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Beethoven’s Ode to Joy has been harnessed for good and ill
october 14, 2019 | FT.com | by Helen Brown.
Ode to Joy is the EU's anthem, music that was written by Beethoven. But “Ode to Joy” was composed with the dream of European peace and unity very much at its heart.

“Ode to Joy” appears like a burst of sunlight in the fourth and final movement of Beethoven’s stormy Ninth (and final) Symphony. The composer’s decision to bring a choir into the piece was revolutionary, giving soaring voice to a poem that had thrilled Beethoven as a young man: Freidrich Schiller’s “An die Freude”. Written in 1785 — on the brink of the French Revolution — the popular poem expressed a yearning for peace and egalitarianism: “All men will become brothers … Be embraced, you millions!”

As soon as he heard Schiller’s words, the young Beethoven imagined setting them to music. Like many liberal, cosmopolitan youths of the time, the German composer was excited by the ideals of the French Revolution and dedicated his Third Symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte before scratching out the name.
Beethoven  choirs  composers  EU  music  Napoleon_Bonaparte  poems  songs  symphonies 
october 2019 by jerryking
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — why Otis Redding’s biggest hit wasn’t actually a soul song
October 6, 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

“This is my first million seller,” announced Otis Redding to nervous-looking studio bosses in early December 1967. He was referring to his upcoming record, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, which would indeed prove to be his first seven-figure release, eventually selling several times that amount. It would also be the last song he ever worked on. Two days after his second recording session on this breezy new ballad, he was dead — killed in a light-aircraft crash.

Executives at Atlantic Records cynically requested that a new song be released immediately. Redding’s collaborator and studio guitarist, and the song’s co-writer, Steve Cropper, was forced to set aside his grief and transform the rough cuts of “The Dock of the Bay” into a coherent track in just 24 hours. The result was an unassuming yet near-perfect composition that would serve as a fitting legacy for one of soul’s greatest talents.

But “The Dock of the Bay” wasn’t really a soul song in the conventional sense. In the summer of 1967, Redding immersed himself in The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and was inspired by the band’s devotion to stress-testing the limits of popular music. “It’s time for me to change my music,” said Redding, as his wife and employers voiced concerns about his “poppy” new direction which took him away from his roots in soul and R&B.

That autumn Redding was recovering after a punishing touring schedule on a houseboat in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, owned by promoter Bill Graham. It was there, idly watching the ferries sail to-and-from the harbour, that he conceived of that scene-setting first verse and the basic chords for “The Dock of the Bay”. Back in the studio, he asked Cropper to flesh out the melody and the brilliant, bittersweet lyrics.
'60s  1967  Beatles  music  Otis_Redding  pop_music  R&B  singers  songs  soul  Stax  tributes 
october 2019 by jerryking
Smalltown Boy — Bronski Beat’s 1984 hit was a heartfelt cry for liberation
September 29, 2019 | FT.com | Paul Gould.

Rejection and heartbreak are recurring staples of pop music, but every now and then a song turns the stuff of sadness into an irresistible dancefloor filler. One such song, mining an upbeat theme of liberation from a downbeat tale of homophobia, is Bronski Beat’s 1984 hit “Smalltown Boy”.
'80s  music  songs 
october 2019 by jerryking
Woman in Love - YouTube
Radio Demerara and GBS while growing up. Attending St. Margaret's and BHS.
'70s  nostalgia  music  songs 
june 2019 by jerryking
Everybody Wants to Rule the World — Tears for Fears’ 1985 hit was the subject of a radical re-reading — FT.com
Ravi Ghosh APRIL 8, 2019

Tears for Fears’ 1985 hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was a breakthrough for the English band, a worldwide success that topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and spent six weeks in the UK’s top five. Taken from their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair, it epitomised the maturation of founding members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith from relative low-liers in the mod revival band Graduate, to a globe-conquering synth-pop outfit. Thanks to a bigger, reverb-heavy sound which resonated worldwide, Songs from the Big Chair sold five million copies in the US alone.

They also became part of the “second British invasion” of the US — a new wave of acts who, thanks largely to MTV coverage, found favour among American audiences with their synth-based sounds and glossy videos. The invasion was spearheaded in 1981 by The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, with bands such as Duran Duran following in their wake and Tears for Fears joining the party in the mid-1980s.

