The TV/Music Analogy

“The Sopranos” was the Beatles.

There was music before “I Want To Hold Your Hand” hit the airwaves in ’64, before the band was on “Ed Sullivan,” quite good stuff indeed, like the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys, but the Beatles were different, a quantum leap forward, in their wake came a slew of British acts, the so-called “Invasion,” suddenly everybody was picking up an electric guitar, suddenly everybody was listening on their transistor, the same way people are watching television today.

There was TV before “The Sopranos.” Quite good stuff at times, like “thirtysomething,” but “The Sopranos” not only showed TV could be as good as movies, but also something different, it was not limited to ninety minutes, it was a whole series, you got hooked, and suddenly HBO was the go-to, unlike the theatre.

Now after the Beatles came FM radio. Format changes make a difference. FM is like television streaming, it opens up the possibilities! Before FM we were limited to the hit, after FM the album burgeoned, what was in between the hits was suddenly important. Many people didn’t get it at first, they stuck with AM and singles, greatest hits albums, just like many moviegoers pooh-poohed the television revolution. And then came streaming Netflix, along with Amazon and Hulu, and suddenly we were in a golden age of television, it was where the action was, where we all wanted to be. We talked about TV the way we used to talk about records. Everybody had their favorites, you lived to sit in front of the flat screen and consume, and then debate.

Many people resist revolutions. The Beatles, et al, wiped out whole styles of music. Perry Como was no longer on the hit parade, Elvis either, and despite present nostalgia for eras past, the truth is many were left behind as the pioneers went forward. Just like those who still go to the movie theatre, or watch network television in real time today. That’s another breakthrough with streaming, you get what you want when you want it. In any event, the people yearning for the music business of yore have been left behind. Streaming is FM, but only rappers seem to know this, they own the new format.

So we lived through an era of music domination, when TV was square. Then it was all consolidated in the seventies and crashed. But MTV, a new technological breakthrough, gave music new legs. Until videos became extravaganzas and how you looked became more important than how you played. Napster added excitement, but radio stayed behind, is still behind, and then TV came along to fill the gap.

Despite there being over 400 scripted series a year, way too much product, it’s even worse in music. And acts don’t get canceled in music, they keep putting out tracks, vying for attention. The consumer rules, but the consumer has been ignored in music.

So what comes next?

Further consolidation in television. With ultimately a few streaming outlets. And then fewer shows, and fewer payments for those shows, and then, eventually, something will come along to fill TV’s place. Another location to experience story.

What comes next in music? The truth is rap is long in the tooth, and rock is positively calcified. Those deep in the trenches believe if they just slog hard enough they will succeed, nothing could be further from the truth. To capture hearts and minds there must be something different, a new sound. But it’s nowhere to be found. No Beatles who put in 10,000 hours in Hamburg before most people had ever heard of them.

Now in between music and TV came the tech revolution. Everybody bought a computer to play, now everybody has a smartphone to play. But only a few entities control the sphere. We depend upon them, we’re addicted, but the excitement of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries is gone.

After TV becomes consolidated and loses its excitement what follows?

I don’t know. Will it be something we have never contemplated, or a spin on the old?

Music is mature. Corporations own not only the labels, but the touring outfits.

Tech is mature. It’s Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
TV is still in flux. Yesterday’s court decision re AT&T and Time Warner is significant, other shoes will now drop.

But then?

Fauda-Season 2

Are you watching this?

We just finished five seasons of “The Americans.” That’s right, sixty five episodes, I can’t believe it myself. But we cannot see the sixth, unless we’re willing to pay for it, $24.95, that’s never gonna happen, the content companies are bleeding us dry, and it’s gonna be worse when they all merge and they’re the only game in town. We’re going through a great consolidation, with a dash of musical chairs thrown in. The five hundred channel universe…KAPUT! Now there are just gonna be a few outlets, and you’ll subscribe to some or all of them. As for the vaunted YouTube revolution, did you read that article about YouTubers burning out?

YouTube’s top creators are burning out and breaking down en masse

That’s right, it was another canard sold to the youth, a supposedly easy way to make money, a PARADIGM SHIFT, while the big boys, Google and Amazon and Facebook and Apple…took the lion’s share of the revenue and the government supported the rich. You work 24/7 on Maggie’s Farm and they change the algorithm and you’re making less and if you’re dependent upon likes, getting subscribers, working the system, you’re toast. If your talent isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, draw people to it by itself, give up now. And yes, there are those making money unboxing, but that’s like telling you Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of college and you’re just a shot away from being a billionaire. Yeah, right.

And “The Americans” is plot-driven. It’s got few layers, it ain’t that deep, but it does hook you, because of the drama, because Keri Russell BELIEVES!

Do you believe in your mission? Do you have a mission? Are you willing to die for it, like Hamas?

I won’t bore you with the Arab/Israeli rhetoric. The story today is you can’t convince people to change their opinion, even with facts, they’re stuck in their rut and they’re sticking to it. And I know that’s saying the same thing twice but that’s how much they’ve self-reinforced their ideas, living in an echo chamber, but…

“Fauda” is about the Arab/Israeli conflict. On the West Bank. And…

These are not the Jews you anti-Semites think they are. Hell, you could line them up and most would not pick them as Jews. People have no idea what’s going on in the world, especially Americans, because THEY HAVEN’T BEEN ANYWHERE!

