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2008: In Memoriam

“There are so many little dyings that it doesn’t matter which of them is death,” wrote esteemed poet/ author Kenneth Patchen. Yet the accrual of such dying over the course of a calendar year belies such “little”ness. As we nudge into the 21st century, the luminaries of the previous one begin to wane, the architects and innovators of prime American music forms: blues, jazz, folk, rock. The obituary page for 2008 may not feature so many marquee names, but the crucial people behind the stage—the gurus, the producers, the poster artists, the record executives, the session men—all continued to vanish as well.

We lost studio drummers like Earl Palmer and guitarist Robert Ward, Phil Spector’s engineer Phil Levine, jazz photographer William Claxton, Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, Thelonious Monk saxophonist Johnny Griffin. Number groups diminished by one, be they the Count Five, the Four Tops, the Dave Clark Five, or the Kingston Trio. Here are a few of the folks-–some well-known, some never heard of— whose work and influence created a great resonance here and whose efforts will hopefully continue to reverberate in the generations to come.

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“There are so many little dyings that it doesn’t matter which of them is death,” wrote esteemed poet/ author Kenneth Patchen. Yet the accrual of such dying over the course of a calendar year belies such “little”ness. As we nudge into the 21st century, the luminaries of the previous one begin to wane, the architects and innovators of prime American music forms: blues, jazz, folk, rock. The obituary page for 2008 may not feature so many marquee names, but the crucial people behind the stage—the gurus, the producers, the poster artists, the record executives, the session men—all continued to vanish as well.

We lost studio drummers like Earl Palmer and guitarist Robert Ward, Phil Spector’s engineer Phil Levine, jazz photographer William Claxton, Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, Thelonious Monk saxophonist Johnny Griffin. Number groups diminished by one, be they the Count Five, the Four Tops, the Dave Clark Five, or the Kingston Trio. Here are a few of the folks-–some well-known, some never heard of— whose work and influence created a great resonance here and whose efforts will hopefully continue to reverberate in the generations to come.

More »

No. 3: A Very Musical Presidential Election, Presented By VHS Or Beta

I contributed a few blurbs to Spin‘s October feature “Strange Bedfellows,” which detailed the odd nexus where rock music and politics convene. One entry was about the first copyright-snubbing cut-up artist Dickie Goodman and his 1973 assemblage “Soul President Number One.” In it, the first “soul” president is elected, quotes Barry White and the Temptations, and appoints Superfly to head of the FBI. Here’s Dickie’s skewed take on the 1980 presidential campaign:

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I contributed a few blurbs to Spin‘s October feature “Strange Bedfellows,” which detailed the odd nexus where rock music and politics convene. One entry was about the first copyright-snubbing cut-up artist Dickie Goodman and his 1973 assemblage “Soul President Number One.” In it, the first “soul” president is elected, quotes Barry White and the Temptations, and appoints Superfly to head of the FBI. Here’s Dickie’s skewed take on the 1980 presidential campaign:

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Daft Punk Turn Down The Volume

Ed. note: It’s time for another installment of “VHS Or Beta?”, where Andy Beta looks at the music behind the movies–from preserved-by-Criterion classics to completely inane summer blockbusters. In this installment, he looks at the recent film by the Frenchmen Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo, Daft Punk’s Electroma:

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Ed. note: It’s time for another installment of “VHS Or Beta?”, where Andy Beta looks at the music behind the movies–from preserved-by-Criterion classics to completely inane summer blockbusters. In this installment, he looks at the recent film by the Frenchmen Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo, Daft Punk’s Electroma:

More »


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