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” emerged when singer and songwriter Roland Orzabal was in the studio sessions towards the end of recording Songs from the Big Chair and came up with a two-chord riff; the rest of the song, he later said, was “effortless”, though it did undergo some changes.
'80s  music  second_British_invasion  songs 
may 2019 by jerryking
How Spotify’s algorithms are ruining music
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | Michael Hann.

(1) FINAL DAYS OF EMI, By Eamonn Forde, Omnibus, RRP£20, 320 pages
(2) SPOTIFY TEARDOWN, By Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 288 pages
(3) WAYS OF HEARING, By Damon Krukowski, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 136 pages

In April, the IFPI — the global body of the recording industry — released its latest annual Global Music Report. For the fourth consecutive year, revenues were up, to a total of $19.1bn, from a low of $14.3bn in 2014. Nearly half those revenues came from music streaming, driven by a 33 per cent rise in paid subscriptions to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal...... It is worth remembering that 20 years ago, the IFPI reported global music revenues of $38.6bn. Today’s “booming” recording industry is less than half the size it was at the turn of the century.....The nadir for the recording industry coincided with the first shoots of its regrowth. ....In August 2007, the British record company EMI — the fourth of the majors, alongside Universal, Sony and Warner — was bought by private equity firm Terra Firma (Guy Hands, the fund’s founder and chairman) for $4.7bn; a year later, a Swedish company called Spotify took its music streaming service public. The former was, perhaps, the last gasp of the old way of doing things — less than four years after buying EMI, Terra Firma was unable to meet its debts, and ceded control of the company to its main lender, Citigroup. Before 2011 was out, the process of breaking up EMI had begun...EMI’s demise was foreshadowed before Hands arrived, with a blaze of hubris in the early 2000s. Forde, a longtime observer and chronicler of the music business recounts the “disastrous and expensive” signings of that era......Handspreached the need to use data when signing artists, not just the “golden ears” of talent scouts; data are now a key part of the talent-spotting process.

* to qualify as having been listened to on Spotify, a song has to have been played for 30 seconds.
* hit songs have become increasingly predictable, offering up all their pleasures in the opening half-minute. Their makers dare not risk scaring off listeners.
* for all the money that the streaming services have generated for the music industry, very little of it flows back to any musicians except the select few who dominate the streaming statistics,

.......On Spotify, music consumption has been reorganised around “behaviours, feelings and moods” channelled through curated playlists and motivational messages......The data Spotify collects enable the industry to work out who its market is, where it lives, what else they like, how often they listen to music — almost anything, really. It’s the greatest assemblage of information about music listeners in history, and it has profoundly altered the industry: it has made Spotify music’s kingmaker......when an artist travels abroad to promote a new album, the meeting with the local Spotify office is more important than the TV appearances or the newspaper interviews. ...Spotify enables artists to plan their band’s set lists so they can play the most popular song in any given city.............So what? What does it matter if one model of music distribution has been replaced by another.....It matters because Spotify has profoundly changed the listener’s relationship with music....Older musicians often wax about how, when you had to buy your own music as a kid, you listened to it until you liked it, because you wouldn’t be able to afford a new album for another month. Now you simply skip to the next one, and probably don’t give it your full attention. Without ownership, there’s no incentive to study...........Faced with the impossibly wide choice of Spotify, it becomes easier to return to old favourites — easier than when flicking through your vinyl or CDs, because the act of looking through your own music makes things you had not thought of in years leap out at you. Spotify actually makes people into more conservative listeners, a process aided by its algorithms, which steer you towards music similar to your most frequent listening.....The theme of Krukowski’s book is that the changes in the way the music industry works have been about controlling and eliminating excess noise. That’s in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one, too. Streaming has stripped music of context, pared it back to being just about the song and the moment....but noise is the context of life. Without noise, the signal becomes meaningless......The world of the old EMI was one of both signal and noise; where myths and legends could be created: The Beatles! Queen! The Beach Boys! Pink Floyd! It was never all about the signal. The world of Spotify is one of signal only, and if you don’t appreciate that signal within the first 30 seconds of the song...all may be lost
abundance  algorithms  Apple_Music  books  book_reviews  business_models  curation  cultural_transmission  data  decontextualization  EMI  gatekeepers  Guy_Hands  hits  indoctrination  iTunes  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_industry  music_publishing  noise  piracy  platforms  playlists  royalties  ruination  securitization  signals  songs  Spotify  streaming  subscriptions  talent  talent_scouting  talent_spotting  Terra_Firma  Tidal  transformational 
may 2019 by jerryking
While My Guitar Gently Weeps — George Harrison’s song began life as a folksy ballad
April 21 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

