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Christmas One More Time, X

Continuing, in our series of the finest Christmas music, brought you through efforts of the staff at The Media Bunker and the kindness of Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time, IX

Another in the tradition of our truly great, very carefully curated Christmas Playlists, brought to you streaming in high def audio via our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time, VIII

The theme: More for the Holidaze. Here’s more Christmas music, courtesy of our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time, VII

More of the season’s best holiday and Christmas music. Enjoy, through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time, VI

And the beat goes on….the sixth Christmas One More Time (COMT) playlist for the season, brought to you through the magic of our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time IV

Another day, another playlist. This one (again) available on Spotify. Turn it on and turn it up. Happy Holidays.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify.  Click the play button the playlist and then you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) or take advantage of one of their specials which provide access to the Premium version which has a few extra features the freebie doesn’t have –wider selection and no commercials. Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and thanks to our friends at Spotify for enabling the embed music link. 

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Christmas One More Time V

The fifth in a series of our carefully curated Christmas Playlists.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did). Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like holiday music. Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. We thank Getty Images for sharing. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

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Why We Love Christmas Music

The Inside Track 
Why does Christmas and Holiday music always seem so magical?
The easy answer is….it’s traditional. It’s something we look forward to, something we expect, a tradition with which we are all totally familiar. And now, of course, there are more channels for Christmas music than ever before–from CDs, radio, satellite radio, streaming internet sites, TV music channels, even the music beds for commercials (Coke does a great job of breaking new Christmas songs via TV commercial).
If you want to hear some Christmas music, you have a lot of options, starting in early November and running through New Year’s.
Christmas music comes out of the box once a year and when it does, one resonates with the sounds of holiday seasons past, stirring warm memories, and it’s all good. And Christmas itself is tied to your past memories. During the Christmas season, the events of the past year pile up like leaves on a just raked fall lawn, just in time for holiday retrospection and New Year’s resolutions. And, of course, Christmas itself is something of a depository of your entire life history and that of your  family. It’s where great memories from the past are remembered and retold again and new memories for the future are created. And it all needs a sound track.
Music is very good at that—bringing back memories. Five bars into “My Girl” by the Temptations and suddenly you’re back in the fraternity house at a post-game party, squeezing someone tight with one hand and holding a drink in the other.
But the resonance of music with memories may not really be the impetus behind our affection for holiday music.
Perhaps the real reason is that Christmas/holiday music is a known commodity—my goodness, we’ve been listening to the stuff since we were old enough to recognize sounds—and each year we hear a huge group of new interpretations of Christmas music (every hot recording artist puts out a Christmas album, shamelessly promoted by artist and record company alike) which serves to both enlighten us about the potential of individual expression and to make old songs new. “New water over old rocks” a mountaineering friend of mine calls it and I think that sums up the situation pretty well.
The tradition builds on itself every year, as new favorites emerge, new interpretations shake up the Christmas music landscape, time passes and the meaning and affection for the season evolves and changes.  And, Christmas music cuts across a lot of demographic lines: young, old, rich, poor, white, black, urban, suburban, country. It’s a unifying soundtrack for a unifying season and even when you know the song, you may still be surprised at the rendition, interpretation, or production.
The re-casting of traditional songs combined with the influx of new soon-to-be favorites produces a warm and memory-filled soundscape for the season.
So turn it on, play it loud, enjoy the memories and build some new ones.
It’s Christmas music–one of our very best traditions.

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The (Secret)History of Christmas Music

