Tag Archives: Features

No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in the auto industry, lately you’ve probably heard something about the potential tie-up and subsequent unraveling and just-maybe tying the knot between FCA and Groupe Renault. You can’t buy a new Renault (or Dacia or Alpine) in the U.S. market. But you can buy FCA products to your heart’s content: Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Alfa Romeo. . .and Fiat (the “F” in FCA, with the “C” standing for Chrysler).

Fiat is the brand that has on offer the Fiat 500, the diminutive two-door with the arc-like profile. When it was brought to the U.S. market, the woman who was heading the brand in the U.S. then, Laura Soave, said, “Like the original Cinquecento a half-century ago, the new Fiat 500 changes the rules of personal transportation and delivers a new sense of individual expression and opportunity. At a time when America is getting back to basics with a fresh awareness of the environment around, the new Fiat 500 identifies with today’s minimalistic attitude and delivers with state-of-the-art eco-friendly technology wrapped in world-class quality, craftsmanship and style.”

Unfortunately, the 500 in the U.S. market proved to be pretty much not more than a novelty act, one of those things that you see once and never really need to again, but in this case it was a matter of people initially glomming onto it and then showing nothing but disinterest. That is, for all of 2018 FCA sold 5,370 Fiat 500s in the U.S. If you add in the derivatives, the 500L at 1,413 and the 500X at 5,223, the total in terms of vehicle sales is rather abysmal. Arguably, in this age where the Green New Deal is something garnering attention, there is no less “awareness of the environment around,” but the 500 is no longer part of that “back to basics” approach.

Yet the 500 motors on, especially in Europe, where the company turns out model after model with new takes, with two of the most recent being named—and this is real—the “Star” and the “Rockstar.”
Those who buy either of those models will find that there is a BeatsAudio sound system. And for what I imagine is a limited time, those buying a Star or Rockstar will get six months of Apple Music free.

To launch the models, the Leo Burnett Creative Agency developed an ad that was shot in Barcelona and uses, as its soundtrack, “Just One Lifetime” by Shaggy and Sting.

Several years ago, Sting was in a commercial for Jaguar. His physical presence has a cameo now in an ad for Fiat.

Jaguar. Fiat.

Of course, Sting was once in a band named The Police.

The question in the Jaguar ad was “What does a rock star dream of?”

Probably not the Fiat 500 Rockstar.

Continue reading No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

“Don’t Take The Brown Acid”

At the Woodstock Festival that occurred 50 years ago this coming July the performers included Creedence Clearwater Revival; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Jefferson Airplane; the Grateful Dead.

For reasons that probably have more to do with lucre than love, there is Woodstock 50 planned for this summer. There has been a considerable amount of more notoriety of this event as regards the financing than the acts, but the roster is nothing if not robust.

If we go back to the opening paragraph of this, know that among the performers are John Fogerty; David Crosby; Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady (a.k.a., Hot Tuna); and Dead & Company.

Fogerty is 73. Crosby, 77. Jorma, 78. Casady 75. And just to pick one still there and still alive, Bob Weir 71.

At this point you might expect one of my typical rants about old musicians hanging it up.

But I’m not going to do that.

Rather, it simply strikes me that back in 1969 there was an event that had a certain music-changing magnitude (I’d argue that all of the variants of the “Star Spangled Banner” that are now heard at NASCAR races and sporting events go back to Hendrix taking what had theretofore been something of an untouchable icon and molding it into something completely different) that has never been equaled. It was a phenomenon. While it certainly wasn’t the first music festival, nor will it be the last, it was something that had far more cultural resonance than anything that was there before or after, and much of this has to do with the spontaneity of the events on the ground as they transpired and changed the entire dynamic of what was to be into something that was more representative of the age: a whiff of anarchy.

Yes, there are music festivals. Yes, there should continue to be music festivals.

But what are the organizers thinking is going to happen? Are they going to catch lightning in a bottle, or are they going to be working out—as seems to be the case right now—how much they’re going to be able to capture in terms of monetary value? Is this a music festival or a payday?