The track became one of The Beatles’ finest moments — thanks to Eric Clapton’s uncredited guitar playing..........For most, the song is unmistakably Harrison’s personal triumph; “Only a guitar player could write that,” Mick Jagger noted. Luckily, Harrison remembered that was what he was when he wrote the song: “While My Sitar Gently Weeps” probably wouldn’t have been quite such a hit.
1968  beatles  guitarists  music  philosophy  songs  songwriters 
april 2019 by jerryking
Dean Ford, Singer on Marmalade’s ‘Reflections,’ Is Dead at 72 - The New York Times
By Neil Genzlinger
Jan. 4, 2019

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"Reflections of My Life".......The latter song – one of a number Ford co-wrote with his bandmate William ‘Junior’ Campbell – is a haunting, melodic, gorgeous, elegiac track, much of whose power came from Ford’s distinctive, hair-raising vocal tone and its electrifying blend of fearfulness and cautious optimism. When he sings “the world is a bad place, a bad place / a terrible place to live / but I don’t wanna die”, the listener might feel for a moment as though they really are experiencing a deathbed confessional. For many in the States, the song was evocative of the Vietnam era.
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'60s  obituaries  singers  songs 
january 2019 by jerryking
Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood on the art of the set list
NOVEMBER 23, 2018 | Michael Hann | Michael Hann.

The nature of the set list — the selection of songs an artist chooses to perform in concert — is problematic. What is it for? To satisfy the performer’s artistic urges? To promote their latest release? Is it simply to provide people who might have paid a great deal of money for a ticket with the most satisfying entertainment possible?

In a new book, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has collected the set lists he handwrites for the band’s rehearsals, and then for shows. At first it was just for fun, Wood tells me; he had always loved calligraphy. But soon his artworks began to serve a practical purpose. “The next thing I know, I come into rehearsals and they’re going round the walls,” he says, “and the rest of the boys are going, ‘Have we played “Fool to Cry?” ’ ‘Yeah, we played it on Tuesday.’ The boys are starting to use it as a reference, which is great, because when I started doing it, Mick [Jagger] used to come up to me and go, ‘Ronnie, stop writing that bloody list, and get on with the songs.’ ”

The resulting book, The Rolling Stones Set Lists, captures the huge range of songs the Stones will bring to life during one of their tours — about 80 for a show of 19 or 20 songs. It also gives the rest of us some clues as to the rules of writing the dream set list.
books  concerts  lists  live_performances  music  songs  rollingstones 
november 2018 by jerryking
Turn! Turn! Turn! — The Byrds’ 1965 hit used lyrics that dated back more than 2,000 years — FT.com
Nick Keppler OCTOBER 30, 2018

The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” has been used in films and TV shows to evoke collective memories of the 1960s — starting in 1970, when Homer, one of the first coming-of-age films about a Vietnam war soldier, featured the song on its soundtrack. Since then, the unmistakable chord progression and chorus have ceaselessly popped up in 1960s period pieces: More American Graffiti, Heart Like a Wheel, Forrest Gump, TV’s The Wonder Years (in three episodes) and Ken Burns’s documentary series The Vietnam War.

The song reached number one in the US in December 1965. That year, American ground troops arrived in Vietnam, men on campuses burned their draft cards, black civil rights activists withstood fire hoses and police dogs, and President Lyndon Johnson promoted his “great society” reforms. A chorus of shaggy-haired young men pressed the nation to “turn, turn, turn” and accept that change is inevitable, history is a cycle, strife is temporary, and to everything there is a season.

The song also carries the sonic imprints of the era: Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn once called the chord structure “Beatley” and said they borrowed the drum beat from Phil Spector. But the song itself was concocted by the leader of American folk music’s old guard using lyrics that dated back more than 2,000 years.