This holiday season, in addition to new posts, material, and videos, we are revisiting some of the greats of Christmas past. When the Media Bunker staff started sorting the Christmas posts, they discovered tons of holiday themed articles and posts…dat’s alot. So, no need to keep it all tucked away in a digital cloud….might as well bring it out again..it’s a tradition. First up, the rather amazing history of the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”…..it’s a lot wilder than you would suspect. Enjoy. And Merry Christmas (and don’t forget…The famous Christmas One More Time playlists start posting on 1 December 2019.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. Elmo and Patsy.
The Hunt For New Music: It wouldn’t be a Christmas without a Christmas novelty song. The story behind this one is even more wonderful (And weird) than the song. Recorded by the then- husband-and-wife duo of Elmo ( Shropshire) and Patsy (Trigg), it was released in 1979 in the San Francisco area, their home. Over time, the song was played on more and more stations across the country and by 1984, it became a national hit; in 2000 the song was turned into a TV special. Oddly enough, Patsy does not sing or play an instrument on this song, which could just be the reason the couple divorced after the song hit it big. Elmo, however, has ridden it to a very amusing kind of holiday fame as each yule season he does tons of radio and TV interviews (in 2005, he was on 11 TV shows and did 150 radio interviews). Last year, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” was sold on 200,000 CDs in retail stores and—get this—downloaded over 100,000 times as a ringtone, which gives the term ringing in the season a totally new and perverse twist. Elmo is Dr. Elmo Shropshire, Veterinarian, which might explain why he knows so much about the homicidal behavior of reindeer.0

The Fine Print: Posts produced by The Media Bunker and Perception Engineering, all rights reserved (c) 2019 donald pierce and Southchester Group LLC. Need original or focused content for your site, send an email to admin@donaldpierce.com and someone will get right back to you, despite the fact that’s the Holiday Season.

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Christmas One More Time III

The third in our series of seasonal playlists. You can listen to the playlist via our friends at Spotify, who provided the appropriate links below.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did). Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like holiday music. Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. We thank Getty Images for sharing. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

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Christmas One More Time II

The second in our series of hand-selected and carefully curated Christmas Music Playlists. You can listen to the playlist via our friends at Spotify.

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify via Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like music, Holiday or otherwise. The holidays are a great time to discover a lot of great new music. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker. 

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Christmas One More Time I(COMT I)

The Hunt For New (Christmas)Music:
For over a decade, I’ve been putting together a Christmas playlist.
The goal is simple: Introduce friends to new Christmas music they probably haven’t heard, or old Christmas music performed in a new version by a new artist or reprising some traditional holiday songs. In the spirit of Christmas, it’s time to share these lists, all of them, starting with the very first playlist. There are now 17 lists in total and they will be posted every few days starting on  December 1st. Along the way, we will toss in some Christmas classic videos, with music and videos and Christmas themed post running all the way up to Christmas day, 2019.
It’s the season for great music–Christmas and otherwise–so spread the spirit of the season by playing and sharing. These Christmas lists are are available for you to listen to now, on Spotify. Click the link and you can play from the Spotify embed.

 

You can enjoy the entire playlist through the courtesy of our friends at Spotify via Spotify’s excellent web player. Special note: when you click the link, you will be taken to Spotify’s web player. There, you’ll have a couple of choices: sign in if you currently have a Spotify account; or signup for a free Spotify account (you’ll be glad you did) Here’s that link Either way, you should check it out if you like music.  The holidays are a great time to enjoy a lot of great music. Enjoy…and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to DJ Tschugge for compiling the list, along with the team at the Media Bunker. 

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Beazely Design Awards 2019

We have a long-standing love affair with all forms of design here in the Media Bunker, and in particular with architecture, graphic, and industrial design. So, it was with great joy when we noticed that the overall Winner of the Beazely Design Awards for 2019 was a map that explored the dimensions of Amazon’s rather amazing Alexa device, a machine that combines Artificial Intelligence, speech recognition, the internet, music, and several other capabilities into an easy-to-use device that can fill many of your daily needs, including a few you didn’t know you had.

As media pioneer, America’s Cup winner, and entrepreneur (and Media Bunker/Perception Engineering fav) Ted Turner once said, “it ain’t as easy as it looks”.

So, here it is: a map that explains the anatomy of an AI system.

Give it some time. We can almost certainly guarantee that the next time one of your friends wants to talk about AI or Alexa or any of Amazon’s “Echo ” devices, you will be the most prepared intellectually. Enjoy.

The Fine Print: Link courtesy of DesignMuseum.org, from the 2019 winners of the Beazley Designs of the Year. Photo courtesy of Getty News, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in any manner. We thank them for sharing. Post produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering, with copyright (c)2019 held by Southchester Group LLC.

