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Posts Tagged ‘pop music

“I find it hard to focus looking forward. So I look backward.”*…

In 1995, “the Godfather of Punk,” Iggy Pop published a review in the scholarly journal Classics Ireland

In 1982, horrified by the meanness, tedium and depravity of my existence as I toured the American South playing rock and roll music and going crazy in public, I purchased an abridged copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Dero Saunders, Penguin). The grandeur of the subject appealed to me, as did the cameo illustration of Edward Gibbon, the author, on the front cover. He looked like a heavy dude. Being in a political business, I had long made a habit of reading biographies of wilful characters — Hitler, Churchill, MacArthur, Brando — with large profiles, and I also enjoyed books on war and political intrigue, as I could relate the action to my own situation in the music business, which is not about music at all, but is a kind of religion-rental.

I would read with pleasure around 4 am, with my drugs and whisky in cheap motels, savouring the clash of beliefs, personalities and values, played out on antiquity’s stage by crowds of the vulgar, led by huge archetypal characters. And that was the end of that. Or so I thought.

Eleven years later I stood in a dilapidated but elegant room in a rotting mansion in New Orleans, and listened as a piece of music strange to my ears pulled me back to ancient Rome and called forth those ghosts to merge in hilarious, bilious pretense with the Schwartzkopfs, Schwartzeneggers and Sheratons of modern American money and muscle myth. Out of me poured information I had no idea I ever knew, let alone retained, in an extemporaneous soliloquy I called ‘Caesar’.

When I listened back, it made me laugh my ass off because it was so true. America is Rome. Of course, why shouldn’t it be? All of Western life and institutions today are traceable to the Romans and their world. We are all Roman children for better or worse. The best part of this experience came after the fact — my wife gave me a beautiful edition in three volumes of the magnificent original unabridged Decline and Fall, and since then the pleasure and profit have been all mine as I enjoy the wonderful language, organization and scope of this masterwork.

Here are just some of the ways I benefit:

1 I feel a great comfort and relief knowing that there were others who lived and died and thought and fought so long ago; I feel less tyrannized by the present day.

2 I learn much about the way our society really works, because the system-origins — military, religious, political, colonial, agricultural, financial — are all there to be scrutinized in their infancy. I have gained perspective.

3 The language in which the book is written is rich and complete, as the language of today is not.

4 I find out how little I know.

5 I am inspired by the will and erudition which enabled Gibbon to complete a work of twenty-odd years. The guy stuck with things. I urge anyone who wants life on earth to really come alive for them to enjoy the beautiful ancestral ancient world…

Iggy in roughly that period

Iggy Pop on the relevance of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall in particular, and of history in general: “Caesar Lives.” (Free JSTOR registration may be required.)

* Iggy Pop

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As we note, with Faulkner, that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past,” we might recall that on the pop music charts on this date in 1967, The Monkees continued into the New Year at #1 with “I’m A Believer.” “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen was second, with Aaron Neville making a push for the top with “Tell It Like It Is”.  Former #1 “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band grabbed the #4 spot, followed by Nancy Sinatra (“Sugar Town”), and Dad Frank (“That’s Life”). The rest of the Top 10:  Boise, Idaho’s Paul Revere & the Raiders with “Good Thing”, the Mamas and the Papas climbed from 19 (to #8) with “Words Of Love”, the Four Tops nearly matched that with “Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” while Donovan took a turn downward with “Mellow Yellow.” On the album chart, The Monkees made it nine weeks on top with their eponymously-titled first release.

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“A Room of One’s Own”*…

Interiors of real living and working spaces from an unusual perspective. It seems as if someone has lifted the ceiling and replaced it with a scanner. In fact, the photographs consist of up to a hundred individual shots taken with a remote control and then digitally assembled. One associates doll’s houses and at the same time thinks of surveillance…

Menno Aden‘s photos evoke the spirit of our “Surveillance Capitalist” age: “Room Portraits.”

* An extended essay by Virginia Wolff

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As we duck and cover, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Rosemary Clooney hit the top of the U.S. pop chart with “This Ole House,” which soon topped the British chart as well. Written earlier that year by Stuart Hamblen, it was a #1 hit again in the U.K. in 1981 for Shakin’ Stevens.

