Tag Archives: Features

“God Only Knows”

One of the more enjoyable TV series of the late ‘00s was “Leverage,” an Americanized version of a better British show, “Hustle.” Both are about grifters. The American cast is led by Timothy Hutton, who plays the “brains” of the operation. During each episode they would find someone who did some innocent wrong in some mean, devious financial way, and then the crew would go after that person in an unexpectedly imaginative way.

Depending on the circumstance of the con, Hutton’s character, after devising the plan, would say, “Let’s go steal a _________.” The object would always be something outrageous in scope, such as a museum or a mountain or a carnival or a town.

That phrase came to mind, albeit in a somewhat different form, when I read that Irving Azoff, long-time manager of The Eagles, started a company, Iconic Artists Group. . .and bought the Beach Boys.

“Let’s go buy a band.”

The purchase from Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and the estate of Carl Wilson, includes masters, part of the publishing (Universal owns the music from the 1960s), the brand, and Beach Boys memorabilia.

While we’ve seen musicians from Dylan to Young selling publishing rights of late, this is different.

The Beach Boys become a “thing” that will be brought to market via brand development and the ever-important brand monetization.

Continue reading “God Only Knows”

“The Middle”

One of the all-time best Super Bowl commercials, and certainly the best-ever ad for a car company, was aired 10 years ago during Super Bowl XLV. The ad, known both as “Born of Fire” and “Imported from Detroit,” shows Eminem rolling through the streets of Detroit. The images were not all chamber-of-commerce shiny and bright. The edge nature of the crumbling environment, a situation that led to people visiting to see the post-industrial archelogy in front of their eyes (not exactly Pompei-like ruins, but certainly not necessarily a place you’d like to take a Sunday walk). The soundtrack is an instrumental version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” He is driving what was then a new Chrysler 200.

You see the Robert Graham “Monument to Joe Louis,” a sculpture that is better known around these parts as “The Fist,” which is located at the foot of Woodward at Jefferson, and you know that Detroit is not a city that is like any other.

Eminem drives the 200 to the Fox Theatre, a classic movie house opened in 1928 and completely rehabilitated by the company that owns Little Caesar’s Pizza (yes, that is from Detroit, as is Domino’s), where the marque outside reads “Keep Detroit Beautiful.” The narrator to that point had talked about how Detroit isn’t New York, Chicago, Vegas, “And we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City.”

He walks down an aisle of the theater, which has long been a music venue rather than a movie house, and on the stage there’s the Selected of God choir, wearing their Sunday robes and singing, as the instrumental “Lose Yourself” builds.

Eminem turns to the camera, accusatorially points his finger, and says, “This is the Motor City and this is what we do.”

“God damn right,” Detroiters everywhere nodded.

Continue reading “The Middle”

From the Legal Desk: The Earth Is Round

One of the more brilliant bits of writing is found in the Introduction of the lawsuit–SMARTMATIC USA CORP., SMARTMATIC INTERNATIONAL HOLDING B.V., and SGO CORPORATION LIMITED, Plaintiffs, -against FOX CORPORATION, FOX NEWS NETWORK LLC, LOU DOBBS, MARIA BARTIROMO, JEANINE PIRRO, RUDOLPH GIULIANI, and SIDNEY POWELL, Defendants—filed in the Supreme Court of New York.

It includes:

1. The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts. They are demonstrable and irrefutable.

2. Defendants have always known these facts. They knew Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 U.S. election. They knew the election was not stolen. They knew the election was not rigged or fixed. They knew these truths just as they knew the Earth is round and two plus two equals four.

3. Defendants did not want Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to win the election. They wanted President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence to win re-election. Defendants were disappointed. But they also saw an opportunity to capitalize on President Trump’s popularity by inventing a story. Defendants decided to tell people that the election was stolen from President Trump and Vice President Pence.

4. Defendants had an obvious problem with their story. They needed a villain. They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil.