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Can Colin Kaepernick Still Play In The NFL

Kap’s back. Or is He. Read FiveThiryEight.com’s reasoned, fact-based analysis of the activist/former QB

Last weekend, ex-NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick participated in a workout that was originally designed to showcase his talents for NFL teams that might need a quarterback, more or less immediately. Kaepernick, or “Kap” as he called by announcers and team mates, was staging the workout in conjunction with the NFL; he has not played in the league in three years and in the past has made a case against the league for “blackballing” him because of his political activism (i.e. he kneeled during the playing of the national anthem at football games to protest police brutality). Pretty heady stuff for a player who once took a team to the Super Bowl. Kap eventually filed a suit against the league for various grievances and it was settled in his favor (he got lots of money) and contends that he now wants to play in the NFL again, but is not being allowed to because of his beliefs and potential activism. His position on playing and the league’s reasons for him not playing are a subject of much debate and will not be taken up here, but it’s important to know that at the time he quit playing for the San Francisco 49’ers he had a contract offer on the table (he didn’t think it was good enough and so decided to see what free agency would bring). Which was nothing, partially because he could be considered “disruptive” to a team’s discipline but more likely because he was 1-10 won/lost in his last season as a starter for the 49’ers and so not exactly a sure thing winner.

There are lots of disputing viewpoints on how Kaepernick’s “tryout” went but the simple fact of the matter is it did not go well, did not take place at the schedule venue, involved a last minute dispute on participation waivers, and lost a lot of the scouts who had traveled to see it because of the location switch. So, on a lot of fronts and all sides–the NFL and Kap and his advisors–share some responsibility for an event that botched (amazing to me that his reps didn’t clear ALL the paperwork before scheduling the “workout”…something anyone involved with sports and events should do as a matter of professional guidance).

But no need to rehash the present with emotional viewpoints, but instead to get a totally unbiased, unemotional take on whether or not the guy can still play. For that, we turn to this video, produced by the gang at FiveThirtyEight.com (you need to follow them) which details how the former pro quarterback would rank with today’s QBs. Click the link above and enjoy an unsentimental look at a player whose time has probably passed.

The Fine Print: Video produced and courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com via YouTube..this video has not been altered in any way; all rights belong to their respective holders. We thank FiveThirtyEight.com and YouTube for sharing. You should follow them–they have the numbers for the life we lead now and are masters of the art of statistics. Their take on Kap and his potential today is realistic and unemotional and intelligent. Well done. Post produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering. donaldpierce.com is (c)2019, donald pierce.

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Enough

Embed from Getty Images

Really–enough is enough. Here are some (but certainly not all) people, places, and things that have worn out their media/cultural/societal welcome. You may be familiar with some or all of them, but–even if not–take it from us, we’ve heard and/or seen way too much of them recently and they should bug off.

The current list:

Lavar Ball, Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, LiAngelo Ball and the failed Big Baller Brand 

Rudolph Giuliani

CBS Morning News Staff Shuffles

Boeing 737 Max management team

“Breaking News” lead-ins

$250 basketball shoes

Any Kardashian 

Instagram “Influencers”

College Admissions Scandals

“Stable Genius” self-pronouncements (from those who can’t spell)

NFL Players Behaving Badly

Think how much better your life would be if you never hear of any of these people, places, or things again. Cut them out of your attention span. 

Enough.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday for many Americans. While the common assumption is that the favorite holiday is Christmas, that’s not necessarily true. Although most of us love the Christmas season, the holiday itself –Christmas, The Big Day–is full of stress, expensive, all-too-often -demanding (on both diet and finances and travel) , something to be survived vs. enjoyed. The expectations are just too high.

Thanksgiving, however, is a totally different deal. You can enjoy a great meal with friends and family (just remember: no politics at the dining table), listen to the seasonal music and watch the seasonal TV shows, catch a great holiday sporting event, and emerge relatively unscathed from the event (except for a few extra pounds).

And so, in the spirit of brotherhood and fine food and wine, we have decided to promote a little Thanksgiving thought-piece: if you could have your choice of anyone in the world to share that once-a-year Thanksgiving meal with, who would it be. The idea is to gather a group of your own best and brightest and fill out the table. The format is simple: a dining room table with room for 8 guests. That’s a manageable number of guests. That means eight chairs to be filled. No relatives, please..you can see them another time and that’s too easy a choice for this project. Instead, make a wish list of the people you’d like spend a few hours with: entertainers, writers, leaders, businessmen, sportsmen, athletes, commentators, artists, comedians. It’s your table, you make out the list. Have at it and send your Ultimate Thanksgiving Guest List to us at the Media Bunker. (admin@donaldpierce.com).