Continue reading “Don’t Take The Brown Acid”

“They Got the Steely Dan T-shirts. . . .”

A friend who moved out of state keeps tabs on what’s going on in Michigan as those moving from one place to another are wont to do. Whenever I’m in a hotel and get a copy of USA Today outside the door I always look at the weather for Illinois, even though it has been a long time since I lived there and I’m not likely to go back, so the climate is irrelevant. But still. . .

She sent me an email letting me know that Steely Dan is scheduled to play at the Meadowbrook Amphitheater this summer, which is north of Detroit.

My response to her, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading what I’ve been writing here for quite some time, was simply: “Steely Dan no longer exists.”

When Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017, the proverbial last nail in the coffin of the band was hammered in place: requiescat in pace.

Of course, as seems to be de rigueur for musicians who were once on top of the world and are now trying to desperately stay at least near the bottom, Donald Fagen is having none of that, so he sued Walter Becker’s estate, and the band, such as it is, continues on. If “Steely Dan” was Becker and Fagen, and there is no Becker, then how is that still the band? Certainly it can be labeled as the band—unless that lawsuit comes out against Fagen’s wishes—and let’s face it: nowadays truth and falsehood seem to be exchangeable.

Continue reading “They Got the Steely Dan T-shirts. . . .”

The Road

One of the aspects of rock and roll that gets little general attention is the Sisyphusian life on the road. Ideally the band gets a tour. The tour commences. If things go really well, then (a) the tour gets extended or (b) another tour is established hard on the heels of the first. There is no visible end. Until the end. Then it isn’t pretty.

While touring is certainly a good thing vis-à-vis “making it” (and, presumably, making money), there is a price to be paid for this by the participants. When starting out, travel is fairly primitive and grim. Beat-up vans that have a tendency to break down or buses with a toilet that is dysfunctional on better days. Maybe a motel where the carpet is such that shoes stay on.

If it is a band that has made it, then, certainly, the level of accoutrements is elevated. And while it may seem, initially, exceedingly wonderful to be staying in hotels that had only otherwise been seen while thumbing through a lifestyle magazine in a dentist’s waiting room, that sense of wonder soon dissipates.

Just consider a simple aspect of this. Life on the road means life not spent at home. Not with family. Possibly with friends (but this is no lock, even if a bandmate is family). No possibility of doing “ordinary” things, like going to a favorite restaurant or taking out the trash.

But it is the job. The life.

Somehow the rock musician is elevated in the minds of many who would consider the life of a traveling salesman to be sad, possibly tragic. And how is that different from playing in a band?

A band that has been touring for what could be the definition of “forever” is the Rolling Stones. The extent to which the band is on the road would make the road normalcy and home something unusual.

Continue reading The Road

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart Filmmaker’s Diary

Documentary director Sam Jones kept a “filmmaker’s diary” of his experience working on a movie about Wilco. The documentary would eventually be called “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” but I remember a short period of time when the film’s web site called it “I’m Trying to Break Your Heart.” (The Internet Wayback Machine tells me the title was updated on wilcofilm.com some time between March 26 and May 23, 2002.)

Jones rolled out the diary to the site every couple of weeks after transcribing his handwritten notes from months before, starting with his writing to Wilco’s manager about the idea in October 2000. The final entry was uploaded in February 2002 after only getting through August 2001. Jones said, “We will continue to update the diary every few weeks with new entries, and have no intention of stopping until the entire story has been told.” Nevertheless, he did not persist. By 2004 the web site was abandoned and in 2005 the wilcofilm.com domain registration was not renewed.

Before he quit the project, Sam Jones contributed over 40,000 words to his filmmaker’s diary. Quite an effort! It would have been cool if he would have seen it through, but even in an incomplete state, it’s a really cool achievement. Inquiries to Jones were not immediately returned. We’re reprinting it here.

October 26, 2000

This film began with an idea and a letter. The idea was that a band that I really loved was probably in the studio recording their fourth record, and there should really be a movie about that. The letter, once I tracked down his address, was sent to the band’s manager, Tony Margherita. It said, in many more words, basically the same thing. But everything that happened next was probably largely a result of those many more words, because they had a conviction that has carried me through the project. I wrote in the letter that I believe Wilco is a band that will stand the test of time. Like The Band, the Clash, Big Star, the Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan, Wilco makes dense, emotional, timeless records that will keep being discovered by new generations of music lovers.

