“Hey Jude” turns 50


“BETTER, BETTER, BETTER, BETTER, AY!” 

This Sunday celebrates the Beatles longest-running single “Hey Jude.”

Back in June, you may recall that the song’s writer and Beatles icon Paul McCartney appeared on Carpool Karaoke to sing the track at the band’s hometown Liverpool pub.

In this piece, the Smithsonian recounts the epic history of the song, including the fact that the song was originally entitled “Hey Jules.” McCartney’s lyrics were intended to soothe John Lennon’s son, Julian, who was distraught after his father’s affair with Yoko Ono.

Below are some of the other interesting tidbits about the historic tune.

Hey Jude” skyrocketed to the top of the singles charts in the United States and Great Britain in 1968. After an August 26 U.S. release, it immediately arrived in the Top Ten and sat atop Billboard’s Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks, making it the most successful single recorded by the most prosperous band in history. The single sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in six months and 7.5 million over four years. It performed more spectacularly on the charts than any other single between 1959 and 1977. It was also the first release on the Beatles’ own record label—Apple.

Shunning public appearances, the Beatles introduced the song to the world via film and video. The film version premiered in Britain on September 8 on David Frost’s show “Frost on Sunday,” and a month later the video version premiered October 6 in the U.S. on the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”

At more than seven minutes long, “Hey Jude” remains one of the longest No. 1 singles ever. The extended coda—a repetition of “nah, nah nah nahnahnah nah, nahnahnah nah, Hey Jude”—fills the second half of the record. In all, the lyrics use the sound “nah” 240 times.

‘Nah nah nah….’

Adventures in record collecting


The Dust & Grooves Book

Photographer

The Dust & Grooves Book3

The Dust & Grooves Book 4

Photographer and blogger Eilon Paz has put together a book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, which features more than 130 vinyl collectors across the world.

The images are amazing and diverse, ranging from the Italian man who owns the world’s largest collection of colored vinyl records to an owner who collects only Beatles’ White Album records.

Says Paz in an interview with Slate Magazine on capturing the vinyl enthusiasts:

It’s just me and the camera and that’s it. It’s like two friends hanging out listening to records and then I shoot some photos. It builds a very intimate moment between me and my subjects. When they talk about music they lose all their inhibitions. They just really enjoy it.

Vinyl has been having a resurgence the last few years as a reaction to the digitization of everything. As the most famous rock DJ John Peel promptly noted: “Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, ‘Listen, mate, life has surface noise.”

You can buy the 436-page book on the Dust & Grooves website or Amazon.

McCartney drives us through his life in Liverpool on Carpool Karaoke


That’s right, in this clip Paul McCartney looks old. Nearly frail. It’s still him, but he’s a grandpa. Hip, but a bit crotchety when it comes to movement. And you’re not turned off in the least, you want to will him to go on, to never die, to be here forever, because once he’s gone, we’re next.

Lefsetz: McCartney On Carpool Karaoke

Maribou State – Feel Good (feat. Khruangbin)


The duo from Maribou State is back with a new single entitled ‘Feel Good’ from the forthcoming album Kingdoms In Colour. Here’s an excerpt from the track’s review from Pop Bollocks:

There’s a sense of darkness that shimmers around the edges of melodic phrases. “Feel Good” arrives more as a note from a well-wisher, addressing a troubled friend. This isn’t a saccharine celebration. There’s a definite sense of issues that require negotiation There’s something to overcome before good times can be had.

The hookier elements of the track alternate between chopped-vocals, a guitar line, and a bass that doesn’t know where to quit. All aspects sound like a spotlight searching in darkness – shapes are found, discarded, and move ever-onwards. It’s great. At the centre of “Feel Good” lies a beat that breaks and undulates across the tune. The result is a groove that’s hard to deny.

Bonus for the gorgeous cover art.

Birds that make beats


The European Starlings Dennis & Ernie sing in what sounds like some beatboxing collaboration infusing drum n bass, Aphex Twin, and some Miles Davis at the 00:34 mark.

Says one of the owners, Rose Buck:

Over the years they have built up their own personal collection of sounds, words and bird calls, they all have their own preferences and repertoire, it can be anything from ringtones, to all our other birds, our creaky lounge door, lots of things that Rose says to them, laughing, coughing, electronic noises they hear of things working etc, anything basically that takes their fancy, I would guess that each one has a personal repertoire of around 30 to 50 sounds.

Check out the Lloyd & Rose Buck website for more.