Pete Seeger composed “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in 1959 in response to a letter from his publisher. “Pete,” it read, “can’t you write another song like ‘Goodnight, Irene'? I can’t sell or promote these protest songs.” ("Goodnight, Irene” was actually written/adapted by Lead Belly, but Seeger had popularised it with The Weavers.) The response from the rabble-rousing troubadour was predictably defiant. “You better find another songwriter,” Seeger wrote. “This is the only kind of song I know how to write.”

He turned to his pocket notebook, where he jotted down pieces of text for recycling. He found parts of the Bible he had copied, “verses by a bearded fellow with sandals, a tough-minded fellow called Ecclesiastes”, Seeger recalled.

Specifically, it was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, from one of the “wisdom books” of the Old Testament, collections of truths and sayings. The words attributed “a season” to a series of opposing actions: “A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal,” etc. Seeger took the text almost verbatim. He added the “turn, turn, turn” to build a chorus and tacked on his own hopeful concluding line for cold war audiences: “A time of peace; I swear it’s not too late.”
'60s  Beatles  biblical  folk  hits  music  opposing_actions  pairs  protest_movements  scriptures  songs  songwriters  sonic  soundtracks 
november 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | How James Brown Made Black Pride a Hit
July 20, 2018 | The New York Times | By Randall Kennedy, law professor at Harvard.

African-Americans have internalized society’s derogation/denigration of blackness....It was precisely because of widespread colorism that James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” posed a challenge, felt so exhilarating, and resonated so powerfully....the song was written a half century go.....but, alas, the need to defend blackness against derision continues......Various musicians in the 1960s tapped into yearnings for black assertiveness, autonomy and solidarity. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sang “We’re a Winner.” Sly and the Family Stone offered “Stand.” Sam Cooke (and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding) performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” But no entertainer equaled Brown’s vocalization of African-Americans’ newly triumphal sense of self-acceptance.

That Brown created the song most popularly associated with the Black is Beautiful movement is ironic.....At the very time that in “Say It Loud,” Brown seemed to be affirming Negritude, he also sported a “conk” — a distinctive hairdo that involved chemically removing kinkiness on the way to creating a bouffant of straightened hair. Many African-American political activists, especially those with a black nationalist orientation, decried the conk as an illustration of racial self-hatred....by 1968... prejudice against blackness remained prevalent, including among African-Americans.....Champions of African-American uplift in the 1960s sought to liberate blackness from the layers of contempt, fear, and hatred with which it had been smeared for centuries. Brown’s anthem poignantly reflected the psychic problem it sought to address: People secure in their status don’t feel compelled to trumpet their pride.....Colorism was part of the drama that starred Barack and Michelle Obama....Intra-racial colorism in Black America is often seen as a topic that should, if possible, be avoided, especially in “mixed company.” .....Colorism, however, remains a baleful reality.....
'60s  African-Americans  blackness  black_liberation_movement  black_nationalism  black_pride  Black_Is_Beautiful  colorism  James_Brown  music  Negritude  self-identification  songs  Spike_Lee  soul  white_supremacy  biases  self-acceptance  self-hatred  shadism  hits  1968 
july 2018 by jerryking
Why Hotel California marked a watershed for rock
Peter Aspden

APRIL 3, 2017

It started, as things did in the heyday of rock music’s golden era, with a few strums of a guitar on a beach sofa in Malibu. Don Felder, guitarist of The Eagles, improvised a chord progression that he recorded on to a cassette, and handed to the rest of the band.
Don Henley started to write a lyric, set in a West Coast hostelry, and addressing the issue of America’s slow implosion into decadence. “Hotel California” was born.

