Marble Machine built and composed by Martin Molin
Video filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson
Costume designed by Angelique Nagtegaal
Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?
Why country music makes you cry, and rock and roll doesn't: A musical interpretation of divided America.
The big idea in this episode that there is a bigger divide in America that falls along musical lines more than political ones is quite intriguing and fits in with my general experience living in South Carolina, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, and California. Having been raised by a Catholic family with one parent from the city, another from the countryside, and having lived in many blue/red states surrounded by people of various different musical tastes, I do have to wonder if there isn’t a lot of value in this thesis. It could make an interesting information theoretic political-related question for research. This might be the type of thing that could be teased out with some big data sets from Facebook.
Beauty and authenticity can create a mood. They set the stage, but I think the thing that pushes us over the top into tears is details. We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.
He then goes on into a nice example about the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses:
And specificity is not something that every genre does well.
This reminds me of a great quote in Made to Stick from Mother Theresa about specificity.
Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
There’s something very interesting about this idea of specificity and its uses in creating both ideas as well as storytelling and creating emotion.
There is one related old country music joke I’m surprised not to have seen mentioned here, possibly for length, tangential appropriateness, or perhaps because it’s so well known most may call it to mind. It plays off of the days of rock and roll when people played records backwards to find hidden (often satanic) messages.
Q: What do you get when you play a country music song backwards?
A: You get your job back, your wife back, your house back, and your dog back.
The episode finally rounds out with:
If you aren’t crying right now I can’t help you…
Thanks Malcolm, I was crying…Syndicated copies to:
In 1984, Elvis Costello released what he would say later was his worst record: Goodbye Cruel World. Among the most discordant songs on the album was the forgettable “The Deportees Club.” But then, years later, Costello went back and re-recorded it as “Deportee,” and today it stands as one of his most sublime achievements.
“Hallelujah” is about the role that time and iteration play in the production of genius, and how some of the most memorable works of art had modest and undistinguished births.
And here I thought I knew a lot about the story of Hallelujah. I haven’t read any of the books on its history, nor written any myself, but this short story does have a good bit I’ve not heard before in the past. I did read quite a bit when Cohen passed away, and even spent some time making a Spotify playlist with over five hours of covers.
The bigger idea here of immediate genius versus “slow cooked” genius is the fun one to contemplate. I’ve previously heard stories about Mozart’s composing involved his working things out in his head and then later putting them on paper much the same way that a “cow pees” (i.e. all in one quick go or a fast flood.)
Another interesting thing I find here is the insanely small probability that the chain of events that makes the song popular actually happens. It seems worthwhile to look at the statistical mechanics of the production of genius. Perhaps applying Ridley’s concepts of “Ideas having sex” and Dawkin’s “meme theory” (aka selfish gene) could be interestingly useful. What does the state space of genius look like?Syndicated copies to:
An anthology of some of the greatest music stories never truly told.
This eight-part series includes a look at the FBI investigation into a classic rock anthem, unheard conversations with Captain Beefheart, a critical examination of New Edition’s basketball connection and the chronicle of a man plucked from Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash and thrust into country music stardom.
h/t Kevin Smokler
Wonderly – “The Daily” theme song
The Daily is the New York Times’ daily news podcast, hosted by Michael Barbaro. In this special edition of Song Exploder, composers Jim Brunberg & Ben Landsverk (aka Wonderly) break down how they composed the show’s theme song. You can listen on the New York Times website at nytimes.com/dailysong, or below:
footnotes:Theme to HBO’s Westworld, by composer Ramin Djawadi (hear his Song Exploder episode on Game of Thrones’ theme song here)
A fantastic little podcast breaking down music. I always wish I knew more about music and structure and have some real appreciation for analysis like this. I’m considering subscribing to the rest of their content. Interestingly this looks like the same host as The West Wing Weekly. I suspect this may be how I came across it originally.Syndicated copies to:
Sung at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" is the most-recorded gospel song ever. NPR's Linda Wertheimer speaks with Dr. Michael Harris, a professor of history at Union Theological Seminary, who has written extensively about the song's author, gospel musician Thomas Andrew Dorsey. NPR 100 Fact Sheet: Artist: Words/music by Thomas A. Dorsey; Interviewees: Michael Harris, Union Theological Seminary; Recordings Used: Take My Hand Precious Lord, Mahalia Jackson
A stunning bit of history in this little mini episode. I always find myself wishing they’d do about 10-15 minutes of the history and a bit less of the song, though this episode did rightly have several covers of it.Syndicated copies to:
Stamp moves tracks and playlists across various services - Apple Music, Spotify, Google Music and others!
How awesome this portends to be! I’ve been wanting this type of functionality for a long time. I’m curious how long it stays up?
Too many music services don’t make it easy to transport your playlists as it’s one of the methods they use to lock you into their service (and their recurring subscription fees). It looks like it supports .csv formats, but it would be nice if there were a better standardized data format to let users own all of their own data. How great would it be if I could maintain my own playlist on my own website and then authorize services to access it to play what I wanted? Then I could have one central repository and take it to any subscription service out there.
It looks like it supports Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, Pandora (Pro only?), Amazon Music, Groove, YouTube, rdio, Deezer, and Tidal.
Syndicated copies to:
In honor of tomorrow’s release of Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman’s book A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, I’ve created an Information Theory playlist on Spotify.