5. Without any true villain, Defendants invented one. Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story. . . .

6. Those facts would not do for Defendants. So, the Defendants invented new ones. . . .

Not only is this simplicity potentially devastating for the defendants (perhaps not uncoincidentally, Lou Dobbs’ show was canceled by Fox the day after the suit was filed, which tells you something), but the opening is a good description of law suits of all types. Subtract the specifics of the claim, the individuals involved, and note how there are simple things that are known and that people have a tendency to make things up to their advantage. Sometimes the creation of the fiction is predicated simply on the people involved not knowing better. Sometimes it is to try to gain an advantage. (Which is the case in this case: weaving a conspiracy that includes the election equipment and software company in a nefarious undertaking to prevent their Dear Leader from holding on to his position was undoubtedly thought to be good for ratings, and ratings mean money, and Smartmatic’s is a $2.7-billion defamation lawsuit that will undoubtedly make Rudy sweat more than he did outside the Four Seasons Lawn & Landscaping building.)

While it isn’t nearly to the degree of the Smartmatic lawsuit, the CEO of Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove, Utah, has filed a lawsuit against Taylor Swift because she released an album named “Evermore.”

Continue reading From the Legal Desk: The Earth Is Round

XX

Glorious Noise turns 20 and my have things changed. 

Twenty years is a long time, especially in the Information Age where time bends and flips unto itself in meta ways. Digital Culture is not measured in years but memes…in Scaramuccis. To think back on twenty years of Glorious Noise is more than my feeble Gen X mind can even really do or bring any sense to. Still, I must try because it’s the only reason to even participate online anymore.

When we started Jake had to jigger a light hack to even allow comments. The Internet promised to democratize information, but to even have two-way conversations required some level of technical ability most normies didn’t have. So at first, it was still us broadcasting to you. It was our turn to be the gatekeepers and tell you what was cool out there, and more often than not what wasn’t cool. It was fun and basically what my friends and I did at every party we ruined in Chicago. We got loud and debated the legitimacy of the host’s music collection. Now that everyone streams, can we even do that anymore? Where’s the fun?

For a while the site made some money, which kept us online and allowed us to throw parties and launch a record label. You know all this because we mention some version of the site’s history each year at this time. I mention it now because nobody makes money online anymore. Even porn is free. So we don’t throw any parties anymore and we don’t put out our friends’ records. 

I don’t write this as a whine, but to list a few more examples of how things have changed. We didn’t launch the site to make any money and now we’re back to the beginning. We do it now for the same reason we started: because we like to talk about music. Maybe not as much as we used to, but still…

So happy birthday, GLONO. I am pretty proud that this site has been running for twenty years. We’ve found and shared a lot of really cool music in those twenty years and my one true hope is that somewhere along the way, that music changed your life.

Father John Misty - In Twenty Years or So

Twenty Years Ago Today… Well, Tomorrow

On February 6, 2021, Glorious Noise will have been online for twenty years. Twenty!

I’m trying to remember what life was like twenty years ago. 2001. So long ago. The world wide web was still pretty new. You could buy used records for a buck or two. Good stuff, too, in good condition!

No smart phones. How did we coordinate anything? How did we know where we were going? I guess a lot of times we didn’t know. We just stumbled around until we found what we were looking for.

We’ve seen a lot of changes over these twenty years. The music industry, especially. With everybody streaming now, we’re finally hooked into that “celestial jukebox” that filesharing originally had us thinking about back then. Pretty much. There’s still tons of stuff that’s not available on streaming services.

While announcing our tenth anniversary in 2011, we went on hiatus for a while. That was ten years ago now. There were a lot of reasons for it, but we needed a break. At the time, I wasn’t totally sure if we would come back. But we did and we’ve kept it going ever since. Looking back, 2013-2016 were pretty slow, averaging just 35 posts a year. That’s as dead as we got. But in 2017 and 2018 we recommitted and posted something new every weekday. We’ve grown a little lazier since then, but the goal is still to find as much good stuff to share as we can.

And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

This is typically the time of year I ask myself what’s the point of doing this at all. I still don’t have a very good answer. I look around at other dads and they keep themselves busy with golf and…I don’t even really know. I still like to listen to music and I still get excited when I hear something new that’s good. And when that happens I want to tell people about it.

So here we are. Twenty years later. Doing it ourselves. For no good reason. A labor of love.

