Friday, May 22, 2015

Pop culture roundup: That Coke song

Music historian Martin Lewis traces the history of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," made famous in a 1972 Coca-Cola commercial and lately in the news due to its being featuring in the final episode of "Mad Men."
It was McCann Erickson creative director Bill Backer who in early 1971 came up with the slogan “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company” as an idea for a Coca Cola ad campaign. But he knew it needed to become a jingle to make it succeed. So he turned to a successful British pop-writing duo Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway and gave them the challenge.

The duo wrote massive worldwide hits such as the Hollies’ 1972 smash “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” “You’ve Got Your Troubles” (#7 Billboard for The Fortunes in August 1965), “My Baby Loves Lovin” (White Plains, 1970) and many more.

Fab Friday: Vintage Beatles pics

More Beatles posts at the Glass Onion Beatles Journal.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

50 years ago: The Beatles (almost) meet Doctor Who!

On May 22, 1965, the Beatles - via a short video clip - appeared on an episode of "Doctor Who." It could've been a lot more, but it's still pretty cool.

Read my article about this historical near-meeting right now on Something Else Reviews!

Video find: The Marmalade perform "I See the Rain"

Pop artifacts: Batman comics from Hong Kong

Pop stuff: Mad Men

What I'm reading, watching, hearing, etc.

Mad Men ended it's seven-season run this week on a perfect, mysterious note. Sitting lotus style on a law overlooking Big Sur, we see ad man Don Draper meditating with a group of other seekers. He intones "om" and a little smile comes to his lips.

Then the scene fades into the classic Coca-Cola commercial featuring a group of young people of all races and creeds perfectly harmonizing "I'd like to teach the world to sing..."

The show's creator, Matthew Weiner, certainly took a cue from "The Sopranos" here. Just as we were with that show, we were left wondering. Did Tony finish his meal at the restaurant with his family, or was he gunned down in a mob hit? Did Don finally reach some inner peace, or did he jump up, rush back to New York and create the classic ad that ended the show?

Ultimately, it's up to each of us to choose our own ending. Certainly, there were clues dropped that lead us to the Coke conclusion. The prospect of working on the Coca-Cola account was a possibility throughout the last several episodes, and Peggy mentions the possibility to Don, hoping to coax him back home. There's also a seen in with a motel owner enlists Don's help to repair a Coke machine.

And what about the sad man Don hears during a group therapy session at his Big Sur retreat? The one who is always there, always dependable, but who feels overlooked. He mentions his dream of being on a shelf in a refrigerator. People look in on him and smile and the light turns on. They don't choose him, the door shuts and the light goes off.

Seemingly moved, Don walks over and hugs the man. But is he moved by compassion or thankfulness? Is the sad man a human deserving of compassion, or a human bottle of Coke, who's just helped re-fire Don's creative engines?

It's a brilliant ending to a brilliant show, which played more like a novel than TV series, with its understated dialogue, left turns, and questioning themes of what it means/meant to be a man or woman in America and how we choose or are forced into the roles we play.

It's also a great ending, because it makes you want to go back to the start and see how it all fits together and leads to this point. I suspect many of us will be watching the series again. And maybe again after that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Coming up: Truancy by Pete Townshend

A new Pete Townshend best-of, featuring two newly recorded songs, is on the way June 30.

June 30 sees the release of Truancy: The Very Best Of Pete Townshend as part of a new deal with Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).

The 17-track album features two brand new songs and is part of an extensive reissue program for Townshend's solo material that will see his catalog remastered and reworked running into 2016.
Truancy was remastered at Abbey Road Studios, features new liner notes, an introduction to the two new songs by Townshend and highlights from nine key Townshend albums including the singles – "Rough Boys," "Let My Love Open The Door," "Face Dances (Pt. 2)," "English Boy" and "Face The Face."
Of the compilation Townshend says, "I hope it offers a selection that works to introduce new fans to my solo work. I am a bit of a dabbler I'm afraid. I am as interested in building, developing and playing with recording studios as I am with making music. The Who has taken up most of my road hours, and in this year of the 50th anniversary of our first significant year in 1965, we are back on the road again."
The two new, previously unreleased songs exclusive to this collection are "Guantanamo" and "How Can I Help You."
Pete Townshend on "Guantanamo": "I thought this song might never see the light of day, but now President Obama has relaxed sanctions in Cuba, it is a happy sign he might go further. Technically this was created in rather a laborious way. I recorded a long organ drone using my vintage Yamaha E70 organ (used many times by me on Who and solo recordings in the past), and then cut it into something that sounded like a song using a feature unique to Digital Performer called 'chunks.' This creates blocks of groups of tracks that can be assembled and disassembled easily, like cutting multitrack analogue tape with a razor blade, but with less blood. The lyric grew out of the implicit angry frustration in the organ tracks."
Townshend again, "'How Can I Help You' was inspired partly by the frustrating emotional difficulties experienced by a valued colleague. He was in great physical pain and it drove him into depression. I performed an acoustic version of the song on my partner Rachel Fuller's webcast show 'In the Attic.' I began this recording with an acoustic guitar, added drum loops and breaks then Gretsch and Rickenbacker 12-string guitars and John Entwistle's hybrid Thunderbird-Fender Precision bass."
  1. Pure And Easy (from Who Came First)
  2. Sheraton Gibson (from Who Came First)
  3. Let's See Action (Nothing Is Everything) (from Who Came First)
  4. My Baby Gives It Away (from Rough Mix)
  5. A Heart To Hang On To (from Rough Mix)
  6. Keep Me Turning (from Rough Mix)
  7. Let My Love Open The Door (from Empty Glass)
  8. Rough Boys (from Empty Glass)
  9. The Sea Refuses No River (from All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes)
  10. Face Dances (Pt. 2) (from All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes)
  11. White City Fighting (from White City)
  12. Face The Face (from White City)
  13. I Won't Run Anymore (from The Iron Man)
  14. English Boy (from Psychoderelict)
  15. You Came Back (from Scoop)
  16. Guantanamo (New song)*
  17. How Can I Help You (New song)*

Video find: The Small Faces perform "All or Nothing"