Author Archives: Alan Cross

The Wife Says: Bring on The Hunger Games

December 26th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Only a tidbit about The Hunger Games could rouse me out of my turkey tryptophanic-induced post-Christmas languor.

T-Bone Burnett is producing the soundtrack and a companion album for the movie based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel.

The first single, Taylor Swift’s "Safe and Sound," was released over the holidays and shot to number one on iTunes. It’s moody and a lot more mature than the rest of her stuff. The Decemberists and Arcade Fire also have also collaborated with Burnett on songs for the movie.

Sheet Music? Not a Good Business to Be In

December 26th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

A hundred years ago when the concept of recorded music was still science fiction to a lot of people, sheet music--printed arrangments of popular and classical tunes--ruled.  That industry was analogous to what we later saw with the recorded music business.

Over the decades, though, fewer and fewer people (outside of those taking music lessons) bothered with sheet music.  The peak of the market was 1934 when 25,000 pieces were sold every day.  It's been downhill ever since.

And the UK Xmas #1 Is…Not Nirvana

December 25th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Since the 1950s, the UK has had an inexplicable fascination with which song finishes at #1 on the singles charts on the last chart leading up to Christmas.  The last decade has been dominated by Simon Cowell wretchedness, only to be interrupted by Rage Against the Machine and "Killing in the Name" in 2009.

This year there was a grassroots campaign to push Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to #1 in time for Christmas in honour of Nevermind's 20th anniversary, but that fell flat.  Instead, the winner is "Wherever You Are" by the Military Wives Choir.

Think Artists Make $$$ on Annual Christmas Songs? Think Again.

December 25th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Great story in the Guardian about how little certain artists make from their hugely-popular Christmas songs.  VERY sobering.

The biggest non-charity Christmas hit in the UK is Mary's Boy Child by Boney M. It's easy to forget how successful Boney M were in the 70s. No other artist has two songs in the UK's all-time top 10 singles chart – Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring at No 5 and Mary's Boy Child at 10.

Liz Mitchell, who sang both songs, now performs as "the voice of Boney M". "You must be loaded," I say when we meet. Mitchell, who has been smiling and laughing, looks as if she's about to break into tears when I mention royalties. Has she worked out how much she makes every year from the Christmas single?

How Did David Bowie End Up Singing “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby?

December 25th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

It was September 1977.  Bowie and his buddy, Iggy Pop, had relocated to Berlin in an effort to clean up and sober up after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse (Bowie maintains he doesn't remember a minute of 1976).  

Although he was in better shape, Bowie was still pretty messed up.  It would be several more years before he really managed to get his act together both personally and financially.

Yet there he was in an LA TV studio rum-pah-pum-pumming with the most famous crooner the world had ever seen.  How the hell did that happen?

The Truth Behind “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

December 25th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Myth-busing stuff from Whatever.

The story of Rudolph is most famously known as a song, memorably performed by Gene Autry in 1949. However, the song is an adaptation of a 1939 poem by Robert L. May, initially written at the behest of the Montgomery Ward department store, which originally published the poem in a coloring book, distributing 2.4 million copies during the holidays.

Despite the light tone of the poem, “Rudolph” is known to be a vicious satire of one Rudy Padgett, a contemporary of May’s with whom the writer shared a bitter, lifelong rivalry. The reindeer’s famous red nose is actually a metaphor for Padgett’s alcoholism, with the other “reindeer” (Padgett and May’s companions) laughing, calling him names and refusing to play with him not because of bigotry but because they were mocking his lack of control around booze.

A Christmas Message from the Smashing Pumpkins

December 24th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Just in case you're not on the mailing list, here's what the Pumpkins and Smashing Pumpkins Record Club sent out last night.

Merrie Holidays & Happy New Year!

As a thank you for supporting the Smashing Pumpkins Record Club (SPRC) this year, Billy went digging in the vaults and found this beautiful holiday song called Have Faithe, Be Merrie. We hope you enjoy it!

Facebook Wants to Become Your Ticket Vending HQ

December 23rd, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Back in the day, we had to line up to buy concert tickets.  I vividly recall standing in line overnight outside some box office just so I could be assured of getting into a gig.  On other occasions, I shlepted to a local record store and waited until the owner opened the placed.

Later, it was possible to make ticket purchases over the phone.  Once you got past the busy signal, you talked to a real, live person who took your order.

When the Internet came along, we ended up doing the ticketseller's work for them on websites that didn't always seem to cooperate.  We're still doing that now, although it's seems like something of a sham. Anyone who's ever tried to buy tickets when they're supposed to go on sale at 10:00:01 AM only to find that the arena is already sold out knows what I'm talking about.

Now Facebook, of all companies, wants to sell us concert tickets.  Their ticketing app is called Ticketfly.

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