It’s Monday it’s snowing, there’s been no Trump, twitter, twatter, chatter, tittle, tattle, banned and silenced, he seems to have shot his bolt. There’s his squealing pipsqueak, 3rd rate son, more ignorant that the loins that begot him, more childish spoilt brat whining, give the kid a rattle to shake and play with, a ball would be too complex. In a few days, The Real Donald is the Real Loser Candidate in the 2020 US election, no more fake tan, no more promotion of racism, just the Losing Loser, Loooser, Looooooooser, the suited and booted losing loser. He's a loser, okay.
Trump feted, abandoned and hated in an eye’s blink. Stranger times in these strange times. All over the world... music, music swirls through my thoughts, – Sam Cooke may have sung "a change is gonna come", but I don’t think even he, or any reader foresaw COVID 19, scything down masses everywhere, lockdowns, shut-ins, close-outs, sports for TV only. Bands "Zooming", YouTube-ing for money, and then both Bobby Dylan selling all, and Neil "this note’s for you" Young, selling half his royalties to what is really an Investment Bank, "ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke, I don’t sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke". Perhaps Neil should listen to his old songs and not just sell them.
We could be pompous and po-faced, crying sell-out, Judas, traitor, for either or both, but really, these old men, twilight of their lives. Take the cash now, songs some us wouldn’t recognise, and other’s we don’t care about. What’s wrong with selling, looking after family with readies when you’re shuffled off this mortal coil? How many of us, (readers give some SERIOUS thought to this), would NOT do the same? 70 plus, tired of touring, tired of the recording grind, but still got the studio, mid-west ranch, Manhattan pile, Laurel Canyon condo to pay for, $150m (US) buys a lot of ground rent, grass feed and vet’s bills, grand kids college fees, and even in America a lot of your own medical bills.
Does the music mean any less to me? Not really, still love the Neil and Bobby songs I first loved at 16, and still at 60. The songs unaltered, Vinyl, CD, original, artist approved, definitive version(s) are out there, in shops, in the ether, and for some of them, my home’s shelves. But there is something, a slight gnawing of the soul, a sense that a totem of youth, my youth, songs that in my mind, ‘Southern Man’, opened my eyes to darker world, ‘Heart of Gold’ hippy hopes and dreams, songs of drugs and desperation in ‘Tonight’s the Night’ the intensity of love, ‘like a Hurricane’ or the cynicism and my generations hypocrisy and betrayal, laid bare, ‘keep on rocking in the free world’. We may no longer have ‘styrofoam buttons for the ozone layer’ BUT we still have ‘people sleeping in their shoes’. No the fact the money no longer goes to Neil, but to an investment company doesn’t really bother me, the songs have no less meaning, or so I think. But then...then...then...
Looking for songs used in ads on TV? Perhaps the most obvious, and coincidental, Janice Joplin, ‘Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz’, not intended as a advert song, but there we were Cinema sitting, big screen vista, open road, golden sun, silver coupe, sunglasses, shadows, the car, the voice, the song, at least it was written from the heart, and was an original, but even with Mercedes using the song, still a classic, there was a slight – "how could she?" moment (but since she’s been dead for at least 40 years before the advert...), so 'She' didn’t, couldn’t have.
Iggy Pop – 'sold out'? Some would say several times, best / worst / funniest, delete as appropriate... "Lust for life," soundtracked top film, Trainspotting, opening Credits, captures the song’s drug fuelled rebel spirit, don’t give a shit, fuck the world attitude, and now, it advertises, Cruise ship holidays, yeaup, wistful sea gazes, dinning at the Captain’s table, evening idylls and golden sunsets, Ferrero Rocher eating, Krug Champagne quaffing, that’s the extent of your lust for life in 2021. Amongst the retired baby-boomers, (that’s Me), it may be what some aspire to, but, BUT despite Iggy, Cursing in Alaska - it STILL looks shit.
Velvet Underground - Venus in Furs, sado-masochism, leather, whips, and sex, and it sells, yeup Dunlop safety car tires. Slow shots, cars in the rain, what were the advertisers thinking? Safe driving, safe sex, cold rubber? hmmm not sure how that works. But using songs of rebellion to sell safety, reminds me of Iggy pop using The Passenger to sell Volkswaggen, ho hum.
‘Course this is, all over the place, from Motorhead selling Walkers Crisps, to The Clash selling Nissan cars, in some cases it’s easy to see the sales, the artist dead, estate hard pressed for money, who can blame them, not me, at least in the past the artist, and the publishers have had some sort of empathetic quality control. But whatever possessed Steppenwolf to allow ‘Born to be wild’ to sell family cycling on bicycle shaped objects, courtesy of Halfords. For all of these abominations, there are the moments... Levi’s gave us Muddy Waters and The Clash, but Levi’s were ALWAYS rock'n'roll incarnate for people my age. The future may not always be so generous, check Status Quo's - Whatever You Want, used for the Furniture Village's rocknrollin' table chairs and sideboards. The status quo sells.
However for me it’s in politics and campaigns that I see the greatest challenge for the songsters, trying to stop self-absorbed pols from improperly using their work, and the Republicans have form. There has been numerous examples, George W Bush – I won’t back down (cease and desist) Tom Petty; Newt Gingrich - Eye of the Tiger (cease and desist) Survivor ; Donald Trump – Dream On (cease and desist) - Aerosmith. These examples matter, the babyboomers pasts’ are in these songs, our memories, hopes and dreams, purloined, and bastardised, by politicians we’d never support, in most nations it’s us, 20% of the population, that vote, it’s our memories, our old boys’ and girls’ dreams, being trashed, abused and misused by politicians we wouldn’t buy a used car from.
The misappropriation I first noticed with Bruce Springsteen, infamously, 'Born in the USA' was adopted by Ronald Reagan in his election. I've read that Bruce was pissed, like nothing on earth, but it took a while to reign it in. My fear is, there will be even less artist control, it’s not the adverts that leave a sour taste some much as the apparent political sanctioning, principles on sale.
Looking at future contenders, Donald Trump Jnr reportedly loves Laura Brannigan - Gloria, whilst daddy Trump used, or misappropriated:- Queen - We are the Champions, REM - Everybody Hurts(? no more than Donald, surely...), and James Brown – please, please, please (but he always was a Republican) and let's not forget YMCA... The idea of Donald Trump Jr marching across the states, election 2024, to Neil Young’s - Keep on Rocking in the Free World, utterly unaware of the songs deep irony – is too tragic to contemplate. Don’t let them do it Neil, you know you gotta, stop the “musical steal” Neil.
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