Leon Vynehall – ‘Movements (Chapter III)’


‘Movements (Chapter III)’ is another hazy, monumental track from electronic artist Leon Vynehall. Full of shadows and beautiful stillshots, the video is also a gem on its own.

The album Nothing Is Still drops June 15.

The illusion of a sole genius


midsection of man holding hands over white background

Upon winning the MacArthur Fellow award for creating unconvential, immersive opera experiences, Yuval Sharon didn’t feel like he was a ‘genius’ in any sense of the word.

The fellowship is also known as “the genius grant” although the organization steers clear of using the term in its to describe MacArthur Fellows ““because it connotes a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess.” Yuval Sharon felt the same way.

In his LA Review op-ed, he elaborates:

The Foundation probably takes pains to say this because so many people find something deeply uncomfortable about the concept of “genius” — its exclusionary implications and air of elitism; a Romanticism that seems out of step with contemporary (let alone everyday) life; the affirmation of canonical standards set by … who exactly? Any person mature enough to strive for self-awareness finds the moniker embarrassing, and only an unstable narcissist could ever self-apply the title without shame.

Perhaps there are only a few true geniuses: Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, and most recently, Steve Jobs. The author Walter Isaacson has written biographies on all three.

But no genius is truly original, as Brian Eno alludes to. A genius is merely part of what he calls a ‘scenius,’ a community of fellow artists who share similiar interests and collaborate, helping prop up the most notable. Says Yuval:

Moments, ideas, a single poem in a collection — a work of genius, no matter how individually wrought — is never the product of a single individual. We should stop thinking of genius as an attribute and instead start to think of it as a condition, a circumstance.

Genius is social and participatory

This notion of a sole genius reduces the collective nature of people. The world participates in the process of creation no matter how one artist tries to individuate their craft. Yuval sums it up nicely:

I spent part of the day reading about the other Fellows in my class and found myself feeling so inspired by their dedication and accomplishments in fields far removed from my own. The world seemed bigger. This may be where the “genius” moniker is still useful: by calling out examples of how and where the endlessly searching attendant spirit still visits the world. Because anyone, anywhere, can participate in it.

The Record Play app identifies songs based on album artwork


We’re all familiar with Shazam identifying songs by audio. But what about Shazaming cover art?

App experimenter Patrick Weaver created the Record Player app to help match up cover art with music on Spotify. He posted the beta on Glitch.

This is a Rube Goldberg Machine of the Google Cloud Vision API and the Spotify API. After logging into Spotify, upload an image. The image will be sent to the Google Vision API, which will guess what it is. The app will then search Spotify using Google’s guess, and give you the first result to play.combined the Google

Watch how it works below:

‘We never appreciate the music as a whole because we only hear a series of individual notes’


colin wilson, quotes, records, vinyl
via giphy

“We live too close to the present, like a gramophone needle travelling over a record. We never appreciate the music as a whole because we only hear a series of individual notes.”

— Colin Wilson, [easyazon_link identifier=”1939140161″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The Philosopher’s Stone[/easyazon_link]

From hand to sleeve: What does it mean to value an intangible object?


From hand to sleeve, vinyl, sweden, records
Photo by Wells Baum

The tangible items feel like they have more cash value than the invisible digital bits. The sheer abundance of internet items not only shrink their value, they curb our attention. Whether it’s a feed of Instagram images, tweets, or new music playlists, there is simply too many things to pay attention to and not enough time to consume them.

Even though vinyl today is mass produced to meet the growing demands of nostalgic record collectors and millenial hipsters, the magic of vinyl is in its transactional and physical experience. You paid for it and now you have to store it somewhere.

The great thing about record sleeves is that they can also serve as wall art. They’re like real-life square Instagram hanging in your hallway or in your bedroom that also demonstrates your taste.

From hand to sleeve: What does it mean to value an intangible object?

But the awe of tangibility is not restricted just to records. It’s all formats. CDs still create the same return on a relationship with its consumer, at least in Japan. The reason Japan’s CD industry is still thriving is that Japanese fans love to show direct support of their artists; they want to ensure their money talks.

Yet even something as ubiquitous as a coke can create a visceral experience. Access is egalitarian. Said Andy Warhol in his 1975 book, [easyazon_link identifier=”0156717204″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The Philosophy of Andy Warhol[/easyazon_link].

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

It is still possible to tame abundancy and simulate ownership in a virtual environment. Shopping on the music store Bandcamp recreates a record-store experience. Writes music editor Ben Ratliff for the New York Times:

the online music site known for its equitable treatment of artists, and one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time. From it, you can stream music to the extent each artist allows, or buy songs at a price set by the artist — which is sometimes “pay what you wish” — or order physical products from the site. The artist gets 85 percent. Always, the artist gets to know who’s buying, without a third party in the way.