“If you had a sign above every studio door saying ‘This Studio is a Musical Instrument’ it would make such a different approach to recording”*…

 

Sun-Studios-web-optimised-740

At 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, you’ll find a reconstruction of the legendary Sun Records studio (home to Howlin’ Wolf, BB King Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, anog others) complete with a recording studio where the likes of U2 and John Mellencamp have recorded. Photo: Paul McGuinness

 

When The Beatles were photographed in August 1969, striding over a zebra crossing in St John’s Wood, London, for the cover shot of their album Abbey Road  they were celebrating a building that had played an essential part in helping them take the music world by storm – and, in the process, turned Abbey Road into one of the most famous recording studios in the world.

The names of iconic recording studios – Sun, Muscle Shoals, Motown, Electric Lady, Trident, Sunset – have become almost as famous as the musicians who have created masterpieces at these venues.

Important recording studios are more than just bricks, mortar and audio equipment to musicians. The Rolling Stones named a song in honour of the Chess Records Studio and Sonic Youth acknowledged New York’s Echo Canyon Studios by naming their 12th studio album, Murray Street, in tribute to a site that had played a key role in their success…

A history of the recording and a celebration of some of music’s storied studios: “Sound Matters: A History Of Legendary Recording Studios.”

* Brian Eno

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As we hum along, we might recall that this date in 1963 was the “official” release date of Introducing… The Beatles, the Fab Four’s first U.S. album.  But confusion at Vee-Jay, the album’s label, delayed the actual release until January 10 of the following year…  one week before Capitol’s Meet the Beatles!.  The latter album, however, entered the U.S. album chart one week before the former. And so, while Meet The Beatles! peaked at No. 1 for eleven consecutive weeks, Introducing…The Beatles stalled at No. 2 where it remained nine consecutive weeks.

Coincidentally, it was on this same day (July 22, 1963) that The Beatles began their first U.K. tour (with Gerry and the Pacemakers) at the Odeon Cinema in Weston-Super-Mare.

introducing_the_beatles source

 

Written by LW

July 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present”*…

 

The 13 most popular Christmas songs on Spotify, a music-streaming service, have amassed 1bn plays between them. The most popular of them, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, written in 15 minutes and recorded by Mariah Carey in 1994, accounts for 210m of those plays. It has earned over $60m in royalties since its release.

Despite its ubiquity during December, the appeal of festive music varies significantly by geography. Spotify provided The Economist with data for Christmas listening across 35 countries, and for every American state, on a day-by-day basis for the two months leading up to Christmas Day 2016. The data demonstrate that music lovers in Sweden and Norway listen to festive tunes most frequently. One in every six songs they streamed on Spotify during December last year received this classification (the list includes some 1,500 Christmas songs performed in English and local languages). By contrast, during the same period in Brazil—a country with a comparable proportion of Christians—just one song in 150 was Christmas-themed. Listening habits in American states also vary, though to a smaller degree: in New Hampshire Christmas songs accounted for one in nine streams, whereas in Nevada, the state where such tunes are least common, it was one in 20…

Why?  Find out at “The music industry should be dreaming of a white Christmas.”

* Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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As we deck the halls, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that 55-year-old German accordionist Will Glahé outsold many established Rock And Roll artists when his “Liechtensteiner Polka” reaches #19 on the Billboard Pop chart. Glahé’s first success in America had come in June, 1939 when his rendition of “Beer Barrel Polka” hit the top of the US Hit Parade, selling over a million copies. (Your correspondent has no explanatory link for this one…)

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Written by LW

December 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

“A copy is a meta-original”*…

 

History tells us that Walter Benjamin, the influential German critic of literature, art, and culture, died more than seventy years ago. So how is it that he’s now out doing lectures and has published a new book?

The fascinating tale in its entirety at “An Investigation Into the Reappearance of Walter Benjamin.”

Conceived by an anthropologist of art and culture as a collection of recent texts by Walter Benjamin written between 1986 and the present, this book includes interviews by Beti Zerovc, Maxine Kopsa and Milo Rau as well as lectures including “Lenin and Coca-Cola,” “The Unmaking of Art” and “The Making of Americans.”

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[TotH to Tyler Hellard’s Pop Loser]

* Walter Benjamin

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As we celebrate simulacra, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that “Sugar, Sugar” hit the top of the U.S. pop charts.  Written by Jeff Berry and Andy Kim as one of 16 musical segments performed by “The Archies” (a group of studio musicians) in the CBS “The Archie Comedy Hour,” the tune went on to become the number-one single of the year.

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Written by LW

September 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

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