The top 5 lists get published–judging is based on the thoughts and preferences and, dare we say it, intellectual bias, of the staff in the Media Bunker and at Perception Engineering. But–and this is important–every list will be read and pondered. A few ground rules: everyone you would invite has to be alive at the time the list is prepared, highly charged political figures are to be excluded (we get enough of that in daily life), and the invitees have to actually exist (i.e. you cannot invite a Chewbacca or some other tv/movie character). Your list should contain eight names, spelled correctly, with a note to the side about who they are–college professor, novelist, film director, writer, religious leader. All entrants receive a free, one year subscription to donaldpierce.com (which is, as you’ve noticed, already free but it does sound nifty. The form is below. Hop to it. To get you going, we’ve made up a few guest lists just as inspiration

A Sample Thanksgiving Guest List

Seth Meyers Late night TV Host

Warren Buffett Investor

Jose Altuve Professional Baseball Player

Roger Penske Entrepreneur, race team owner

Gloria Steinem Author, feminist

Reese Witherspoon Actress, Southerner

George Lucas Film maker (Star Wars, Indiana Jones )

Retired Admiral Bill McRaven Former top SEAL Commander, planned Bin Laden raid

Another Thanksgiving Guest List

Thomas Keller One of the top chefs in America

Paul Simon Songwriter, entertainer

Anna Wintour Editor of Vogue Magazine

Daniel Weiss Head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Bill Gates Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Dr. Peter Mansell Immunologist, former head of Louis Pasteur Institute

Phil Mickelson Professional Golfer, 5x Majors Winner

Jeff Bezos Entrepreneur, CEO of Amazon

You get the idea…..the best and the brightest from a wide variety of fields and professions, to provide a once in a lifetime conversation that expands the boundaries of thought for everyone attending Got it? Hop to it. Look forward to seeing your thoughts.

The Fine Print: Send an an email with your eight choices, and the reasons why you selected them, for Thanksgiving dinner attendees to admin@donaldpierce.com . We will read all of them and, if past is prologue, will publish all of them on the site. Obviously rude, derogatory, or poorly mannered communications will be deleted. Image courtesy of Getty Images (www.gettyimages.com) , who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing; donaldpierce.com is produced by the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering. Contents (c) 2019 donaldpierce.

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The Performances: Camila Cabello on SNL

Great music performances, pulled from the archives of SNL, the Grammies, late night TV, and special concerts. Some of these performances are very new and some are very old. They are all very good.

Camila Cabello on Saturday Night Live, 12 October 2019.

The Fine Print: Video provided courtesy of YouTube and Camila Cabello. This video has not been altered in any way. All rights belong to the respective artists and rights holders. We thank them for sharing. Great performances posts are produced by The Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

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The Act You’ve Known For All These Years

The Hunt For New Music:

