12:04 PM, May 27, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
With so many Republican candidates announcing their bids for the presidency these days, one our most hallowed election-year rituals can’t be far behind. I refer, of course, to when fading musical acts attempt to prove their progressive bona fides by making a stink when a candidate they disagree with plays their music at a rally.
This wearying spectacle has become something of an epidemic over the past several elections. Tom Petty carped when Michele Bachmann played his ‘American Girl’ in 2012. That particular gambit has apparently joined ‘Mary Jane's Last Dance’ as one of Petty’s greatest hits – he also objected when George W. Bush used ‘I Won’t Back Down’ back in 2000. Woe unto the 2016 contender who plays 'Runnin’ Down a Dream' at a rally.
It’s not only Petty, of course. A member of Survivor went after both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for inflicting ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on their audiences in 2012. Jackson Browne successfully sued John McCain for using (appropriately, in McCain’s case) ‘Running on Empty’ in 2008. And the list goes on…
This trend, of course, is yet more evidence of the relentless politicization of just about everything. But, lest we despair, there are two heartening examples of prominent musicians being, dare I say, ecumenical and tolerant when it comes to the political use of their music.
In 2008, Barack Obama used Brooks and Dunn’s ‘Only in America’ as something of a theme song, even though George W. Bush had employed the song in his 2000 campaign. Brooks and Dunn are anything but Democratic: The (sadly now retired) duo had even played at Bush’s first inauguration. Yet when Obama used the song, Messrs. Brooks and Dunn provided a master-class in humility and good sportsmanship. It’s, “very flattering to know our song crossed parties and potentially inspires all Americans,” said Kix Brooks.
A perhaps even more inspiring story is that of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. For several decades, Rush Limbaugh has used an instrumental version of ‘My City Was Gone’ as his bumper (i.e. intro) music. It’s safe to say that the outspoken Ms. Hynde, a prominent feminist and long-time PETA spokesman, is no dittohead. And Limbaugh, suffice it to say, is contemptuous of Hynde’s politics. Yet Chrissie Hynde has said she’s glad that Limbaugh uses the song. (Her parents are apparently fans of the program) Limbaugh, for his part, pays a generous annual fee, which is reportedly donated to PETA, for its use.
All of which is to say: Tom Petty could learn a valuable lesson in tolerance from Chrissie Hynde and Rush Limbaugh, of all people. He should consider their examples before the lawsuits (inevitably) start flying once again.
B.B. King, 1925-2015.10:47 AM, May 15, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
B.B. King, born Riley B. King and also called the Beale Street Blues Boy and the King of the Blues, has died at the age of 89. Earlier this month, he announced he was in hospice care due to complications from diabetes. (Nearly 15 years ago, B.B. had become a paid spokesman for a blood glucose test device OneTouch. “OneTouch gave me everything,” he crooned in the TV ad.) Even at his advanced age, his death comes as a shock, since the blues legend toured well into his eighties.
Sixty years on, the legacy of Charlie ParkerMar 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 26 • By TED GIOIA
Charlie Parker never achieved stardom, at least not by the standards of the music business. He never had a gold record to hang on the wall or enjoyed a significant radio hit. He never had a contract with a major record label. His face didn’t appear, even in a bit role, in a Hollywood film. If you measure a musician’s worth at the cash register—the ultimate arbiter of talent nowadays, or so it seems—Parker can only be called a minor figure, operating at the fringes of the entertainment industry.
6:12 PM, Jan 27, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
It's worth re-reading Fred Baumann on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born 259 years ago today:
IN BEYOND Good and Evil, Nietzsche rejoices that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "the last chord of a centuries-old great European taste . . . still speaks to us" and warns that "alas, some day all this will be gone."
1:02 PM, Feb 14, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Millions of people get their music through Pandora and this being the age when no data is left unmined, the preferences of this vast audience will soon be used for political purposes.
7:49 AM, Jan 31, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The State Department is presenting a global webcast on February 4, titled "From the Street to Mainstream: The Evolution of Rap/Hip Hop Music." The host of the webcast, rapper and State Department Music Ambassador Toni Blackman, will be joined by Pras Michel, a founding member of the hip hop group the Fugees, to discuss "how rap and hip hop have increased social awareness of the African-American experience — and raised even broader issues in contemporary society." Some of Michel's more inflammatory comments in the past raise questions about the appropriateness of his appearance with the U.S.'s music ambassador on a government-sponsored webcast representing America to the world.
3:43 PM, Dec 9, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
In the East Room of the White House Sunday night, President Obama hosted the Kennedy Center Honors Reception to recognize five American artists: Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Shirley MacLaine, and Billy Joel. The president gave a brief synopsis of each artist's career, including making light of the drug-induced hallucinations of Carlos Santana as he was introduced to the music world at the 1969 Woodstock music festival:
3:03 PM, Nov 13, 2013 • By JEFFREY GEDMIN
There's a black and white photo, a little grainy and slightly out of focus, of Igor Stravinsky greeting Mstislav Rostropovich at the Royal Academy of Music, London, in June 1964. Standing in the background in the upper left hand corner is a tall lanky figure, a 20-year-old music student named John Tavener. Also in the photo, just to the right, is John's brother Roger who was friendly with Ringo Starr.
Lou Reed went down and found a song that will survive.1:03 PM, Oct 28, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Lou Reed died yesterday in Amagansett, N.Y., thus ending his life on the same island, Long Island, where it began more than 71 years ago in Kings County, better known as Brooklyn.
Joseph Bottum on the guy who knew Jim Morrison
Jun 3, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 36 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
I met him once. Well, met in the loosest sense: I was introduced to Ray Manzarek at a Los Angeles restaurant in the 1980s and got to shake his hand. No more than that, but even at the time it felt like an encounter with passing greatness, a brush with the fading mythology of the age, and down through the years, I’ve never forgotten it.
12:36 PM, Apr 30, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Willie Nelson turns 80 today. As Kelly Phillips Erb writes in Forbes, it has been an interesting, prolific, and unusual career:
Will White House release guest list?7:34 AM, Apr 9, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
On Barack and Michelle Obama's schedule for today, this event is listed:
8:14 AM, Feb 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
This morning, the State Department announced, "Hip Hop Group Audiopharmacy to Tour Southeast Asia and the Pacific with American Music Abroad."