👓 McGill music student awarded $350,000 after girlfriend stalls career | Montreal Gazette

Read McGill music student awarded $350,000 after girlfriend stalls career (Montreal Gazette)
She wrote an email posing as him, turning down a $50,000-a-year scholarship so that he wouldn’t leave
An insane little story of love and music…

🎧 A Million dollars of plastic | Lost Notes (KCRW)

Listened to A Million Dollars Worth of Plastic from Lost Notes | KCRW

In 1989 McDonald’s ran the biggest flexi-disc promotion ever, sending out 80 million discs (playing the “Menu Song”) as inserts in newspapers all over the country. A very special copy of this record was almost burned to heat a family home in Galax, Virginia. Instead, it ended up winning the homeowner a million dollars.

A heartbreaking story…

This seems to be a micrososm of the new American story in a post-80’s culture: People scraping by in hopes of a big pay day that will save them all, but in the end it does more to ruin them.

📺 Wintergatan – Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles) | YouTube

Watched Wintergatan - Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles) from youtube.com
Marble Machine built and composed by Martin Molin
Video filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson
Costume designed by Angelique Nagtegaal

🎧 Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears | Revisionist History

Listened to Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

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.

Malcolm Gladwell in The King of Tears

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…

🎧 Episode 07 Hallelujah | Revisionist History

Listened to Episode 07 Hallelujah by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

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?

👓 Introducing Lost Notes | KCRW

Read Introducing Lost Notes (KCRW)
Hear a preview of Lost Notes, an anthology of some of the greatest music stories never truly told. Top journalists present stand-alone audio documentaries that highlight music’s head, heart and beat, with host Solomon Georgio as your guide.

Following Lost Notes from KCRW

Followed Lost Notes (KCRW)

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

🎧 Song Exploder | The Daily

Listened to Bonus Episode: The Daily from New York Times by Hrishikesh Hirway from Song Exploder

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.

👓 What Makes This Song Great?: Producer Rick Beato Breaks Down the Greatness of Classic Rock Songs in His New Video Series | Open Culture

Read What Makes This Song Great?: Producer Rick Beato Breaks Down the Greatness of Classic Rock Songs in His New Video Series (Open Culture)
Last night I had dinner at a local restaurant that happened to have a playlist on of great songs from my high school years.

👓 The Songs That Bind | The New York Times

Read Opinion | The Songs That Bind by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (New York Times)
Data drawn from Spotify listeners reveal that we are all teenagers in love.
Apparently our musical tastes are firmed up in our early teens… this explains a lot for me.
Read Muse shares story behind ‘Hey There Delilah’ by Mike Celizic (TODAY.com)
As a nationally ranked runner and an Olympic hopeful, Delilah DiCrescenzo is used to being chased — but by other athletes, not by pop singers from Chicago. But, she said on Wednesday, she doesn’t mind the attention the chase has brought her. “What I really hope through all of this is that it spotlights track and field, and it gives the sport a face, which is really important to us athletes i
Read after hearing song on radio this afternoon and remembering the Olympics coming up.

🎧 ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ | NPR

Listened to 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' by Linda Wertheimer from NPR.org
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.