“It was twenty years ago today, when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”….
Sg. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Lennon-McCartney)
Editor’s Note: Actually, it was more than 50 years ago that “Sgt. Pepper’s” was introduced in America. In celebration of that event, there are several posts and interesting links to checkout and enjoy about the most celebrated album of our time. 
There is an exact moment when The Beatles started the transition that would move them from their position as the world’s biggest rock band into the dominant cultural and musical influence that they became after “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released.
That moment was 29 August 1966, when The Beatles played their last live rock concert, in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The stadium was jammed and security for The Beatles was so tight that they had to be taken to the stage in an armored truck. One of The Beatles–looking out at the crowds and chaos that surrounded them–said simply “we can’t do this anymore”.
And after San Francisco, 1966, they didn’t.
As the band grew in popularity all over the world, the music was getting left behind. The screaming at the concerts was so loud that band members couldn’t hear each other, couldn’t hear their own instruments and, individually, they were getting restless–creatively, intellectually, musically. It was time for a change.
Ten months later that change materialized, in the form of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It was the first rock concept album, a total break with The Beatles tight and carefully Brian-Epstein- groomed image, a reach in terms of music and technology and instrumentation, a musical composition so complex it could not be performed live and stressed the limits of the then-available recording technology, a very complete break from the past. Those paying attention to the musical evolution of The Beatles knew that their music was changing, becoming more adventurous and complex. It started with “Rubber Soul” and gathered momentum on “Revolver”, an album that provided an early test of some of the concepts and musical ideas (“Eleanor Rigby”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”) that would reach full definition in “Sgt. Pepper”.
To produce “Sgt. Pepper”  took 400 hours of studio time and 129 days–an immense amount of time for that period in popular music, but nothing compared to the amount of time it can take a 21st century band to record an album today. Working for The Beatles was their drive to change, to create, to push the boundaries, along with a team that included their legendary producer George Martin (later and deservedly, Sir George Martin) and recording engineer Geoff Emerick. Working against them was the technology of the day: all analog, a modest four track Studer tape recorder, analog audio tape, the limits of electronic recording technology and techniques of the time.
It mattered not. Through diligence and drive and experimentation–and listening to what each other had to say–The Beatles pushed through, expanded the very limits of what was possible in the studio, turning the studio itself into a musical and creative instrument, not merely a recording device, and produced the album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”,  that Rolling Stone magazine has called the greatest rock album of all time.
At the core of the album’s concept was a step away from all The Beatles had been before and a step into what they would be going forward. Everything changed, from image and dress to composition complexity and musical density. The Beatles, in essence, created a band that could free them from the success and popularity of their past and give them again control over their musical destiny.
It was a risk. A massive, huge, intellectual, financial, business risk. If it went wrong, if their audience didn’t “get it”, if the album failed commercially, The Beatles could easily have been “over”.
But they did not play it safe, and that is the very greatest thing about “Sgt. Pepper’s”. They were fearless and opened a door into the future for themselves and for other bands by expanding the vocabulary of rock music. They elected to toss out the known for the unknown. Brian Epstein–their manager at the time” Sgt. Pepper’s ” was written, produced, and released–proved again to have perfect pitch for what to do and when to do it. Unlike other managers who  might discourage such an adventurous leap, Epstein–admittedly a little bewildered but totally committed to the group–backed the venture.
On June 2nd, 1967, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in the United States. It was released in the “summer of love” and became the background music for a huge cultural change in the United States and the rest of the world. The album was loved, hated, revered, despised, analyzed, deconstructed, misunderstood, applauded.
But–it worked. “Sgt. Pepper’s” changed music and the possibility of rock; it also became the soundtrack the world needed at a time of volcanic change and international unrest.
There is a cost to change–there is always a cost to change. By August of 1967, Brian Epstein had died, the victim of “incautious self-overdosage” according to the English coroner. Friends of Epstein noted that he was worried if his management contract would be renewed, that he had been contemplating suicide for some time, that he knew his value as someone expert in staging large concerts and drawing huge crowds might be less valuable going forward when all the creative work would be done within the confines of the Abbey Road studio; that the band he had nurtured and grown into a worldwide phenomenon had, finally, and with his own urging, outgrown him.
By 1970,  after the release of  “Let It Be”,  it was over, as The Beatles, rich and famous and influential beyond comprehension,  lacking a centering influence (Epstein),  displayed signs of transitional difficulty from being merely the biggest rock band in the world to the dominant creative influence of an era, as infighting and self-absorbed musical and personal directions and personality conflicts mixed in with confused business activities and management, took it all apart.
What was left was the music, and in particular, this one rather spectacular piece of music, that changed everything.
The Fine Print: Image embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing.

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Missing It: What Happened to The Tonight Show Opening

Paying Attention

This post was originally put up in early September (maybe you’ve noticed a trend..as we work through some of the greatest hits from the past). Last night, 8 October 2019, the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon opening returned to its’ classic opening format…the one used since the first telecasts of the show. Why? Who knows. We’re digging for those answers now. 