The song was the title track of an album of the same name, released in December 1976, which represented The Eagles’ finest hour. They started as a wannabe country rock band with great hair and sumptuous harmonies. After Hotel California, they lost their touch. The release of “Hotel California” as a single marked a watershed for the band, but also for the course of popular music.
music  California  '70s  songwriters  country_rock  the_Eagles  rock-'n'-roll  songs  golden_age  turning_points 
january 2018 by jerryking
The Life of a Song: 1999
January 1, 2017 | Financial Times | David Cheal
'80s  songs  music  lyrics  Prince 
january 2017 by jerryking
I WISH I KNEW HOW IT WOULD FEEL TO BE FREE | Evernote Web
"I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" is a gospel/jazz song written by Billy Taylor and "Dick Dallas", best known for the recording by Nina Simone in 1967 on her Silk & Soul album. Billy Taylor's original version (as "I Wish I Knew") was recorded on November 12, 1963, and released on his Right Here, Right Now album (Capitol ST-2039) the following year. His 1967 instrumental take was later used as the theme music for the Film review programme series on BBC television.
Billy Taylor has explained: "I wrote this song, perhaps my best-known composition, for my daughter Kim. This is one of the best renditions I’ve done, because it is very spiritual."[1]
music  '60s  gospel  songs  civil_rights  spirituals 
december 2016 by jerryking
How the Beach Boys Made Their No. 1 Hit ‘Good Vibrations’
Anatomy of a Song How the Beach Boys Created .

In 1966, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys spent seven months producing “Good Vibrations” at an estimated cost of more than $400,000 in today’s dollars—a record at the time for a single. Despite the expense, the euphoric flower-power love song with densely layered instrumentals and vocal harmonies pioneered new standards for rock recording and studio experimentation.
music  psychedelic  '60s  flower-power  anniversaries  songs 
september 2016 by jerryking
The Life of a Song: ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ - FT.com
May 15, 2015 6:40 pm
The Life of a Song: ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’
Peter Aspden
music  1967  '60s  psychedelic  songs 
september 2015 by jerryking
Anatomy of a Song: The Clash's 'London Calling' - WSJ.com
August 29, 2013 | WSJ | By MARC MYERS

The Sound of Going to Pieces: The Clash's surviving members recount the making of a punk anthem
music  punk  '70s  London  United_Kingdom  songs 
august 2013 by jerryking
'Not Fade Away': The Making of a Killer Soundtrack - WSJ.com
December 6, 2012 | WSJ | By STEVE DOUGHERTY.

The Making of a Killer Soundtrack
David Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos,' and Steven Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, used dozens of 'needle drops' in the new movie 'Not Fade Away.' How it stacks up against the great rock-'n'-roll movies of yore....[the] use of recordings by name artists—called "needle drops" in the trade—is nothing new...the first one was in a James Cagney movie. But nearly half a century after the Beatles stormed America, needle drops are still used somewhat sparingly; they are the exception in Hollywood, not the rule. Finding the right songs is time-consuming and expensive. A conventional film score, perhaps with a couple of single songs thrown in, is far easier to construct, and adapt to plot situations.

Steven Spielberg, for one, works almost exclusively with his "Lincoln" composer John Williams. "Songs are great and they can have huge emotional impact, but they're not flexible," says indie film composer Jonathan Hartman. "Scores are like tailored suits—they're custom-made to precisely fit."...It's still a bit daring and subversive to buck this tradition, and some critics are likely to chide Mr. Chase for putting more care into the music than the character development. By filling the soundtrack with nothing but actual songs, he joins a small group of filmmakers who are upending the way movies are made.

"The right song can evoke a time and a sensibility and an entire world," says composer Alan Silvestri, whose collaborations with director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Flight") avidly mingle rock songs with original music.

Idea for Sunny Zaman
filmmakers  movies  music  rock-'n'-roll  songs  soundtracks  subversion  television 
december 2012 by jerryking
Berry Gordy Jr. | What's Going On | When Marvin Gaye Broke Pattern | Cultural Conversation by Marc Myers - WSJ.com
JUNE 7, 2011 | WSJ | By MARC MYERS.

Released first as a single in January 1971, "What's Going On" marked a major turning point for Gaye, Motown and soul music. Rather than continue to record formulaic pop hits, Gaye co-wrote a song that expressed his deep concern about the Vietnam War and the toll it was taking on American society. ....The single was considered a gamble for Motown. Its blunt protest theme was in stark contrast with Gaye's sexy public persona and Motown's congenial image. But as "What's Going On" raced up the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Gaye rushed back into the studio to complete a concept album that included "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues." The new songs—supported by horns, strings and a choir arranged by David Van DePitte—took on urban decay, poverty, unemployment, Vietnam veterans, children and pollution.
songs  Motown  anniversaries  commemoration  Marvin_Gaye  R&B  singers  music  music_industry  soul  Berry_Gordy  '70s  turning_points  protests 
june 2011 by jerryking

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