Like Israel. Like the desert.

That’s right, it’s not a lush landscape, they didn’t give Jews California’s Central Valley, but the Mojave Desert. But the elements make you feel alive. When you see Doron riding a motorcycle in the sand you think…one breakdown and he could die. What are the risks of you dying, other than by O.D.’ing on opiates? I’d say that’s how far down your life has fallen, but the truth is Purdue wanted to hook you, by saying Oxycontin was not addictive, and then it became so scarce you got hooked on heroin and…

If your life’s in danger, if you’re running on adrenaline, you ain’t got time for drugs. Because…

Doron is a movie star. Not a superhero, not someone buff like the Rock, not a pretty boy like Tom Cruise, but a male who attracts you through attitude and action. He’s doing the right thing, as if nobody is watching, and then he does the wrong thing and everybody is watching and they blame him. He can’t win. But he’s fighting for more than stripes on his uniform, which none of them wear, he’s all about a CAUSE!

People need causes in life. And they need to do something about them. Being anti-Trump is not a cause. Getting out into the field and changing America is. The FBI is a cause, but now it’s been denigrated. We’ve lost our way.

But we’re addicted to television.

So, waiting for the next season of “The Americans” to appear on Amazon, we dove into season two of “Fauda.” Felice wants to stop, it’s too violent, the characters are not likable.

But that’s my kind of show. I hate when people say they can’t relate. Is entertainment just escapism? How about eye-opening, how about instructive, how about making you THINK!

Everybody’s into the formula. Everybody likes a happy ending. But it rarely turns out that way, you get cancer and you die. Or you live long enough to find out you’re irrelevant. What is life about? Damned if I know. But the longer I live I understand actions of the past, I can see why people become revolutionaries, lay their lives on the line, die for the cause, because other than the cause, WHAT IS THERE?

We’re threatened in the U.S. By the racist right and the corporations. Save me your bile, if you don’t agree, why are you reading this? You think your e-mails of denial are gonna convert me to your side? You’re just demonstrating your ignorance. I read “The Wall Street Journal,” I listen to Fox on the satellite, it all makes me laugh, you’re so busy demonizing “The New York Times” you don’t even read it, and there’s a hell of a lot more news there than anywhere else.

But you’re dug into your trough. Like Hamas. Hamas doesn’t want peace, doesn’t want a solution, unless it means Israel no longer exists. Is Israel perfect? No. Has it made mistakes? Yes. But when someone says you have no right to exist, you fight back, irrelevant of what the naysayers claim.

And “Fauda” is about this tension. You can enjoy it, if that’s the word, whether you know anything about the Arab/Israeli conflict or not. Although you’re gonna have to read subtitles. That’s a threshold in dumbed-down America, if you’ve got to read, you’re out. But the world is based on words, written ones, it’s why Trump is such a bozo, he doesn’t, read that is. And his grammar is terrible. People judge you on this, you should know, and right now Trump is winning and the liberals are letting him and the whole damn situation, the whole damn country, no longer makes sense.

So we turn to entertainment.

But there are more forms than laughable comedies, superheroes and mindless dreck. There is stuff that wakes you up, that gets you in touch with your humanity, that gets you to question your behavior.

Like “Fauda.”

P.S. Shirin tries to resist Doron, but she cannot. If she were American, Laetitia Eido, would get a nose job, but her honker here just makes her more attractive, she’s unique, like you, like me. We’re all different, but we’re all the same, that’s the conundrum. We despise each other but we cannot get along without each other. And what stimulates us, keeps us going, is love.

Paul Rodgers-This Week’s Podcast

Playlist

ALL RIGHT NOW!

That’s right, this week’s podcast guest is the voice, vocalist extraordinaire, PAUL RODGERS!

I remember distinctly driving in my mom’s Country Squire on the way to the Yale Bowl for a Herman’s Hermits-headed revival concert (the following week it was Led Zeppelin!) and hearing the mellifluous sound of this track emanating from the dashboard, some cuts you only need to hear once to get, to love, to have them seared into your brain. And as great as Paul’s vocal is, the secret ingredient is Paul Kossoff’s guitar-playing, an axeman Paul considers to be the best ever, and Rodgers has worked with Jimmy Page and…

And while I was ensconced at Middlebury I sent away for a free A&M sampler album entitled “Friends” that contained the Free cut “I’ll Be Creepin’.” You should check it out on the above-linked playlist, it’ll get under your skin, especially when Paul croons “I’ll hold you in my arms/Like nobody else,” you’ll swoon. Be sure to check out the rest of the Free tracks included, most were not hits, certainly not in the U.S., but hopefully they’re the blueprint for a resurgent blues-rock sound in the United States, there’s genius here.

And then…

We couldn’t get enough of their love.

Mick Ralphs? He was overshadowed by Ian Hunter in Mott The Hoople, wasn’t he just a sideman? Turns out, anything but. That track jumped out of radios across America in the summer of ’74, just after I graduated from college, but my favorite cut from the initial LP is the title tune, and I love “Seagull” almost as much, Paul talks about both of them here, as well as having the band’s name first.

