, even parties. But until now you haven’t been able to look at the development of the genre through its building blocks: the actual words used by emcees.
Like Google’s Ngram viewer (only with a more pronounced beat), RG’s Rap Stats lets users plot the frequency of words appearing in rap songs from 1988 through the present day; one can, as they suggest “figure out the migratory patterns of drug dealers, when hip-hop became big business, and whether money really is over bitches”… and a host of other fascinating things. For example,
The word first pops up in 1993-4. This makes sense, as DJ Jubilee’s “Do The Jubilee All,” generally acknowledged as the first recorded rap use of the term, was released in ’93. Jubilee was a bounce artist, and one of the many great things about early bounce music was that it functioned as a conversation between the artists. It wasn’t too long before Jubilee’s call to “Twerk, baby” was answered by Cheeky Blakk’s 1995 classic “Twerk Something!”, and a slew of other N.O. artists followed her lead.
The word lived quietly as a regional trend, losing steam in the late 90s, until pop culture finally discovered the dance, and, as we all know now, launched “twerk” into a Miley-fueled rocket ship ride, with no end in sight.
(Of course, Will Smith fans might have said the same thing about “jiggy” in 1998, and we can see how that turned out…)
One can develop one’s own rap on rap at Rap Stats.
As we bust a rhyme, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington recorded his first big hit, “Mood Indigo.” Ellington was fond of saying, “Well, I wrote that in 15 minutes while I was waiting for my mother to finish cooking dinner.” With lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1931 (but credited to Ellington’s manager Irving Mills), “Mood Indigo” became a vocal as well as an instrumental standard, recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone among many, many others.
Ability to draw easily and well on the blackboard is a power which every teacher of children covets. Such drawing is a language which never fails to hold attention and awaken delighted interest.
From Blackboard Sketching (1908), a book by Massachusetts based artist and teacher Frederik Whitney (1858-1949) on the lost art of blackboard drawing.
Via the fabulous Public Domain Review, which is currently also featuring such glorious arcana as what is probably the first animated film, produced by Emil Cohl, considered the “father of animation” also in 1908 (readers may recall Cohl’s influence, as seen in “Meet the Beetles“)…
And also a series of animated GIFs like the one below excerpted by Okkult Motion Pictures from Max Fleischer’s Bubbles, part of his “Out of the Inkwell” series, which also includes The Tantalizing Fly.
Many more treasures at Public Domain Review.
As we pay retrospective respect, we might improvise some birthday greetings for Thelonious Sphere Monk; he was born on this date in 1917. A jazz pianist and composer, Monk contributed an incisively-improvisational style and a number of beloved compositions to the jazz canon (e.g., “Round Midnight,” Straight, No Chaser”). Indeed, Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer (after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70). Monk is one of five jazz musicians (so far) to have been featured on the cover of Time (after Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Duke Ellington, and before Wynton Marsalis).
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”