Songs about communication, telephones, conversation, satellites, love, auto-tune and even one about a typewriter! They all relate at least tangentially to the topic at hand. To up the ante, everyone should realize that digital music would be impossible without Shannon’s seminal work.
Let me know in the comments or by replying to one of the syndicated copies listed below if there are any great tunes that the list is missing.
Enjoy the list and the book!Syndicated copies to:
The layoffs cut the streaming music site’s work force by about 40 percent and could be a way to make it more attractive to a buyer.
Yet another reminder to own your own data and have your own website. Exporting and hosting all this data won’t be easy and if it goes under, it’s a huge hole in the internet.Syndicated copies to:
A system of seven Earth-like exoplanets appeared to be unstable. Now their orbits have been rewritten in the music of the spheres.
I’m not sure there’s necessarily a correlation between the physics and the music other than that it’s a relationship. Perhaps there’s some interesting example one could drag out for category theory perhaps?Syndicated copies to:
SoundCloud Downloader is a simple online tool for downloading any music tracks from SoundCloud. It's free and very easy to use and you get high quality mp3 for any track. Just paste the track page link in URL field above and hit the download button. It extracts the track uri(hosted on SoundCloud's server) from which you can directly download or save the mp3 track in one click. Make sure you paste only one url at a time, in the above input box.
I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion as part of an Intersession course by the Johns Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program. I hope fellow alumni in the entertainment and media sectors will come out and join us in Culver City on Thursday.
Join the Hopkins in Hollywood Affinity Group (AEME LA) as they welcome Linda DeLibero, Director of the JHU Film and Media Studies Program, and current students of the program for a dynamic evening of networking which features an alumni panel of industry experts.
Open to alumni, students, and friends of Hopkins, this event is sponsored by Donald Kurz (A&S ’77), Johns Hopkins University Emeritus Trustee and School of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board Member, and the Hopkins in Hollywood (AEME LA) Affinity Group.
Event Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Start Time: 6:30pm
End Time: 8:30pm
Donald Kurz, A&S ’77
Jason Altman, A&S ’99
Jason Altman is an Executive Producer at Activision working on the Skylanders franchise and new development projects. Prior to Activision, he spent the past 5 years at Ubisoft Paris in different leadership roles, most recently as the Executive Producer of Just Dance, the #1 music video game franchise. He is a veteran game producer who loves the industry, and is a proud graduate of the media studies program at Johns Hopkins.
Paul Harris Boardman, A&S ’89
Paul Boardman wrote The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and Devil’s Knot (2014), both of which he also produced, and Deliver Us From Evil (2014), which he also executive produced. In 2008, Paul produced The Day the Earth Stood Still for Fox, and he did production rewrites on Poltergeist, Scream 4, The Messengers, and Dracula 2000, as well as writing and directing the second unit for Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) and writing Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000). Paul has written screenplays for various studios and production companies, including Trimark, TriStar, Phoenix Pictures, Miramax/Dimension, Disney, Bruckheimer Films, IEG, APG, Sony, Lakeshore, Screen Gems, Universal and MGM.
Devon Chivvis, A&S ’96
Devon Chivvis is a showrunner/director/producer of narrative and non-fiction television and film. Inspired by a life-long passion for visual storytelling combined with a love of adventure and the exploration of other cultures, Devon has made travel a priority through her work in film and television. Devon holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in International Relations and French, with a minor in Italian.
Chris Aldrich, Engr ’96
Chris started his career at Hopkins while running several movie groups on campus and was responsible for over $200,000 of renovations in Shriver Hall including installing a new screen, sound system, and 35mm projection while also running the 29th Annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium “Framing Society: A Century of Cinema” on the 100th anniversary of the moving picture.
Following Hopkins he joined Creative Artists Agency where he worked in Motion Picture Talent and also did work in music-crossover. He later joined Davis Entertainment with a deal at 20th Century Fox where he worked on the productions of Heartbreakers, Dr. Dolittle 2, Behind Enemy Lines as well as acquisition and development of Alien v. Predator, Paycheck, Flight of the Phoenix, Garfield, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I, Robot and countless others.
Missing the faster pace of representation, he later joined Writers & Artists Agency for several years working in their talent, literary, and book departments. Since that time he’s had his own management company focusing on actors, writers, authors, and directors. Last year he started Boffo Socko Books, an independent publishing company and recently put out the book Amerikan Krazy.
Part of the course:
Students will have the opportunity to spend one week in Los Angeles with Film and Media Studies Director Linda DeLibero. Students will meet and network with JHU alums in the entertainment industry, as well as heads of studios and talent agencies, screenwriters, directors, producers, and various other individuals in film and television. Associated fee with this intersession course is $1400 (financial support is available for those who qualify). Permission of Linda DeLibero is required. Film and Media Studies seniors and juniors will be given preference for the eight available slots, followed by senior minors.Students are expected to arrive in Los Angeles on January 8. The actual course runs January 9-13 with lodging check-in on January 8 and check-out on January 14.
|Course Number: AS.061.377.60
Days: Monday 1/9/2017 – Friday 1/13/2017
Times: M – TBA | Tu- TBA | W- TBA | Th- TBA | F- TBA
Instructor: Linda DeLibero