Let’s all hope this year is better than last year. Maybe we’ll get to experience live music again before 2022. I hope so. I miss going to shows. Yelling at bands. Drinking beers with pals. Buying t-shirts from the merch table. It’s been a really long time.

I can’t wait until we’re all vaccinated and we can kick off the Roaring Twenties for real. Until then, hang in there.

Previous birthdays: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

Continue reading Twenty Years Ago Today… Well, Tomorrow

Truckin’

As there has been a decided tendency on my part to write these things with numbers—many of which have something to do with an alphanumeric that ends with “19,” which I promise not to go into today—here are some numbers that, unless you are into the pickup version of trainspotting (the actual British pastime, not the Irvine Welsh book or the Danny Boyle film), you’re probably unaware of.

In 2020 Ford sold 787,422 F-Series trucks. That means that every single person in Seattle could have gotten an F-Series truck last year. The F-Series has been the best-selling pickup for 44 years. That goes back to 1976. The top three songs Billboard Top 100 singles list for that year are (1) “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, (2) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, (3) “Disco Lady” by Jonnie Taylor. Yes, a long time ago.

There’s more.

Ford hired the Boston Consulting Group late last year to run some numbers on the importance of the F-Series to the U.S. economy. And it turns out that the F-Series supports about 500,000 jobs in the U.S. (this doesn’t mean there are 500,000 people building pickup trucks but that if you take direct employees and dealer employees, there is a multiplier effect leading to that figure). And another multiplier figure: the F-Series contributes about $49-billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

All of that may seem rather nebulous (unless “Silly Love Songs” is now stuck in your head and you’ve pretty much glazed over the preceding paragraph).

So here’s something that makes it more tangible, perhaps.

The revenue for the iPhone in the U.S. is $55-billion, which explains, in part, why Apple is so valuable. The revenue for the F-Series is $42-billion. The revenue for the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL combined is $40-billion. (And you might have thought the Super Bowl was a huge deal.) And speaking of sports, all of the Budweiser product sold in the U.S.: $15-billion. (Don’t drive an F-Series, or anything else, for that matter, after consuming some of that.)

And in the context of companies with which we’re all familiar, the F-Series has more revenue than McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

A final thing about Ford and pickup trucks: Henry Ford is credited with inventing the pickup, with the first model rolling off the assembly line in 1925. (Among the popular songs in 1925 were “Ah-Ha!” by Ted Lewis and His Jazz Band, “Let’s All Go to Mary’s House” by Savoy Orpheans and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Ace Brigode & His Fourteen Virginians.)

Yes, there actually is something to do with music in all of this.

It’s the phenomenal popularity of trucks in country music.

For a reason that is absolutely mysterious, a British vehicle insurance site, money.co.uk, worked with a U.S. data scientist, John Miller, to analyze country music and trucks. There were more than 16,000 songs analyzed from the past 50 years.

From that base it was determined that 4.16% of all country music has a reference to trucks. The decade of the 2010s had a full 8%.

Continue reading Truckin’

Trophy in a Morgue or on the Mantlepiece: Roll the Dice

“The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”

That is part of a joint statement from Harvey Mason, Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy; Jack Sussman, executive vice president, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming [there’s a lot to unpack with that list], CBS [no there isn’t]; and Ben Winston, GRAMMY Awards® executive producer, Fulwell 73 Productions.

The three were announcing that the presentation would be postponed from January 31 to March 14. They made their statement on January 5.

This is being written on January 16. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Los Angeles County leads the nation in confirmed COVID-19 cases: 990,632. Cook County is in second place, at 429,270, or about 57% of LA. Deaths? LA County is number one with a bullet, at 13,504 deaths. Cook is at 8,939.

This is not to make light of those numbers. Not at all.

But it is to draw attention to the fact that things are not good in LA County—to understate things.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington, today (January 16) there are 391,609 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

March 14? The projection is that that number will increase to 540,433. Deaths.

Continue reading Trophy in a Morgue or on the Mantlepiece: Roll the Dice

Data: 2020 Total Music Sales and Streams

Streams are up, sales are down. Except for vinyl, which is up again for the sixteenth year in a row (but still less than the trusty old compact disc). The industry will try to convince you that “music consumption” is up, and maybe it is, but those calculations are squishy at best.

