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Amazing Stories in and of Themselves

By Jason Gross

  • Susan Hogan Albach: "Music Pirates Copy Christian Tunes, Too" (The Dallas Morning News, April 20, 2004)
    Should religious musicians turn the other cheek against downloaders? Will downloaders remember, "Thou Shalt Not Steal"?

  • Frank Athrens: "Fox Calls For Court Review of Standards" (Washington Post, December 4, 2004)
    Granted that the headline alone is howl-worthy, but pity the poor Congress who has to balance their love affairs with both the media giants and the conservative moral guardians, standing in opposition to each other about fining broadcasters for indecency.

  • Ellen Barry: "Bluesman's Son Gets His Due" (Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2004)
    Robert Johnson's son is found and actually paid royalties!

  • John Borland: "Music Rebels Seek to Tame P2P" (CNET, November 16, 2004)
    After setting the music industry on its ear with Napster, Shawn Fanning now looks to control the monster he created. What an entrepreneur.

  • Suw Charman: "Listen to the Flip Side" (The Guardian, July 22, 2004)
    Yet more proof that the RIAA has purposefully flubbed data to prove that downloading is killing music. Not that such revelations would stop them from continuing to perpetrate their line, mind you.

  • Rupert Christiansen: "Farewell to the Era of the Perfect Opera" (Telegraph, November 3, 2004)
    Sad, and perhaps appropriate, that classical operas won't grace the studios anymore. It's interesting to think that the idea of opera hasn't lost its luster with the pop world though: cf. Drive-By Truckers, Green Day, etc.

  • Michael Coren: "Simple Download, Complex Change" (CNN, August 23, 2004)
    "An example (of failed music marketing) in the Wall Street Journal described a $2.2 million marketing campaign for an Irish singer whose album sold 378 copies in its first few months." Rumors are that the singer in question was MCA's Carly Hennessy, who, according to John Wu at Blue Audio, "was supposed to be the next Britney."

  • Hugh Davies: "Hey Mr. Lingerie Man" (Telegraph, April 7, 2004)
    Suggestions that Dylan's lingerie ad may be explained by a 40 year old joke. "Asked in 1965 what might tempt him to sell out, Dylan replied: 'Ladies undergarments.'"

  • Jonathan Duffy: "The Right To Be Downright Offensive" (BBC, December 21, 2004)
    Just in case you thought that only America has problems and issues with free speech and the right to artistic expression. Should we now have a "right to offend"?

  • Jennifer Frey: "Politicians and Celebrities, Making Sweet Music Together" (Washington Post, December 6, 2004)
    Bush and Cheney boogeying to Kid Rock? Well, they're all Republicans. Also, glad to see them honor a nice bleeding heart like Warren Beatty.

  • Robert Gore-Langton: "I Know What Made Mozart Tic" (The Telegraph, October 13, 2004)
    The great Amadeus was long rumored to have Tourette's but who knew that his farting obsession helped to manifest so many of classical music's greatest hits? Does that make him so far removed from 2 Live Crew? Are any ensembles planning to add "Lick Out My Arsehole" to their repertoire?

  • Ryan Grim: "Who's Got the Acid?" (Slate, April 1, 2004)
    Answer: "These days, almost nobody." Ever think that only stupid old farts thought there was a direct connection between drugs and rock? How about a study that says that acid consumption has declined in America thanks to the Dead and Phish calling it quits?

  • Alan Hubbard: Why Mozart is 'Better Than Drugs' for Sport" (The Independent, April 11, 2004)
    "Before every workout there should be 10 to 15 minutes of classical music at a slow, easy pace, so that exercise begins at a low pulse-rate to aid the blood flow to the muscles."

  • Emmanuel Legrand and Nigel Hunter: "European Copyright Clock Ticking on Elvis Hits" (Reuters, July 16, 2004)
    Oh my god, quick, somebody pass a Sonny Bono/Disney copyright law in Europe before Elvis's back catalog becomes public domain!!!

