Monday, December 21, 2020

Music History Today: December 22, 2020

December 22, 2000: The Coen Brothers movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" hits theaters, spawning a Grammy winning soundtrack.

Would you believe one of the best-selling country music albums since the turn of the millennium is a movie soundtrack? Believe it. 

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The infamous O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack album moved more than eight million copies in its first seven years in the United States alone. And it almost single-handedly made America fall back in love with bluegrass music. 

Read more: Wide Open Country

December 22, 1967: The Graduate premieres in US theaters. It spawns a hit soundtrack featuring songs from Simon & Garfunkel, including "Mrs. Robinson."

After the soundtrack album for Mike Nichols’ comedy/drama “The Graduate” was released on Jan. 21, 1968, it quickly vaulted to No. 1 on the American LP charts, where it established itself as something distinctly new and different. 

Dustin Hoffman - The Graduate photo woman putting on stockings Hoffman looking at the legs
Dustin Hoffman - The Graduate

It was not the soundtrack for a movie musical like “West Side Story,” whose 54-week reign at the top of the chart remains an all-time record. Nor did it accompany a feature film by pop’s previous soundtrack champs, the Beatles  and Elvis Presley. Instead, “The Graduate” deployed the New York folk-pop duo Simon & Garfunkel’s music as a tool to underscore and comment on the emotion in its oft-caustic, satirical narrative. 

Read more: Variety

December 22, 1976: Bob Seger earns his first Gold record with the live album Live Bullet.

The 1976 double-album Live Bullet, recorded on Bob Seger’s home turf at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, captures the Motor City hero precisely at the midpoint of his transformation from rock ‘n’ roll journeyman to arena-rocking celebrity.

 It also happens to be one of the greatest in-concert documents of Detroit rock ‘n’ roll ever released. As the epitome of heartland rock, Seger became such a ubiquitous presence that it’s easy to forget he was anything but an overnight sensation.

Read more: Ultimate Classic Rock

December 22, 1995: Three years after her feature film debut in The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston gives her second acting performance in Forest Whitaker's romantic drama Waiting to Exhale.

In the early 1990s, a Hollywood film led by women was rare but visible (see: Steel Magnolias; The First Wives Club). But a Hollywood film led by black women was nearly unheard of. Enter 1995's Waiting To Exhale. 

Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon Waiting to Exhale publicity photo

The leading ladies — an ensemble cast of Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon — are middle-class, professional friends navigating their way through muddy relationships and situation-ships (or, in at least one case, trying to even feel worthy of one). 

Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon waiting to exhale publicity photo

It was a revolutionary release that predated films like Set It Off all the way through this year's standout Girls Trip. The soundtrack to Waiting To Exhale, however, remains a moment unmatched in the years since, set apart by its star-studded tracklist featuring only women. 

Read more: NPR

 

December 22, 2014:  Joe Cocker died at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer in Crawford, Colorado.

Known for his gritty voice, Joe Cocker - a former gas fitter - began his singing career in the pubs and clubs of Sheffield in the 1960s before hitting the big time. He was propelled to pop stardom when his version of With A Little Help From My Friends reached number one in 1968.

Joe Cocker singing wearing a blue suit
Joe Cocker

He performed the song at the famous Woodstock Festival in New York state a year later. He was also well-known for his Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour of 1970, which visited 48 cities across the US. His duet with Jennifer Warnes, Up Where We Belong - from An Officer And A Gentleman - hit number one and went on to win both a Grammy and an Academy Award in 1983. 

Read more: BBC

 O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Man of Constant Sorrow

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