And as big as that initial Bad Company album was, the second, STRAIGHT SHOOTER, was even BIGGER! This is the one containing the monster, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Baby, when I think about you
I think about love

And then comes the staccato of that machine-gun guitar and…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE… FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE…FEEL LIKE MAKIN’ LOVE TO YOU!

And the follow-up album, “Run With The Pack,” opens with the anthem “Live For The Music,” that’s my theme song…

Some people say I’m a-no good
Layin’ in my bed all day
But when the nighttime comes I’m ready to rock
And roll my troubles away

And right after that…

SIMPLE MAN!

Freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me

Ain’t that the truth. I’m a square peg in a round hole, I don’t fit in, the only place I feel comfortable is in the grasp of a record, which understands me. I hear “Simple Man” and I picture myself atop a mountain, viewing the vast landscape, feeling peaceful and powerful, this is the Bad Company song I sing to myself most.

And Bad Company went on to have more hits. Paul ultimately worked with Jimmy Page, Kenney Jones, Queen and so many more. And despite being ignored by the cognoscenti, he resides in the heart of every dyed-in-the-wool rock fan, talk about being unjustly excluded from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, that ridiculous institution, Paul Rodgers and his bands are the EPITOME of rock and roll, and if you’re a listener, you know it.

So sitting down with Paul was a great thrill. Because he’s still got it, his intellect and his voice and…listen to him croon herein. Hell, the Bad Company show at the L.A. County Fair is the best one I’ve seen this decade, the one I enjoyed most, the one that got me out of my brain, that tore away my everyday problems, that had me thrusting my arm in the air believing that music was enough to base an existence upon, that I’d won at this game called life.

That’s the power of music.

That’s the power of rock and roll.

THAT’S THE POWER OF PAUL RODGERS! HE MAKES US FEEL FREE!

Listen to a snippet here:

Listen to the podcast:

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Acast

The Kissing Booth

Used to be it was records that percolated in the marketplace and steadily grew off the radar, now it’s television shows, specifically “The Kissing Booth” on Netflix. Heard of it? I HADN’T!!

I get this e-mail from this Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield, he’s younger than his picture depicts, and today he’s going on about this Netflix movie “The Kissing Booth,” which is #9 most popular on IMDB:

Most Popular Movies

Distribution is king. The platform is the medium. Netflix serves up what it believes you’ll like based on viewing habits and then…

You spread the word.

We haven’t seen anything like this since the late sixties, when the youthquake diverged from the mainstream and ultimately took over the culture. But then these youth grew up, the so-called baby boomers, and ruled, and now they think they know everything, BUT THEY DON’T!

I read three newspapers cover to cover every day. Never mind checking their apps multiple times a day. And I’ve never ever heard of this movie.

But I do have to read every Sunday about weekend theatrical grosses, WHICH ARE COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH! Turns out some of the potential audience is going out, but most are staying home in front of the flat screen, watching flicks that totally elude the mainstream.

Also on IMDB “Kissing Booth” star Jacob Elordi is the #3 most popular actor/actress and Joey King is #7, and I’ve never heard of them!

Males/Females (Sorted by Popularity Ascending)

Furthermore, with 125 million subscribers, and about 300 million viewers, some Netflix shows have reached 40-50 million viewers. This dwarfs theatrical, this even dwarfs cable. What is going on here?

First and foremost, Netflix allows you to share your account. It’s the opposite of the music business with CD copy protection and demonization of listeners.

And despite Spotify customizing playlists, nothing seems to organically grow from them. What I mean is we all have different Discover Weekly playlists, so nothing blossoms. Although Spotify does track skip and save rates and if you gain traction you can move up the playlist hierarchy and become a hit, but it seems like it’s all hip-hop, nothing left field has broken through, why, is there just too much product? Or must Spotify dig in deeper and make tracks from other genres hits?

But one thing we know for sure is the public has detached from the gatekeepers. People are not doing what we expect them to, never mind what we tell them to do.

We haven’t seen this paradigm since the ’80s, when “Eddie and the Cruisers” was on HBO and the soundtrack went nuclear. Turns out more people saw it on cable than ever went to the theatre.

Now more people are seeing it on Netflix.

And Netflix is based on data. Not only whether you start a series, but whether you stop it, and when. Does HBO have any of this data?

No!

P.S. “The Kissing Booth” has a lousy critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, of 17%%%! Although the audience score is 72%. Proving that critics are out of touch with the audience, the public doesn’t care about critics and online ratings are less important than buzz. The Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes is higher, 72%. You might ask why not in the nineties, if the movie is so popular. That’s because it’s a phenomenon and everybody’s aware of it, watches it and wants to weigh in. Not everyone agrees, but everyone in the demo is watching!

P.P.S. Are you about the money or the cultural impact? If it’s about the latter, you’re better off on television, most specifically Netflix. The small screen is no longer a second-class citizen, that’s the BIG SCREEN! And never forget, it’s about audience, the more people you reach, the bigger and more lucrative your career is in the long run.