On 20 March 2019, the opening to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon changed. You’d have to be a creature of habit to notice or a television producer to care about it, but on that date, the iconic opening that had served (we thought) Fallon and the Tonight Show so very well for all of it’s existence was replaced by a non-dynamic opening graphic–just a few seconds of visual really– followed by Steve Higgins WWE inspired introduction of Fallon, who comes out from behind the curtains and goes right to his mark, starting the evening off by thanking the audience (or, alternatively..”You made it, you’re here, the Tonight Show”) and then dropping into his five to seven minute monologue (after thanking the Roots, his very, very good house band).

The original Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon video opening was a short, sharp, piece of art, directed by New York film maker Spike Lee with crisp editing and music by The Roots. It had movement and attitude and it rocked into the show.   It looked like it had SNL title opening ancestry and it did, because the show is produced by Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live (among other NBC shows).  It set the tone, like the one from Jimmy’s predecessor show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (above)

And, yes, we really wanted to have it embedded in this piece but could not find a copy of it. Perhaps NBC removed it from public visibility or maybe we didn’t look in the all right places but….it was not findable.(thanks to YouTube for the video at the head of this post).

However, we were able to source something that will provide the type of deep drill down we favor here at the Media Bunker: a shot by shot analysis of the opening produced by our friends at Popspots NYC.com …..

You are encouraged to click the link and go through the opening sequence, shot by shot. That’s all it will take to give you an appreciation of what a great little opening the show (once) had and we like it so much.

So why the change and why now? No clues yet, despite more research than I want to talk about. It could be that the change was mandated by a new “showrunner” (the term previously used to denote the executive producer). One of Fallon’s key team, Mike DiCenzo, who has been with Fallon since Jimmy’s first late night show (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon) left; as DiCenzo says, “After 10 years of late night television, it’s time to decompress”. The name DiCenzo may not ring an immediate bell, but you would recognize his repeating character on the show–Bucket Hat Guy, who often engaged in complex back-and-forth word association oneupmanship with host Fallon. Who knew he was the head writer?

At the end of his term with The Tonight Show, DiCenzo was operating as “show runner” so he had extra duties layered on him in addition to the writing he produced for the show (one of his bits was “Slow Jamming the News with President Obama”…a legend). DiCenzo left the show on 22 October 2018.

DiCenzo was replaced by Jim Bell, who is a news and sports producer for NBC and worked previously as President of  NBC’s Olympics Coverage. Bell has experience with the Today Show and was brought in to punch up Fallon’s show, which has been sliding in the ratings. It was just announced that Stephen Colbert’s show (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) had done something the Late Show had not done in 50 years…finish ahead of the Tonight Show in the ratings (specifically the key under 50 demographic that advertisers and networks all want). It was also announced that Katie Hokenmeyer, another top producer for Fallon who worked hand-in-hand with DiCenzo and another staff member that has been with Jimmy since his Late Night show days, has also recently left.

There is some concern with Fallon losing to Colbert in the ratings race for the first time; Fallon is notoriously soft on current politics and Colbert is constantly blistering Trump and his team, nightly, and has built a following because of his scathing takes on the present administration. And..it can only get better for Colbert as the 2020 elections are on the horizon and that only means more interest in politics and political commentary and content that plays right into Colbert’s humor sweet spot.

NBC had obviously thought that the strategy of bringing in an ex-Today Show producer would bring a more current and controversial focus to Fallon’s show (Colbert’s show started to take off when CBS moved their Morning Show producer to Late Night). But so far, the results aren’t too good–the cohesive team that took Fallon from very late night to late night has been broken up by the departures of DiCenzo and Hockenmeyer and from a distance, it seems that Fallon is most comfortable working with the team that helped him build his career. In the new management shuffle, Jimmy is now the “talent”, and subject to executive pressure to change his style to meet a perceived new audience demand. Bell’s first turn at managing the show hasn’t done much for Bell’s reputation–he lost the time slot–and so his position as head of the show may be in jeopardy, especially since rumors are floating around that Bell doesn’t get along with Lorne Michaels, who developed Fallon’s show, Seth Meyer’s Show, SNL, and is the reigning king of comedy at NBC–i.e. Michaels is irreplaceable and Bell is not.

Why so much interest in these two late night shows and their hosts?

Money.

The two most lucrative shows at NBC have long been  the Today Show and the Tonight Show. These shows generate vast amounts of advertising revenue and are comparatively inexpensive to produce vs. series television shows or sitcoms. If you’re the head of a major network, the time slots you want to control are early morning and late night. When those cash cow time slots start to drift away, it’s time for a change.