Especially when they change their formulas every year. This year, Billboard is not using total music streams (audio-only + video streams) in their “album equivalent audio music consumption” calculation “due to reporting methodology changes from a major video provider.” They are just using audio-only streams plus sales. This way, they can say that “album equivalent audio music consumption grew 12%.” Hooray! Good news, right?

Maybe. Without knowing exactly how that major video provider’s reporting methodology changed, how can we be sure that video streams didn’t just go down from 401 billion in 2019 to 147 billion in 2020? Looking at that, it does seem a little extreme, doesn’t it? Was the number of video streams inflated before? Regardless, including those 2020 video stream numbers in the calculation would mean that overall song streams fell from 1.147 trillion in 2019 to 1.02 trillion in 2020. Which, combined with the annual decrease in album sales, would make it look like overall music consumption dropped in 2020. And we can’t have that. Nobody like a loser.

Therefore, exclude the video streams altogether and everything’s rosy again! Label execs and the RIAA can feel like they’re earning their bonuses. Everyone’s a winner.

Whatever. Enough cynicism. If you want to support musicians, buy t-shirts and physical media directly from your favorite artists’ websites.

Let’s all hope we get to go to some concerts this year. Wouldn’t that be fun? So #saveourstages.

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

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2020: 102.4 million
2019: 112.75 million
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 Data: 2020 Total Music Sales and Streams

Wrapping up 2020

Good riddance to what has been, objectively, a very bad year.

343,000+ Americans have died of a disease that can be carried by people without symptoms and spread to people who might die. Most people who get it don’t get too sick. Some never even know they had it. And yet it’s already killed 1 in 1,000 Americans.

The most disturbing thing about 2020 has been how this virus has exposed how little Americans care about each other. How easy it’s been to shrug off thousands of people dying every day. How unwilling people are to inconvenience themselves for the sake of protecting the vulnerable. Half the country refuses to believe that doctors and nurses are telling the truth about the situation they’re dealing with in hospitals.

It’s impossible to get the country to agree on solutions when people are living in alternate realities. No common set of facts.

We made the decision at the end of 2016 to try to stay positive and keep this site focused on the good things happening in the world. Music has the power to make you feel better, even in the shittiest of times. Especially in the shittiest of times.

Looking back over our annual wrap-ups of previous years, I can’t even remember now why we thought 2018 was so bad, but it’s sad to think I couldn’t imagine it getting worse. It could. Much, much worse.

And here we are. At the end of a very bad year. There is some hope on the horizon. A vaccine is being distributed…albeit far more slowly than we were led to believe. We will have a new administration on January 20 despite the efforts of an unamerican, anti-democratic wannabe autocrat. We should all be thankful that our orange fuhrer is as inept as he is; a competent fascist could have easily stolen this election. The fact that our entire democracy came down to the lawfulness of a handful of local officials should make us shudder. Make no mistake: those few decent Republicans will certainly be replaced by unscrupulous monsters in the near future. And then what? Let’s hope we won’t have to find out.

But we made it through. Personally, there were times (weeks, months) where I didn’t feel up to the task of seeking out good new music to share. I just couldn’t conjure the energy. But throughout the entire year, our intrepid Stephen Macaulay filed 1,000 words to me every Saturday along with an email summing up his week. These missives inspired me to keep this site alive during a year when it would’ve been excusable to let it lie fallow…or die off altogether.

If you’ve followed GLONO for any amount of time you may have caught on that Mac is of a generation that witnessed the Faces at Cobo Hall. He saw the Stones on the Exile tour. Mac subscribed to the Fifth Estate and to Rolling Stone back when it was printed on newsprint. That is to say, Mac is like the cool uncle we all wish we had growing up, which puts him in a demographic that is more at risk to the serious effects of COVID-19.

Locked down in stricter quarantine than anyone else I know, Mac has carried our site through this year, and for that I will always be grateful.

Let’s all hope the distribution and administration of the vaccine gets straightened out quickly so we can have a shot at seeing each other in real life some time next year. Stay safe, stay healthy, and try to stay positive!