  • Gail Mitchell: "Vibe Vows Award Show Return in 2005" (Billboard, November 29, 2004)
    In the aftermath of the music awards show where a fist-fight and stabbing broke out, Vibe magazine president Kenard Gibbs had some sage words: "Taking street mentality to resolve conflict and bringing it into entertainment and sports has gone unchecked. All of us within the culture have to look at this and develop some means of accountability." Later, he vows, "We still have faith in the (urban music) culture. We will rise above and endure." Amen.

  • Jennifer Ordoņez: "Rock Til You Drop" (Newsweek, August 9, 2004)
    It’s funny and weird, though probably not surprising, to hear that graying rockers now need bland diets, trainers, and health insurance to keep up with their active lifestyle.

  • Hilary Rosen: "How I Learned to Love Larry" (Wired, November 2004)
    If this pompous, self-deluded industry hatchet-woman can see the light in copyrights, maybe there's hope for the rest of the music biz. Rest assured, however, that her love is less than platonic and more practical; she knows that her old hard line stance is doomed.

  • Ian Sample "Great Composers Scored on Language" (The Guardian, November 20, 2004)
    Music doesn't just have a national identity because of subject matter: it's also borne out of language, its rhythm, cadences, and unique peculiarities.

  • Ethan Smith: "Concert Biz Still Ill With Summer Flu" (Wall Street Journal/Journal Gazzette, November 21, 2004)
    Who's to blame for overpriced concert tickets? Artists who are getting less CD revenues and have to pay off alimony, that's who.

  • Emily Sogn: "The Stamp of Approval" (Alternet, November 29, 2004)
    The Postal Service (the band) is sued by the Postal Service (the government agency) but instead of the usual capitulation in the face of lawsuits, they all play nice to promote each other. A touching tale that should be a model for other bands and businesses. Would the same happen to the bands United States of America, or Chicago, or Boston?

  • Bruce Springsteen: "Chords of Change" (New York Times, August 5, 2004)
    Not exactly a mystery that he's a lefty but it's surprising to hear him come out so directly.

  • Caroline Sullivan: "News For Rock Critics: No One Is Listening To You" (Guardian, December 1, 2004)
    Comparing the tradition of critics' year-end top ten lists with what's hot on the charts. Once again, the twain doth not meet and we're shown to be elitist snobs. When will the great unwashed learn?

  • John Sutherland: "What's Wrong With Teaching Rap in Schools?" (The Guardian, July 5, 2004)
    Academics argue about studying Tupac as literature. It was surely the same way when Dylan and the Beatles started making their way into syllabi. Too bad the author here tries to have it both ways on the debate too often. "Why is it there? Principally, the authorities argue, because it gets kids reading--and, just like marijuana, it leads on to the hard stuff, like Shakespeare." Chris Rock joked that kids never said, "I'm gonna get my read on," but could this actually change things? Not just getting rap fans to read but also getting students who didn't appreciate rap to see it as literature ain't a bad thing.

  • Peter Svensson: "CDs, DVDs Not So Immortal" (USA Today/AP, May 6, 2004)
    CDs rot after a while? So much for the original claim that these little discs would provide "perfect sound forever." Contrast that with news that scientists have found a way to preserve the music on old vinyl records.

  • Bob Thompson: Parents Group Fights Indecency 1 Bleep at a Time (Washington Post, December 27, 2004)
    Self-annointed guardians of decency, the Parents Television Council, finds itself in a bind as their agenda to promote what they see as "moral values" is being trumped by the economic agenda of the Republicans who were supposed to be their breathren. Bottom line: money beats values.

  • Dominic Timms: "'Nipplegate' Fails to Rouse U.S. Parents" (The Guardian, September 24, 2004)
    Nice to see that even Janet Jackson and Howard Stern know what a diversion this is from more important things.

