Musings On Music History: In Which We Say Goodbye To Ol’ Blue Eyes, Say Hello To A Titan Of Industrial, and The Beatles Come Together

05.14: On this day in 1998, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, relinquished his position as The Chairman of the Board. He was 82. It’s hard to imagine today how big Sinatra was in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, especially when rock ‘n’ roll came on the scene in mid-’50s and exploded in the mid-’60s. Still vibrant when Elvis shook his hips, when The Beatles played Sullivan, and when Hendrix closed out Woodstock, Frank got his start during the swing and big band days of the ’30s, doing his part to get the U.S. through the Great Depression and World War II. Swing was to that time what rock was to the ’60s. That is, everything. Those kids today (shaking fists in front of our grumpy face) think that jazz, swing, and big band were innocuous and lame. Oh, how wrong they are. Swing and jazz got people on their feet as never before. It got them moving in “libidinous” ways, boys and girls, dancing together, mass hysteria! Well, it wasn’t that bad, but jazz hit in a big way, and Frank rode that wave way beyond swing’s heyday, taking what he’d learned in the big bands and applying it to his own crooning style. This style hit at just the right time and in just the right ways. Sinatra became a heartthrob in the late ’40s, driving girls crazy at the same time The Beatles were still in diapers. Frank was huge. He went through his ups and down, but even in 1969, at the age of 54, he scored a huge hit with “My Way.” Think about it. In the age of rock, Frank Sinatra was king again, with a song that sounded like it was straight out of Radio City Music Hall in 1948. Alright, we’ve rambled on enough. You get the idea. Sinatra rules. He was rock ‘n’ roll before rock ‘n’ roll.

05.17: On this day in 1965, his industrial majesty Trent Reznor was born. We still remember the first time we witnessed “Head Like A Hole” on the MTV. We know it wasn’t the first industrial song, the first industrial video, and that Trent didn’t invent industrial music, but it still rocked our world and opened our mind to that merging of electronic and metal. And, if that first album, Pretty Hate Machine, was the first salvo in bringing industrial to our ears, it was his next album, the insanely detailed, dense and dark The Downward Spiral, that really solidified Trent’s vision in our minds. The man is a composer of industrial metal awesomeness and today we celebrate his entry into this world. Huzzah! [more]

05.19: One of the greatest, most destructive, and wildest guitar players on the planet birthed himself today in 1945, when Pete Townshend rocked his lungs for the very first time. That’s right, he birthed himself. He decided it was time to be born, and he was. Just like everything else in his life, Pete made the decisions and pitied all who got in his way.

05.19: A punk rock legend graced us with his presence on this day in 1952, when the one, the only, Joey Ramone was born. What a day, indeed! Without Joey and his little band that could, The Ramones, punk would not have taken the road it did, would not have influenced all the people it did, would not have given way to “post-punk,” “alternative,” “indie,” or “hardcore,” and we may never have gotten to know the green, spiked mohawk or the safety pin through the nose or the myriad other things that frightened and grossed out parents about music from the ’70s onward. We love ya, Joey. You were truly one-of-a-kind and today we celebrate you. We get goosebumps all day long just thinking about all of the awesomeness put forth upon this planet by you and your brothers Ramone. “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!”

05.19: This day, many moons ago, 1979 to be exact, three guys got together to relive the old days of being in the biggest rock band of all time, letting bygones be bygones (at least, for that day), when Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr reunited for an impromptu jam celebrating Eric Clapton’s marriage to Pattie Boyd Harrison, George’s ex-wife. Yeah, you read that correctly. George attended the wedding of his ex-wife to one of his best friends, who had, coincidentally, carried a torch for said ex-wife over many a year, even penning top hits in her honor (“Layla”). We feel awkward just writing about it, but if George is cool with it, then we’re cool with it. Besides, anything that could bring three of The Beatles together for a jam session is a great thing.