Love,
Jake and the GLONO posse

Continue reading Wrapping up 2020

2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest

As this is my last entry for 2020, I had planned to make it somewhat more, well, positive than many of the things I’ve written of late. Seems that for the past several months I’ve been writing about the consequences of COVID-19 on our music and our lives, and very little of that has had a proverbial silver lining. Then in the months before that it appeared that I had become the official Glorious Noise obituary writer, a dubious distinction at most.

But then I learned that Leslie West had died. I will confess that I am not a fan of Mountain, that I never found “Mississippi Queen” to be particularly engaging. It sounds to me like a variant on something that Lynyrd Skynyrd might have done. Or perhaps Def Leppard. Whereas the former are from Jacksonville, Florida, and the latter from Sheffield, England, West was born in New York City and was raised in Hackensack, New Jersey. Go figure.

The little interest that I had in Mountain was a result of the participation of Felix Pappalardi, whose name was familiar to me from his production work on Cream’s Disraeli Gears, as I was—and continue to be, albeit with a different fervor—a big fan of Cream. So if Pappalardi worked with West, it had to be worthwhile. But that didn’t really work in my estimation, even though I was arguably predisposed to like the band.

Of the members of Cream it was—and continues to be—Jack Bruce for me. He was one of the most innovative and accomplished bass players of the 20th century, and if you do an eye roll and think of “Sunshine of Your Love,” I suggest you give a listen to “You Burned the Tables on Me” from his third solo album, Harmony Row, or the work that he did with Kip Hanrahan. Then your eyes may open wide.

One of Mountain’s minor hits (or I guess for it the adjective can be removed) is “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” a cover of a song written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, which originally appears on Songs for a Tailor, Bruce’s first post-Cream solo album—produced by Pappalardi.

Pappalardi left Mountain and was replaced on bass and vocals by. . .Jack Bruce. Or at least a newly named band was created in 1972, West, Bruce and Laing. (Corky Laing played drums in Mountain, so the band wasn’t too far away from the original.)

In my estimation this was one of the bad choices that Bruce had made in his career, but presumably he was looking for a revenue stream. What is odd is if you listen to the solo album that Jack Bruce released after leaving West, Bruce and Laing, Out of the Storm, you’ll undoubtedly conclude that Bruce’s talent was wasted playing with West. (When Bruce went out on tour in support of that solo album, he enlisted Mick Taylor to play guitar: that is more of a balance of talent.)

Bruce formed the Jack Bruce Band and Jack Bruce & Friends during the 70s and 80s, but ended up collaborating with Robin Trower on two albums, B.L.T. (presumably that would be for Bruce, Bill Lordan (drums) and Trower; it is interesting to note that on the cover of the album, the font size for Trower’s name is significantly bigger than the other two) and Truce (in this case, Lordan was gone and just Bruce’s and Trower’s names appear on the sleeve, in the same font size). As for these two records, even though Trower, a remarkably capable guitar player, is a good foil for Bruce, they strike me as being somewhat mediocre.

Bruce became something of an itinerate musician, playing with all manner of musicians, some good, some questionable. He died of liver disease in 2014.

Pappalardi? He died of a gunshot wound in 1983. His wife was convicted of negligent homicide.

Of the two more famous musicians that he played with: Ginger Baker died in 2019 (Bruce and Baker collaborated in a band with guitar player Gary Moore—BBM—which released an album, Around the Next Dream, which for some odd reason features a picture of Baker smoking a cigarette (naturally) and wearing angel’s wings: Clapton is god but Baker is a seraph?); Clapton is still with us.

Which brings me to the positive subject that I’d planned to write about, the Save Our Stages Act, which is a $15-billion part of the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress. One of the main sponsors of the bipartisan bill is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota—she worked with Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a stalwart Republican and evident music fan. On December 21 she took to the Senate floor and stated, “And this was about — yes, Nashville and New York, but it was just as much about the Fargo Theatre or a small small country music venue in Texas. And while we see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines, we know that it will be quite a while before these businesses which operate on such thin margins as it is can keep going.”

Continue reading 2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest