“It`s not music, it`s a disease.” Mitch Miller on Rock `N` Roll

September 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Music, Top Story

I completely missed it! I apologize. Mitch Miller passed away on Saturday, July 31st, in Manhattan. Mitch made it to 99. I am going to be honest here, I never much DUG Mitch when I was growing up. He seemed to me to be a musty, moldy, BLAST FROM THE PAST, who was incapable of comprehending the dramatic changes that were sweeping our nation.

My assessment is fair, I do believe. Mitch was opposed to Rock `N` Roll! Oh no, Mitch was strictly SQUARESVILLE. But now that I`m older, I can see more clearly what MM did for the music industry. He helped to build up the Columbia record label. Not a small thing. Mitch`s strength was in the category that we know today as LOUNGE. In the late `50s and early `60s it was called something different, as best I can remember.

Easy listening or just plain Pop, I don`t exactly remember? This morning I picked up Tony Bennett`s 1951 No. 1 hit, Because of You, with the Percy Faith orchestra`s beautiful backing. MM convinced Tony to record this one. I love it now, but would have rejected it ferociously when but a rebellious youth. But there are lots of other stories of what Mitch did for some of our favorite crooners, like when he convinced Rosemary Clooney to record Come On-a My House.

I will link for you the obituary in The New York Times, Mitch Miller, Maestro of the Singalong, Dies at 99 by Richard Severo. Good summary of his long, productive career. I enjoy reading it, because it`s a good summary of the entertainment industry back in those days. Mitch rejected the new R & R on moral grounds. You may remember the payola scandal when disc jockeys would take bribes to play R & R records. Follow the bouncing ball, my friend. “It`s not music, it`s a disease.” MM

Have the Grammys ever been a reflection of our times?

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Music

Well the Grammy Awards are coming up on Sunday. Big Deal! But I will still watch them anyway to see who wins. I just found this great piece by Jim DeRogatis that was just published in the Chicago Sun TimesPredicable Grammys reward star power. The Grammys have always taken a conservative (or reactionary) bent, going all the way back to their inception in 1958. Please read Jim`s piece, but he argues that the music awards were created by old stalwarts, like Frank Sinatra and Mitch Miller, to counter the surge of a new phenomenon, ROCK `N` ROLL.

Now that`s a bit of information that`s of some use to me. Hopefully, I will be able to trade out my old cable box on Saturday, for a newer box with the Digital Video Recorder feature. I`ve needed it badly for some time. Then I will be able to record the Grammys and capture Lady Gaga, who no doubt will be pulling a rabbit outta some crazy hat (literally) of hers.

Not that I`ll take the winners too seriously, but for Album of the Year I want the Dave Matthews Band to win (Big Whiskey & the Groogrux King). This year the Grammys can be reduced to three pop divas: Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Who do you love? I think it`s poppycock that only the ‘music elite’ looks down on the Grammys as passe!