This Machine Kills Fascists:
The grandpappy of American folk, Woody Guthrie, is set to be honored on the centennial of his birth in 2012 with an archive and museum in the late singer-songwriter’s native state, Tulsa, Oklahoma, reports the New York Times. Best connected to the penning of “This Land Is Your Land,” Guthrie told timeless allegorized tales of dust-bowl depression-era woes that would wind up back-boning a new folk movement in the 60s after his death, most famously succeeded by Bob Dylan, of whom started his career by tracking down his idol during his final days in NYC. The George Kaiser Family Foundation is gearing up to throw $3 million at the Gurthrie estate for an archive of a plethora of notebooks, sketchbooks, artworks and scraps of paper Guthrie cut lyrics on, to be unveiled at a March 10th kickoff ceremony. The saddest part about all this: Guthrie never figured out how to write musical notation. So many a melodies have been silenced.
Name That (Hit) Tune:
An oversight here at SongLyrics saw us miss the news of a group of scientists over at the University of Bristol purportedly developing magic software that can predict the pop potential of a song. Using “23 separate characteristics including loudness, danceability and harmonic simplicity,” reports the BBC, our favorite quote from a senior lecturer at Bristol close to the project via Dr. De Bie: “We can expect to get it right in about 60% of cases.” “It” being the song’s prospective chart position, trained using stock Billboard hits from the last 50 years. Triumphantly putting record execs at a 10% advantage over a coin-toss, the software cannot account for anomalies involving popularity having nothing to do with musical quality – i.e. Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – though, effectively making the internet the new underground.
America’s Oldest Teenager:
82-years-young television personality Dick Clark will celebrate his 40th hosting of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC from the ball-drop ground zero in Times Square. Launched in 1972 as a youthful alternative to the big-band Waldorf-Astoria crowd that ABC poached composer Guy Lombardo for, the first New Year’s Rockin’ Eve saw riff-rockers Three Dog Night as featured performers amidst Al Green and Blood, Sweat & Tears. While this year will keep with chart-topper trends like Lady GaGa, Justin Bieber (with Santana), Florence + The Machine, among others, with trusty pop persona Ryan Secrest reprising his emcee-aid duties since ABC brought him on to further its youth cred circa 2005.
They Are The Lips:
Also in Okie news, Oklahoma’s resident psych-folkers The Flaming Lips, hot off a prolific year dropping new tuneage in gummy fetuses, recording 24-hour songs and reinventing Christmas space ambi-jams, have taken to in-house production company DeLo Creative to cover The Beatles “I Am The Walrus” (via Stereogum). There are many awesome things about this, chiefly Steven Drozd wrapped in tin-foil on maraca duty. Wayne Coyne isn’t a shabby Lennon, either. It’s many great worlds away from their attempt at The Dark Side of The Moon, anyhow. The cover is a tease of the Lips’ New Year’s Freakout #5 in Oklahoma City, of which they’ll join Sean Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band to cover a few more fab-four tunes. Goo goo g’joob.
The only legit surfer of The Beach Boys lost his life on this day back in 1983, the victim of a drowning accident. Brother to other chief songwriters Brian and Carl WIlson, Dennis was the drummer and veritable pin-up of the bunch, also the rowdiest in drink and swagger. But he also wrote some genius tunes, i.e. 70s ballad “Forever,” and this eerily beautiful swan song, “Farewell My Friend” on his only solo album Pacific Ocean Blue that was played at his funeral, posthumously crooning while being buried at sea, “You take the high road/And I’ll take the low road/And we’ll meet again/Farewell my friend.”