(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘popular music

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”*…

 

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I would like to begin this talk on the future of “popular” music with a few cautionary notes about our ability to see into the future clearly. The fact is, it would appear we are not very good at it. Somewhere back in our Savannah DNA, we got very good at reacting to danger when it presented itself — say a lion or tiger. However, it seems we are less capable of looking ahead to avoid danger. In other words, we are a reactive rather than proactive animal. The contemporary analogy in relation to climate change is that we are similar to the frog in a pot of hot water who does not have the sensors to recognize the increasing temperature and the fact that he should get out of the boiling pot.

Yes, there have been a handful of futurists – H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley, and given the state of many current governments I would grudgingly include Ayn Rand. Probably the most successful futurists in our lifetime may have been Marshall McLuhan and Stanley Kubrick, but even so, all of these writers and film makers have been only partially successful gazing into the crystal ball. Given that the past is no more fixed than the future I begin this conversation with you.

What I hope to discuss in this time with you is the relationship between technology, the gift of music and the commodification of that gift and how that gift and the commodification of the gift has been eroded in the digital age, and as I see it, could continue to be eroded well into the 21st century…

A provocative talk by Ian Tamblyn, a pillar of the Canadian music world, on popular music and its uncertain future: “A brief history of why artists are no longer making a living making music.”

TotH to friend CE.  Image above: source.

* Hunter S. Thompson

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As we pay the piper, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married in the British Consul’s office in Gibraltar.  “We wanted to get married on a cross-channel ferry – that was the romantic part,” Lennon said in the Beatles Anthology documentary.  “We went to Southampton and then we couldn’t get on because she wasn’t English, and she couldn’t get the day visa to go across. They said, ‘Anyway, you can’t get married. The Captain’s not allowed to do it any more.'”

John and Yoko source

 

Written by LW

March 20, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Take a sad song and make it better”*…

 

A rehearsal of the musical <i>Hair</i> at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, September 1968

A rehearsal of Hair.  Premiered in late 1967; photo taken, 1968

 

Certain years acquire an almost numinous quality in collective memory—1789, 1861, 1914. One of the more recent additions to the list is 1968. Its fiftieth anniversary has brought a flood of attempts to recapture it—local, national, and transnational histories, anthologies, memoirs, even performance art and musical theater. Immersion in this literature soon produces a feeling of déjà vu, particularly if one was politically conscious at the time (as I was).

Up to a point, repetition is inevitable. Certain public figures and events are inescapable: the tormented Lyndon Johnson, enmeshed in an unpopular, unwinnable war and choosing to withdraw from the presidential stage; the antiwar candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy; the intensifying moral challenges posed by Martin Luther King; the assassinations of King and Kennedy; the racially charged violence in most major cities; the police riot against antiwar protesters (and anyone else who got in their way) at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; the emergence of right-wing candidates—George Wallace, Richard Nixon—appealing to a “silent majority” whose silence was somehow construed as civic virtue. And the anticlimactic election: the narrow defeat of Hubert Humphrey by Nixon, who promised to “bring us together” without specifying how.

What togetherness turned out to mean was an excruciating prolongation of the war in Vietnam, accompanied by an accelerating animosity toward dissent. The effort to satisfy the silent majority by exorcising the demons of 1968 would eventually lead to the resurgence of an interventionist military policy, the dismantling of what passed for a welfare state, and the prosecution of a “war on drugs” that would imprison more Americans than had ever been behind bars before.

Revisiting this story is important and necessary. But difficulties arise when one tries to identify who those demons actually were…

Rutgers professor Jackson Lear considers several attempts to distill the lessons of the late 60s: “Aquarius Rising.”

Special bonus: film critic J. Hoberman on why, in 1968, an especially rich year for cinema, Night of the Living Dead was his pick for best movie.

* The Beatles, “Hey Jude”

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As we Let The Sunshine In, we might recall that on this date in 1968, our post’s title source, “Hey Jude,” sat at #2 on the pop chart– just ahead of “1,2,3, Redlight” by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. at #3 and The Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free” at #4… and just behind that week’s #1, “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley.

jeannie-c-riley-harper-valley-pta-1968-a source

 

Written by LW

September 14, 2018 at 1:01 am

“In many ways, classic rock became bigger than mainstream rock”*…

 

Led Zeppelin is classic rock. So are Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne. But what about U2 or Nirvana? As a child of the 1990s, I never doubted that any of these bands were classic rock, even though it may be shocking for many to hear. And then I heard Green Day’s “American Idiot” on a classic rock station a few weeks ago, and I was shocked.