November 3, 2000

I received a phone call from Tony Margherita, Wilco’s manager, who told me that the idea sounded very promising, and that Jeff Tweedy and Tony would like me to fly to Chicago to meet them. I asked Tony about the schedule and he informed me that the band was about 30% into the making of the new record, tentatively titled “Here Comes Everybody,” and that they were recording entirely in their Chicago loft with no producer or record company personnel present. We talked more about what the band would be doing for the next year, and it seemed very feasible that I would be able to get the whole record-making process on film. Tony suggested I fly to Chicago the next week to talk.

Continue reading I Am Trying to Break Your Heart Filmmaker’s Diary

2018 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Streams

I’d been holding off on releasing this post until Billboard published Ed Christman’s year-end wrap-up online, but it looks like it’s going to be print-only. So go out and buy the magazine if you want Ed’s perspective on these numbers.

For 2018 Billboard changed the way it calculates streaming equivalent albums. From 2014 through 2017 they counted 1,500 streams as equal to one “album consumption unit.” The idea was that the average payout per stream was $0.005 so 1,500 of those added up to $7.50, i.e., the wholesale price of an album.

This year they’re complicating things by separating paid from ad-supported streaming, with paid subscription audio streams equating 1,250 streams to 1 album unit and ad-supported equating 3,750 streams to 1 album. So it makes it difficult to compare 2018 to the years before…

This also makes you wonder about how much revenue streaming is truly generating. Does anybody really believe that YouTube pays out $7.50 for 3,750 streams of a song? I don’t.

So I’m no longer reporting total music “consumption.” It’s a bullshit metric that doesn’t really mean anything. The industry can manipulate the numbers to tell whatever story they want to tell. Sales and streams, that’s all we really know.

Another complicating factor is that 2018 was a 53-week year, so when Billboard shows volume comparisons to the previous year they use a corresponding 53-week period. This makes me a little nervous about some of the old data we’ve reported, since we sometimes have used the prior year’s numbers. We continue to update this as new information becomes available throughout the year as we try to fill in any holes or correct any mistakes, so if you see any inaccuracies or anything weird please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2018: 141 million
2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Continue reading 2018 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Streams

Glorious Noise is 18. And we like it.

Alice Cooper - I'm Eighteen

Every year around this time I ask myself a question: Why are we doing this?

There’s no really good answer. I guess the hope is there’s somebody out there who likes rock and roll music but doesn’t want to have to seek out good new stuff. So we’re providing a service.

The reality, of course, is if you’re bothering to go to a web site like this you’re already seeking stuff out. You don’t need us.

So are we in it for the money? Well, let’s just say a couple weeks ago we started messing around with ads again for the first time in years, and so far the results would suggest no. Google tells me that in the last seven days we’ve made $1.08. We’ll see how it goes, but if it stays like that I’ll yank the ads. It’s not worth it to have to look at men’s underwear and stupid t-shirts every time I open a web browser.

It can be downright depressing if you dwell on it.

But it would be more depressing at this point to just quit. I like GLONO being the O.G. that’s been around since 2001, and we’ve published a bunch of good stuff over the years. I’m super proud of our small part in helping kick off the careers of some great writers.

Plus, it’s still exciting to have to meet the challenge of finding something new and good to post every day. There’s lots of great music being released all the time, and it’s fun to find it and share it.

One other thing that’s been cool this year was finally starting an instagram account in September. I had stubbornly and stupidly been opposed to it. Seemed a little too late/dollar short. But DP made the case: “People love photos! And we actually have an archive of some pretty dope ones.” I had never considered re-purposing our backlog of hundreds of photos from fests and shows over years.

So yeah, we’ve been posting to instagram every day since then and we’ve managed to attract 292 followers. So thanks to everybody who’s followed us. Again…worth it? I dunno. But it’s been fun to look through the photos. We’ve shot a lot of bands!

