Gordon Thompson looks at the end of 60’s British Pop music.
By Liz Wollman
Colony Records, which will close on Saturday, September 15th after 64 years of business, is no mere record store. A cavernous, crowded, and never particularly tidy place, Colony has kept one foot firmly in its Tin Pan Alley past, and the other in its media-saturated present. The largest and easily most famous provider of sheet music in New York City, Colony also houses cassettes, CDs, DVDs, karaoke recordings, an absolutely enormous collection of records, and all kinds of memorabilia
The origins of Beatlemania.
By Gordon Thompson
On 9 October, many in the world will remember John Winston Ono Lennon, born on this date in 1940. He, of course, would have been amused, although part of him (the part that self-identified as “genius”) would have anticipated the attention. However, he might also have questioned why the Beatles and their music, and this Beatle in particular, would remain so current in our cultural thinking. When Lennon described the Beatles as just a band that made it very, very big, why did we doubt him?
Gordon Thompson looks at a unique revolution.
By Gordon Thompson
As the Beatles made their historic debut on American television in February 1964, the cast of Oliver!, the actor playing the role of the Artful Dodger, and other acts on the show watched from the wings as the hysteria unfolded. Davy Jones had started his acting career on British television, making his debut appearance in the venerable Coronation Street followed by the gritty Liverpool police drama, Z-Cars.
Fifty years ago, in March of 1963, The Beatles released their first album entitled Please Please Me. While the music partly based on British folk and popular forms—including skiffle and music-hall styles—American rock ’n’ roll was by far their dominant resource. The album quickly dominated the British charts and led the group to a path of superstardom that changed the world forever.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” the iconic hit featured on the Beatles’ much-celebrated 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is probably among one of the most mesmerizing and musically inventive Billboard-toppers of all time.
Did Eddie Cochran’s tour of the UK and death fifty years ago lead to the Beatles?
By Gordon Thompson
When George Martin first entered the recording industry in the early 1950s, assisting Oscar Preuss at EMI’s Parlophone, he encountered the end of the mechanical era. The company’s facilities on Abbey Road in genteel St. John’s Wood still used lathes to record sound by cutting grooves in warm wax with energy provided by weights and pulleys, like a child of Big Ben. The sheer mechanics of this kind of professional recording demanded large…
An original post from Gordon Thompson.
The 2012 Olympic games concluded on Sunday with choreographer Kim Gavin’s musical extravaganza. As with Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, Gavin was intent on impressing his vision of British music to the world. To underscore its significance, he titled the closing “A Symphony of British Music.” This title was a peculiar choice considering that classical historical musicology considers the “symphony” as a specific genre of classical music: a serious multi-movement work composed by a renowned composer, and performed by an orchestra.
We’re told many stories about the 1960s, typically clichéd tales of excess and revolution. But there’s more to the popular music of the 1960s. There are many ways in which rock music has shaped our ideas of individual freedom and collective belonging. Rock became a way for participants in American culture and counterculture to think about what it meant to be an American citizen, a world citizen, a citizen-consumer, or a citizen-soldier.
Humans seem to love attempting to understand the meaning of songs. Back in my college days, I spent many hours talking with friends about what this or that song must mean. Nowadays, numerous websites are devoted to providing space for fans to dissect and share their interpretations of their favorite songs (e.g. Song Meanings, Song Facts, and Lyric Interpretations). There is even a webpage with a six-step program for understanding a song’s meaning.
By Ron Rodman
Film director Danny Boyle’s gargantuan presentation at the opening ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad in London had little to do with the actual games, but had everything to do with his vision of Britain. The show was full of pageantry, drawing upon the 17th century English masque, a sort of loosely structured play with dance, music, costumes, songs and speeches, and festive scenery, with allegorical references to royalty, who would sometimes participate in the show. All elements of the masque were present, including the participation of the Queen herself, who stepped into the narrative briefly.
Picture the scene. You’re sitting in a box at the Royal Albert Hall, or the Vienna Musikverein. You have purchased tickets to hear Beethoven’s Ninth symphony performed by an internationally renowned orchestra, and they are playing it in a way that sounds wonderful. But what makes this such a powerful performance?