It was my first time hearing a band I grew up with referred to as “classic rock.” Almost anyone who listens to music over a long enough period of time probably experiences this moment — my colleagues related some of their own, like hearing R.E.M. or Guns N’ Roses on a classic rock station — but it made me wonder, what precisely is classic rock?…

Follow FiveThirtyEight’s deep– and diverting– dive into the data at “Why Classic Rock Isn’t What It Used To Be.”

 

* Chuck D

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As we roll around in our roots, we might spare a thought for another variety of classic:  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.

email readers click here for video

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Written by LW

October 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

Mission Statement for (Roughly) Daily…

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My work explores the relationship between new class identities and midlife subcultures.

With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Francis Bacon, new combinations are generated from both explicit and implicit layers.

Ever since I was a student I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of relationships. What starts out as triumph soon becomes corroded into a hegemony of power, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the chance of a new beginning.

As temporal phenomena become clarified through emergent and personal practice, the reader is left with a statement of the edges of our era.

Readers can create their own statements– for use in funding applications, exhibitions, curriculum vitae, websites, and the like– at Arty Bollocks Generator (an entry on the 10K Apart Challenge— in which developers built apps like this one in less than 10 kilobytes).

As we plan our next retreats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1978 that UNICEF named the rock group Kansas “Deputy Ambassadors of Goodwill.”  (Music historians have mused that, had the band operated with the benefit of a compelling artistic mission statement, they might well have joined the likes of Summer Sanders and Tami Erin as full Ambassadors.)

“Carry On Wayward Son” (source)

 

 

The Culture of Commerce, Advertising and Marketing Edition…

In an infographic!

click the image above, or here, to enlarge

More of creator George Ellis’ work on his website, The George Report. [TotH to Mediabistro]

As we insist that the bartender reach for the top shelf, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that the Beatles’ stranglehold on the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 was broken.  From the leap of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to #1 in early February, the Fab Four held the pinnacle for three and a half solid months– longer than any popular artist before or since.  Over the course of those months, the they scored three consecutive #1 singles (also a record); held all five spots in the top five in early April (another record); and had a total of 14 songs in the Hot 100 in mid-April (yet another record).   But on this date in 1964, they were pushed off the peak by an unlikely challenger: 63-year-old Louis Armstrong and “Hello, Dolly!”

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Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music…

… and not just any old way you choose it, but selected and explicated by that master of American music– both classical and popular– Leonard Bernstein:

Inside Pop – The Rock Revolution is a CBS News special, broadcast in April 1967. The show was hosted by Leonard Bernstein and is probably one of the first examples of pop music being examined as a “serious” art form. The film features many scenes shot in Los Angeles in late 1966, including interviews with Frank Zappa and Graham Nash, as well as the now-legendary Brian Wilson solo performance of “Surf’s Up.”

As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that Paul Morphy, an American chess prodigy who became the world’s leading  grandmaster, just returned from a competitive tour of Europe, gave up the game.  Morphy was so dominant that he’d taken to spotting his opponents– other masters and grand masters– a pawn and a move, or playing blindfolded… or both.  After reviewing his games, Bobby Fischer considered Morphy so talented as to be “able to beat any player of any era if given time to study modern theory and ideas.”  And Marcel Duchamp, who abandoned art to become a chess expert, found inspiration in Morphy’s open style and opportunistic strategy in crafting his theory of the endgame…  which means that Morphy was indirectly a contributor to Duchamp’s friends and collaborators Samuel Beckett (whose Endgame is rooted in Duchamp’s thinking) and John Cage (with whom, in 1968, Duchamp played at a concert entitled “Reunion;” music was produced by a series of photoelectric cells underneath the chessboard).

Morphy’s retirement from chess (an amateur’s game in those days) came the day after he was hailed by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes as “the World Chess Champion” at a banquet in Morphy’s honor attended by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louis Agassiz, Boston mayor Frederic W. Lincoln, Jr., Harvard president James Walker, and other luminaries.  Morphy attempted then to start a law practice, but was side-tracked by the outbreak of the Civil War.  Still, with the resources of a family fortune, he lived comfortably in New Orleans until his death in 1884 in the ancestral mansion– the site today of Brennan’s Restaurant (at which, your correspondent suspects, several readers have breakfasted).

Morphy at the board (source)

I Hear America Singing…

 

Even Walt Whitman might have quibbled (“what about Tom Petty for Florida?”, he might have asked…  ZZ Top for Texas?); still, it’s cool to be reminded that every corner of the Union is tuneful…

click (and again) on the image above– or here— to enlarge

(from The Houston Press, via Breakfast Links)

 

As we crank it up to 11, we might recall that it was on this date in 2006 that “The Wail from Wales” (aka “The Voice” and “Tiger”) became Sir Tom Jones.  His benefactress, Queen Elizabeth II, was a 38-year-old mother of four when Jones burst onto the scene in 1965.

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