Bandcamp is a mashup of both virtual and physical worlds. Buying and selling Bitcoin feels the same way. What gives a bitcoin value is an assumed relationship between buyer and seller, not to mention the scarcity layered on top of it. There are only 21 million Bitcoins that can be mined. Bitcoin and the emerging interest in blockchain exemplify the shift toward the value on bits and bytes and not just hard goods.

Record sleeves persist because we give physical objects extra value. But the virtual sleeves on an all-access catalog to Spotify library can feel similar. It’s amazing how real things feel when you pay for them 😉

If you’re interested in more reads about vinyl, check out the below:


“Musician, artist, thinker” Brian Eno talks Bitcoin, how ‘simplicity can produce complexity’, and more…


"Musician, artist, thinker" Brian Eno talks Bitcoin, creativity, and more...
Image via © Gabby Laurent/FT

The Financial Times sat down with “musician, artist, thinker” Brian Eno in the studio of his Notting Hill home. Here are my favorite snippets from the interview:

On the transactional value between art and bitcoin:

It is not so different from bitcoin. Art is the ultimate cryptocurrency. What the art world is doing is engineering the consensual value of something, very quickly. It only needs two people, a buyer and a seller.

On fusing music and art vocations:

I had this real struggle inside me, on whether to do music or art. I worried about it a lot. And then one day, I decided I didn’t have to do one or the other, I could do both. I glimpsed the possibility of making each one more like the other, a sort of fusing together.

On ‘how simplicity can produce complexity’:

When I first came up with the idea of utilitarian music, it was very, very unpopular. It meant muzak. It was music reduced, stripped of its fundamental cultural importance. And that was my biggest hurdle. Artists were supposed to want people’s 100 per cent attention.” What interested him instead was, “what was the least that I could do with music; how much could I leave out? What if I made music that was just like an atmosphere?

He criticizes pop musicians for being too close-minded, using the metaphor of a light bulb: “nobody looks at the bloody bulb. And that is what has been happening in music. We’ve been looking at the bulb.”

Eno illustrates the complexity from simplicity theory on paper by drawing out what it isn’t. He draw a pyramid and inserts lines from top to bottom:

This is God, or the Pope, or the orchestra conductor. And information flows this way only. There is no feedback, other than something dramatic like a revolution.

The symphony: it is inspired by the divine; it enters the composer’s head; he writes it down and passes it to the conductor, and then the leaders of the orchestra, then the section principals, and then down to the rank and file. There is this idea that the music is already in existence, in the mind of God or the composer, and it is our purpose to realise it.

Now, as a working musician, I know it doesn’t happen like that. I have seen a lot of music come into existence. It is a mess. It is a lot of complex things bouncing off each other, until suddenly something beautiful and intricate exists. It wasn’t in anybody’s mind. Nobody had conceived it up to that point.

“Musician, artist, thinker” Brian Eno talks Bitcoin, creativity, and more…
Image via © Gabby Laurent/FT

On the left’s provincialism and the urge to speak out against the rise of nationalistic tribes:

“But now there is engagement with politics. I have so many American friends, they were so apolitical. Politics was something you never admitted to doing, like masturbation. But that has changed now. We all thought these [Trump and Brexit supporters] were this little bubble of weirdos. But we discovered that we were the ones in the little bubble.”

If you’re interested in more Brian Eno reads, peep the below:

Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London


Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London

3 new vinyls p/mo based on your music tastes 💕, Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London
3 new vinyls p/mo based on your music tastes 💕

Alex Bartsch spent the last ten years photographing the original locations of some of his favorite UK reggae vinyl covers from 1967 to 1987. Holding each sleeve up to arm’s length, he meshes the past and present of London’s surroundings.

While Googling came handy, what he found in his research was that most of the shoots took place outside the record label offices themselves. He told Huck Magazine:

“It often starts with the information on the record sleeve but many of them don’t offer much to go on. I have learned through doing this project that a good place to start is the area where the label was based. Sometimes it was just outside the door of the record label.”

Some of the artists included in his book Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London include Bob Marley & The Wailers, Alton Ellis, Peter Tosh, Delroy Wilson, and more.

Snag a copy on One Love Books here or on Amazon UK.

Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London, peter tosh

Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London

Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London

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Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London

Photographer Alex Bartsch retraces reggae record sleeves in London