“Songs for Tractors and Toilets.” Wait–What?

As the newly installed head of curation for Songza in Canada (a very fine streaming music service; try it), my head has been swimming with ideas and thoughts for playlists.  I’ve come up with some (I think) interesting ideas but nothing like this.  I may have to give this a look.  Or not.  From Macleans:

Steve Young never expected to become obsessed with industrial musicals, the sub-genre of original Broadway-style shows produced for corporate conventions. Originally, he just tracked down souvenir records of shows like toilet-maker American Standard’s The Bathrooms Are Coming or Ford’s Ford-i-fy Your Future as part of his day job as a writer for David Letterman, so his boss could make fun of them. Slowly, he says, he came to the realization that he was “still humming some of these songs to myself later on, about repairing Beetle engines or selling insurance.
It seemed too good for what, at first, I thought to be just something to make fun of.” That ambiguous attitude is on display in the new book Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals, co-written by Young and Sport Murphy, who met Young when they were bidding against each other for industrial LPs on eBay.
companion website offers some of the songs, like Golden Harvest, an ode to tractors written by the songwriters of Fiddler On the Roof: “Gonna be a golden harvest in 1959! With the new Ford tractors, the future’s lookin’ fine!” And throughout the book, the writers evaluate the quality of every musical they can find, whether it’s Florence Henderson urging car salesmen not to let a customer leave without buying something, or the bluesy lament of An Exxon Dealer’s Wife. “One of my favourites is Follow the Road, for a Dominion Road Machinery, Toronto, 1975 sales meeting,” Young says. “It’s a fantastic musical about road graders. Canada can be proud of that one.”

Keep reading.  Thanks to John for the link.  I think.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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