So is that the reason the opening for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was changed? Certainly hope not because the change wiped out four years worth of brand/graphic/film equity and replaced it with an opening that–currently–is not worthy of a major network television show. No doubt Jimmy can get back in the ratings game, but he need to get the band back together.again…bringing back the original opening would be a very good start.

The Fine Print. Photo embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st Century on file. This photo has not been altered in any way. Copyright Getty Images, 2019,and or their designee all rights reserved. We thank them for sharing. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon via and courtesy of our friends at YouTube; all rights belong to the respective rights holders. We also thank PhotospotNYC.com and in particular Bob Egan for developing and posting their shot-by-shot analysis of The Tonight Show opening. (if only we could post it!)/ Spotify music playlist courtesy of DJ Tschugge and Spotify. Turn it up.  DonaldPiece.com is an evolving experiment in digital communications with a surprisingly broad bandwidth and is produced by Perception Engineering and the Media Bunker. Entire contents copyright (c) 2019, Donald Pierce unless otherwise noted. Thanks for reading. Come back soon. 

 

 

Featured

Summer Weekend Concert Series: Dr. John at the Newport Jazz Festival, 2016

A video of Dr. John performing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2006. The video is very good throughout but there is a bit of an audio issue in the beginning of the set. Stay with it. Thanks to the  Newport Jazz Festival and Funk and Reggae for sharing.

The Fine Print: Special thanks to our friends at YouTube and the Newport Jazz Festival for sharing this video of Dr. John performing. All rights belong to respective artist. Special thanks to Funk & Regagge on MV for posting it. You are advised to run the sound through your stereo system and the video through your flat screen. You are also advised to turn it up. Summer Weekend Concerts are curated and edited by Perception Engineering and the Media Bunker. Turn Dr. John’s concert on and get to the Big Easy without even leaving town..except in spirit. Enjoy. 

Featured

The Christmas Channel: How Hallmark Rules the Season

Paying Attention:
Embed from Getty Images

Continuing with our look back at how we’ve covered the Holiday Season, here’s a post that went live in December 2017–before everyone in the world was watching–and has proven to be absolutely dead on in terms of predicting how the Hallmark Channel has become one of the icons of an American Tradition. We were paying attention then and we pay even more attention today. Here’s the background behind America’s favorite Christmas Channel…

The most watched channel during the holiday season is not ESPN, Netflix, MSNBC or Disney. It’s The Hallmark Channel. Why? It’s the programming: Hallmark values, as expressed in the movies shown on the two (soon to be three) Hallmark Channels closely match the values that most Americans associate with the Holidays: love, sincerity, generosity, kindness, goodwill toward men, and finding/understanding the true meaning of Christmas. In an America which has just completed one of the darkest of sociological/cultural/electoral years, the programming of the Hallmark Channels brings us back to a world that’s kinder, nicer, easier to understand and live in, and which represents core American values that we don’t want to lose. A couple of hour’s worth of Hallmark Channel programming is all that’s required to re-center even the most frazzled of holiday shoppers and party goers. The production values are consistently good, the scripts solid if predictable, the acting professional and believable. More good news–not only does Hallmark get it, the company is making it easier to see its programming, by expanding the number of channels and technologies on which you can see its programming. For a closer look at why so many people like the Hallmark Channel, read this piece from the Christian Science Monitor…
Although lots of my friends and contemporaries (including a surprising number of TV producers and editors) have developed the Hallmark Channel habit this holiday season, The Nightshift and Media Bunker team were early in, highlighting the rise of this very American media outlet, with this post published over a year ago. 
If you’re not (yet) a Hallmark Channel fan, there is no better time to dig into the alternate vision of America that the Hallmark presents than right now, because seeing is believing.
Set the Holiday mood, check out the Christmas One More Time XV playlist at Spotify…just type http://sptfy.com/12dC into your browser and you’ve got music to get you through all your projects.

Fine Print: Photo courtesy of our friends at GettyImages.com, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not been altered in anyway. We thank them for sharing. Text Copyright (c) Donald Pierce, all rights reserved. Enjoy the holidays.