  • Unknown: "Ashlee Simpson's Fans Can Trade In CD" (Yahoo News/AP, November 15, 2004)
    Don't like Ashlee anymore just because your worst fears about her being a plastic pop star made you and your hero a laughing stock? Now, you can trade her in for some "quality" music! That would include Elvis Costello, The Ramones, X, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell or Brian Wilson. But who will give us trade-ins for Plant's solo albums, Costello's Goodbye Cruel World, or most of the Dead's '70s studio albums?

  • Unknown: "Company Sells MP3 Gun" (Avanova, March 2004)
    Wonder if that's what the RIAA will now use to persecute those pesky downloaders...

  • Unknown: "Hip-Hop Generation Agenda: More Than Music and Style" (The Black Commentator, July 1, 2004)
    Jeff Chang's coverage of the Hip-Hop Convention (see super-scribing) was more impressive but this is notable if only for this claim: "In one of the great ironies of African-American cultural history, Black radio finally embraced hip-hop in the early Nineties--precisely when the huge corporate record labels shifted to gangsta rap...A&R executives put great pressure on rap acts to become more 'real'--a word that became a euphemism for egregiously profane and abusive language." Can anyone out there confirm that last sentence?

  • Unknown: "Net File-Sharing Doesn't Hurt Most Artists--Survey" (Reuters, December 5, 2004)
    As you read this, you can almost hear the rumbling of the RIAA press machine, rushing to dispute such heresy.

  • Unknown: "Paid By the Note? Don't Be Ridiculous" (The Guardian March 25, 2004)
    "A group of German violinists are demanding more money--because they do more work than the brass." Will Tower of Power, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Chicago have to implement retroactive pay cuts now? Happily, in May 2004, the fiddle players decided to wise up and drop the lawsuit.

  • Unknown: "Radio 3 Plays 'Silent Symphony'" (BBC, January 19, 2004)
    Chris Cutler: "What is amazing about the whole thing is that half a century later there is the same incomprehension and confusion surrounding it, as if this were some kind of wild and weird thing. Doesn't say much about the place of art in mainstream life."

  • Unknown: "Scientists: Humpback Whales Sing at Supper" (CNN, May 6, 2004)
    They have an eight-octave range, can improvise--and gracefully--easily playing music to attract mates. If there isn't such a thing as species envy, there should be, and we should have it (note also that they don't hunt us or threaten our atmosphere).

  • Unknown: "Scott Weiland Threatens Magazine Writer Over CD Review" (Blabbermouth.net, April 29, 2004)
    As Will Hermes notes, "Jon Caramanica's in better shape getting into trouble with rock stars rather than the rappers he usually writes about; they have a tendency to follow through on their threats."

  • Unknown: "Scott Weiland Slams MTV" (Riftrock, August 1, 2004)
    Some of Scott's best writing, even better than his rant above. Hope he'll put this to music. "MTV News, now fodder for hungry maggot offspring of the fat executives who don't give a fuck that my wife and children are embarrassed and shamed by your continuous lies and lack of journalistic integrity. Are you so bored with my personal happiness that you hover like carrion lying in wait, meditating and concocting a headline that you only hope will happen? Feed off of your own fat fuckers!!! This goes for all media whores!!!"

  • Unknown: "Simpson Opts for Extra Help Because of Acid Reflux" (MSNBC, October 26, 2004)
    Poor Ashlee. Just when everyone thought her sister was the pathetic one...After she blamed her band and her throat problems, I was dismayed that she didn't follow the RIAA and blame the consumers (or better yet, sue them).

  • David Ward: "Ragtime Banned as Council Cuts Out the Noise" (The Guardian, April 20, 2004)
    Can you imagine what they'd do to a hip-hop crew?


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Jump to the section of your choice:

Introduction

1. Super-Scribing Awards: Best Writing of the Year

2. Superior Scribing Awards: Other Great Pieces of Music Journalism

3. Non-Music/Musical Stories: Great Writing About the Other Arts

4. Amazing Stories in and of Themselves

5. The Ignoble Prizes: Worst Music Writing of the Year