This week in music: higher education from the music geek.

Fun (and sometimes bizarre) facts I learned this week, plus some water-cooler knowledge straight from my noggin.


George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney of the Beatles, the subject of a new Masters program from Liverpool Hope University. Photo courtesy of




Well, I know what I’m doing after college now…

This week in 2009, Liverpool University started offering a very specialized Masters program – on THE BEATLES!  Liverpool Hope University is quoted as saying one course in particular, the analysis of sound and compositions of Beatles music, is probably the first of its kind in the world.  No kidding.  It’s not like any university in New York is offering doctoral degrees for people who do their dissertations on the rhetoric and poetics of Bruce Springsteen or something.  Anyway, this is amazing news. I want to get a degree in the Beatles.  How cool would that be on your resume?  “Yes, I got my undergad in Sociology, and I am a master of the Beatles.”  Watch out, Liverpool – here I come!


It was good while it lasted…

This week in 1983, a brand new digital audio system was launched – the compact disk!  Don’t get too excited, in 1983, they were REALLY expensive.  The first CDs were upwards of fifty bucks, and it’s not like there was a plethora of great music available in 1983 – I mean, besides Michael Jackson, your top 1983 options were Patti Austin and James Ingram, Michael Sembello (whose album cover is ridiculous), Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, and Irene Cara.  Although CDs were a hell of a lot better than 8-tracks and cassettes, it is nice to live in a time where I can have instant access to my 94,867 iTunes tracks from a little gizmo in my front pocket.  I don’t think I could carry all of those CDs around.


Taking one for the team…

This week in 1975, Paul McCartney was pulled over for running a red light in Los Angeles.  The police officer caught a funny smell coming from the car and searched it, finding 8 ounces of pot.  Even though by 1975 it was common knowledge that Paul and his Beatles buddies were good friends with Mary Jane (judging from the pictures of them toking in India with Ravi Shankar), guess who got arrested?  Linda, his wife.  I bet he had to take the trash out a lot after that one.


Night at the Improv…

This week in 1994, Nirvana played their last concert ever at The Terminal Einz in Munich, a small airport hangar.  When the power went out, the band played an impromptu acoustic set.  I was never a huge Nirvana fan, but that’s pretty good showmanship.  It is also neat to know that even Nirvana listened to other bands for influence.  During the unplanned set, the ultimate grungers played “My Best Friend’s Girl” by the Cars, and also “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” by Tiny Tim.  Okay, I made one of those up, but it would have been cool.


I’d be impressed if it was a month an inch…

This week in 1969, Jim Morrison of the Doors was charged with “lewd and lascivious behavior” after showing his penis to the audience during a show in Miami.  He was found guilty and sentenced to eight months hard labor, but died while his lawyers were still appealing the charge.  I guess the slow legal system in this country probably didn’t bug him all that much.

Reasons to be a tenor…

This week in 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, “Mikado,” premiered in London.  This may not sound familiar to you, but it should be.  The Mikado is 1) in English, 2) hilarious, and, if you’re a tenor, 3) action-getting.  When I did opera scenes for the Eugene opera, I learned about the benefits of being a tenor in the Mikado, and you should too.  If you are the tenor (Nanki-Poo), and the soprano (appropriately named Yum-Yum) is attractive, you will look forward to the song, “Were You Not to Koko Plighted.”  There is a great section of this song where there is actual kissing written into the song! Nanki-Poo is surreptitiously professing his love for Yum-Yum, who is to be married to Koko (hence the song title).  He is saying that IF she weren’t engaged to Koko, he would woo her.  A lot.


“Were you not to Koko plighted, I would say in tender tone:

‘Loved one, let us be united; let us be each other’s own. ‘

I would merge all rank and station,

Worldly sneers are not to us.

And to mark my admiration,

I would kiss you fondly thus.”


THIS is where the ACTUAL kissing starts.  Go watch this scene and imagine you’re the tenor – it’s very exciting, I promise.


Do YOU know the words?

Christina Aguilera just messed them up, but she’s not the only one.  Go ahead, tell me all the words to the national anthem.  There is a reason your grandparents might not know the tune.  This week in 1931, “Star Spangled Banner” became the official national anthem.  If you need a refresher course, here you go:


Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light (how are you doing so far?)

What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming.

Whose bright stripes and bright stars,

Through the perilous fight (or flight, for many people)

O’er the ramparts (what the hell is a rampart?)  we watched (maybe it’s porn)

Were so gallantly (adv: bravely) streaming.

And the rockets red glare,

The bombs bursting in air.

Gave proof through the night,

That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled (v: SPARKLE!) banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free (Switzerland?)

And the home of the brave (hold for 3 minutes)


Maybe it’s time for an updated version or at least one that we recognize all of the words to.



This week in 1963, Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash in Dyersburg, Virginia.  Like The Day the Music Died, some other musicians were killed in the crash.  Lesser known fatalities included The Cowboy Cops and the Hawkshaw Hawkins.  Cline was  famous for being the first country singer to cross over as a pop artist (take that, Taylor Swift!). They were traveling to Nashville to appear at a benefit concert for DJ ‘Cactus’ Jack Call, who had died in a car crash.  Adding to the carnage, another country singer, Jack Anglin was killed in a car crash on the way to Cline’s funeral.


Born This Week

Brian Jones – Rolling Stones guitarist

Jimmy Dorsey – big band leader, brother of Tommy

Gioacchino Rossino – opera composer (Barber of Seville)

Harry Belafonte – Banana Boat Song – DAY-O!!!!!

Jerry Fisher – vocalist for Blood, Sweat, and Tears (AMAZING group)

Roger Daltrey – singer for The Who

Kesha Rose Sebert – K$sha – I don’t even want to know.

Justin Bieber – do you have the fever?

Frederich Chopin – wrote a million etudes, songs that teach you something.  Learn something – listen to some Chopin.

Glenn Miller – “In the Mood” bandleader

Karen Carpenter – why couldn’t they sell her house?  There was no kitchen.  (The music geek is going to hell).

Jon Bon Jovi – I think he’s from Styx…

Tone Loc – give me that Funky Cold Medina!

Antonio Vivaldi – his “Four Seasons” will make you weep.

Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok

Rimsky-Korsakov – “Flight of the Bumblebee” composer.


Died This Week:

Patsy Cline – mentioned above.

Frankie Lymon – at age 25!

Dusty Springfield – “Son of a Preacher Man” singer

Jeff Healey – blind guitarist – look up “Angel Eyes.” Played with EVERYBODY.

Johann Pachelbel – His “Canon in D” stands the test of time.

Doreen Waddell – Soul II Soul singer who died when hit by a car while running from police.







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