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Chains of Consequences: Musical Windows on the Past

Lemon flavoured

A crass and dangerously inaccurate account.
Location
Hucknall, Notts
Pronouns
He/Him
#2
References in song lyrics are always interesting to me. One modern example that I can think of is the Conor Oberst song Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch), which is (naturally, given the title) full of references to Frank Lloyd Wright, which might be missed.

I also feel like it's worth mentioning Richard Thompson's album A Thousand Years Of Popular Music, which begins with Sumer Is Icumen In and ends, somewhat improbably, with Oops, I Did It Again. Of course theres also Thompson's cynical description of the Summer Of Love from Beeswing ("they were burning babies / burning flags / the hawks against the doves")[1], which is a reference to various contrasts about that era that I think are a bit lost sometimes in references to it.

Theres also Dropkick Murphys song Jimmy Collins Wake, which is about the player manager of the Boston Red Sox team that won the first modern World Series in 1903, and it references several players who probably aren't that well known now days (eg Patsy Dougherty, Buck Freeman). Worth noting that the band didnt write the lyrics, a baseball historian did.

[1]which I once referenced and then didnt explain because I realised that one of the people I was talking to is Vietnamese...
 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#3
Not quite an exact example, but this reminds me of a fun little chain I found a couple of weeks back.

During WWI the left-wing pacifist German-American writer, poet and dramatist Herman George Scheffauer became involved with the German-language newspapers attempting to promote American non-intervention in the war, complete with scathing attacks on Roosevelt and Wilson. Naturally for this he ended up being forced to leave London, refused permission to return to the States, and eventually settled in Berlin after the war.

In Berlin, he hires a young woman Elizabeth Hauptmann, as his secretary. She is a budding writer herself, and through him she meets Berthold Brecht, becoming one part of his frighteningly complex series of polyamorous relationships. She also collaborates on a lot of his early work in the 20s- the Threepenny Opera most notably, but also contributing to a set of poems with a parodic take on contemporary American songs in the form of an English-language text she named 'the Alabama Song'.

These poems end up the core of first a short collaboration between Brecht and Kurt Weil, the Mahogany-Singspiel, before being incorporated into a much larger piece Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahogany, about the rise and fall of a city called Mahogany due to it essentially being Las Vegas on the Alaskan Goldfield and eventually imploding due to disputes between the various groups within it.

Weil sets the Alabama Song, and it gets recorded by Lotte Lenya, then a succession of Jazz artists, then The Doors with a slightly altered melody, before finally Davie Bowie (a major fan of Brecht) records it on the original Weil melody. It's, understandably, a big hit and in a recent renovation the main bar in the lobby of the Watergate Hotel was named in reference to it- The Next Whisky Bar.
 

Ingsoc

Well-known member
#4
One of the reasons we got The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" is, of course, because McCartney can't read music. He was back at his Dad's house and saw his step-sister was learning to play W J Henderson's version. Sitting down at the piano and fancying a go, but not being able to make heads or tails of the sheet music, he just put his own tune to the lyrics. Naturally being 1969 Paul McCartney the tune he knocked out was an instant classic.
 

Thande

But whatever you do, do not, under any circumstanc
Published by SLP
#5
One of the reasons we got The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" is, of course, because McCartney can't read music. He was back at his Dad's house and saw his step-sister was learning to play W J Henderson's version. Sitting down at the piano and fancying a go, but not being able to make heads or tails of the sheet music, he just put his own tune to the lyrics. Naturally being 1969 Paul McCartney the tune he knocked out was an instant classic.
Thanks, I didn't know that aspect of the story.
 

Ingsoc

Well-known member
#6
Thanks, I didn't know that aspect of the story.
If he could read music, or if his sister had been there and played it for him, we'd never have got it. He was just on fire in that period though so might have done something else.
He wrote "Come and Get It" for Badfinger in about an hour when he realised he was seeing them that afternoon and had promised them a song. On the new Abbey Road remasters you hear Paul playing the song through and then immediately asking for it to be played back in his headphones so he could do the harmony vocals on top and finish the demo before Badfinger turned up.

Top 10 both sides of the Atlantic. When you're hot you're hot.
 

Thande

But whatever you do, do not, under any circumstanc
Published by SLP
#7
If he could read music, or if his sister had been there and played it for him, we'd never have got it. He was just on fire in that period though so might have done something else.
He wrote "Come and Get It" for Badfinger in about an hour when he realised he was seeing them that afternoon and had promised them a song. On the new Abbey Road remasters you hear Paul playing the song through and then immediately asking for it to be played back in his headphones so he could do the harmony vocals on top and finish the demo before Badfinger turned up.

Top 10 both sides of the Atlantic. When you're hot you're hot.
It's interesting that a couple of my favourite Beatles recordings (on the Anthology) are them doing recordings of songs they did for other bands and weren't released at the time - you mention "Come And Get It", and another one I like is "That Means A Lot" which was done for PJ Proby.
 

Omund the Wooden-Leg

Chazadjin Marmaduke Brandybuck
#8
As we are on the subject of the Beatles, McCartney dreamed the tune to "Yesterday" and played it to everyone he met; afterwards asking them if they knew the tune, he was afirt he was plagiarising someone. I was mad for the Beatles all through secondary school.