I apologize for the somewhat negative tone. The past two years have been mentally exhausting and psychically debilitating in a lot of ways. It’s tough to stay positive. There are signs of hope for the future, maybe, but it’s a slog to find them when you’re overwhelmed by soul-crushing news every fucking day for 748 days straight…and counting.

Then again, I’ve been through many times in which I thought I might lose it. The only thing that saved me has always been music. A wise man said that.

So the state of this web site, I guess, is alright.

Previous birthdays: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018.

Continue reading Glorious Noise is 18. And we like it.

Boo Who

Many years ago, when I was perhaps 5 years old, my dad was driving my brother and me somewhere in downtown Detroit, which, in retrospect, I realize was somewhere near Woodward Avenue and Campus Martius, where there is planned slowing due to a circular pattern to streets in that area (an interesting fun fact about the street layout in downtown Detroit, it was designed by Augustus B. Woodward, who used Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s model for Washington DC, meaning that this is not a grid pattern, as is the case in cities like New York and Chicago).

I looked out the window of the Pontiac Catalina and saw something that I will not forget: There was a black horse pulling a black wagon being driven by a man dressed all in black, including a black stovepipe hat. The wagon was carrying a black. . .casket.

This, I was to learn, was a stunt for a movie that was being shown at the Fox Theatre, The Premature Burial, which was based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe.

Appropriate. Memorable. And the sort of thing that isn’t executed much or as well today.

Which brings us back to The Who. Or, as previously indicated, the brand known as “The Who.”

In support of the Moving On! Tour there are three buses—the sorts of things that are the jump-on, jump-off tourist variety—that are painted with a scheme that resembles the bus on the cover of the 1968 album Magic Bus—The Who On Tour that are rolling in Chicago, New York and LA for the next couple weeks.

Continue reading Boo Who

Who Do They Think They Are?

Although I have been MIA from this page for some time now, something that needs to be addressed has come to my attention, something far worse than I had originally thought as I looked into things a bit more.

As you are probably aware, “The Who” are going back on tour. It is called “Moving On!” Odds are that they’re moving on to still another tour.

As you are probably also aware, I put “The Who” in quotes because while half a band may be better than none, as I’ve argued many times, when you have half a loaf you have, well, half a loaf, not the whole thing. Daltrey and Townshend are certainly much of the substance of the mix, but let’s not kid ourselves: that label is about marketing. That is, while there are probably people who have picked up The Who T-shirts at their local Target and who are wearing them proudly, were you to ask them who Daltrey and Townshend are, they might answer, “Uh, law firm . . .?”

No, I am not going to go down that well-rutted road again.

But I am going to express my dismay at what it has come to for those veteran performers.

Upon receiving an email from Ticketmaster announcing the opportunity to getting tickets for “The Who” sooner rather than later, I looked into the “VIP Packages.” Go big or don’t go, right?

There are three packages.

And at this point, I must warn you: If you are a fan of The Who you might want to stop reading right now because otherwise you may be so disturbed that you will bin, erase or otherwise dispose of your collection.

The packages are, from top to bottom: “Baba O’ Riley Ultimate Soundcheck,” “My Generation Soundcheck” and “Who Are You Premium Seat.”

Continue reading Who Do They Think They Are?

GLONO’s 21 Best Songs of 2018

Happy New Year!

Once again, as always, there were a ton of great songs released last year. Narrowing it down to the 21 best is a bit ridiculous, but it’s a digestible chunk of music to summarize the year.

My absolute favorite song of the year was also the most surprising: the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Pray to Jesus” blew my mind the first time I heard it and continues to blow we away with each listen. The fact that the Oak Ridge Boys of “Elvira” fame (1981) are not only still together but still sounding this good and recording material of this quality doesn’t make any sense. Or maybe it does! Everything was crazy in 2018.

In addition to “Pray to Jesus” we’ve compiled twenty more great songs from 2018 sequenced for maximum listening pleasure. Please enjoy!

21 Best Songs of 2018 on Spotify

Continue reading GLONO’s 21 Best Songs of 2018