Sunday, August 11, 2013

Music Sunday: Another Birthday Edition, with bonus historical trivia

Before continuing with our regular Music Sunday post, I've got a couple of questions for you: Are you using Wi-Fi to read this? Have you talked on your cell phone today?

Well then, you might be interested to know that the patent for the Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communications system that is the basis for today's wireless telephones and Wi-Fi was granted on this day in 1942. The thing is, if you're picturing a group of geeky scientists laboring long hours in a lab somewhere working out this system - a system that I couldn't even begin to describe the workings of, by the way - you'd be wrong. The people the patent was granted to were George Antheil, an avant-garde composer, and glamorous actress Hedy Lamarr.

And, it turns out, avant-garde is exactly the word for one of Anthiel's best known works, a collaboration with filmmaker Fernand Leger. I found this while looking around to discover exactly what kind of musical work Antheil did. I have to admit, this is really not to my taste at all, musically speaking, although the film work is interesting if odd. Don't feel obligated to stick around through the whole 16 minutes of the clip if it isn't your cup of tea, but I think it is interesting to see and hear the kind of thing that the co-inventor of Wi-Fi technology was doing when he wasn't enabling our (future) communications addictions.

Here's another long, but as far as I'm concerned much more pleasing, piece of music. I'm fairly sure I've shared this here before, but it is a favorite. It's Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", all 17 minutes and 3 seconds of it. I figured it would be appropriate to share, being that today would have been Erik Brann's birthday, had he not died of a heart ailment in 2003. Born in 1950, Brann was only 17 years old when he played guitar on this classic, and epic, song:

Today is also Bob Mothersbaugh's birthday. Bob, born in 1952, is the lead guitarist for Devo, and lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh's younger brother. And so, here is "Whip It", one of the oddest hit songs I have ever heard (although not nearly as odd as the Anthiel composition):

Yesterday's most notable musical birthday is that if Ian Anderson, lead singer and flautist for Jethro Tull, who was born on August 10, 1947. Anyone who can turn the flute into a rock and roll instrument is okay as far as I'm concerned. His birthday gives me the excuse to share a couple of my favorite Tull songs. First is "Locomotive Breath", from the album "Aqualung", which was released in 1971. This particular clip is from a live performance in 1982:

And then, of course, there is the album's title song, "Aqualung". It always seems strange to like so much a song that includes the word "snot" and describes a bum "sitting on a park bench/eyeing little girls with bad intent", but the lyrics of this song are some of the most evocative I've ever heard. They paint such a concrete picture of a particular set of scenes. This clip is a live performance of the song on the BBC from 1977:

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