Famous for… well, nothing… nothing at all


I keep having troubles with music these days.

And the problem can be summed up in a simple concept: I’m not hearing much that seems like it will be memorable, important, memorable, well-regarded, memorable… and did I say memorable?

Yes… Adele… I understand.

She’s beyond incredible. Breathtaking… awesome… makes you believe in angels and miracles and all of the beauty in the world.

And she is an exception.

I ask you to try this… (1) Select any artist recording hit songs today. (2) Randomly pick ten people. And by ten people, selected at random, I mean men and women, different ages, at work and at a restaurant and at the grocery store and at random. Not a bunch of people that all listen to the same music being approached about their favorite musician. (3) Ask them to name four or five songs from that artist.

My guess is that most of us won’t be overwhelmed by positive results. For roughly twenty years, most hit songs simply haven’t been that memorable, and even the biggest names in the business don’t connect the same way with audiences. So… biggest names… and the majority of people knowing more than a song or two… not going to happen.

(Again… Adele… the exception.)

Back in 1967, the Beatles released an album called Magical Mystery Tour. And I have said before, that record is a completely unrecognized diamond.

Walk up to any singer, songwriter, band, etc., and say the following: “I’m here with an offer. If you sign right now, your best album will be in content and quality the equivalent of the material on Magical Mystery Tour.” Once you tell them the songs on the album, I guarantee every one of them will sign.

Not convinced?

Of course you’re not. Heck… Magical Mystery Tour isn’t even close to being one of the five best or most significant albums recorded by the Beatles. It’s virtually a throwaway. It’s not Revolver or Rubber Soul. It’s not Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band… not Abbey Road… not The Beatles (you know… The White Album). It isn’t thought of like their movie soundtracks Help! or A Hard Day’s Night. It’s not one of the early albums that introduced John, Paul, George and Ringo to the world.

But I said it’s virtually a throwaway. Is it really?


The track listing includes: “Magical Mystery Tour”, “The Fool on the Hill”, “I Am The Walrus”, “Penny Lane”, “Hello, Goodbye”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “All You Need Is Love”.

Now… yeah… the album wasn’t recorded entirely as many of their albums were. Some of those songs came from other projects, or had been released as singles and found a home on that project.

Still… I repeat my challenge… most musicians would be absolutely fine with their best personal body of work reaching the levels of Magical Mystery Tour.

They just don’t make them like the Beatles any more.

Which leads us to Tony Orlando.

My parents had the chance to see Orlando perform recently. And Mom wanted to know what I knew about him and whether or not he had been performing at all with Dawn at any point in the past four decades. So I started thinking about him, and…

Here I was considering a man that had recorded “Candida”, “Knock Three Times”, and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”. I knew that already. Also knew about the television show and the Freddie Prinze friendship and more.

But, I had been in one of my “current music stinks” moods. Suddenly I was thinking about a guy that was the singer of three pretty decent songs. You know those songs. Right now, if we burst into the chorus of any of those three you could probably sing along. You definitely know the music well enough to hum them.

Now, let’s toss in “Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose”.

Tony Orlando… no struggles… four memorable songs.

We certainly don’t listen to music in the same way that we used to. Yes… radio is still around. Yes… people are appearing on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live and all sorts of special segments of different prime time programs. We even still buy albums.

But it’s not the same.

When it comes to music, we obtain, consume, distribute, listen, watch, share and more, in ways that were beyond any thought a generation ago.

Here’s a funny test though…

If you showed me a listing of the top three to five songs from any week, or any year, between say 1960 and 1990, my guess is I would know just about every song. (And for several of those years, I wasn’t even born yet.) Now, I’m sad to admit, that often I can’t match an artist to a song, or even say for certain that I know a song by hearing its title.

What does that mean?

I’m not sure.

But when I hear the media craze for bands like New Kids On The Block, The Jonas Brothers, and One Direction… a craze that always seems to speak of comparisons to the Beatles… I chuckle.

If any performer is entertaining their fans… may not be my cup of tea… more power to them, and I tip my cap. And some of them are recording damn fine music.

Still… forty years from now… virtually none of them will have a Magical Mystery Tour to their credit. (And most will not have a career that includes the equivalent of “Candida”, “Knock Three Times”, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” and “Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose”)

But, I suppose, all of us have a shot at our own fifteen minutes.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com