Thursday, May 20, 2021

Music History Today: May 21, 2021

May 21, 1994: Pulp Fiction is shown at the Cannes film festival.

Made for less than $10 million, Pulp Fiction earned more than $100 million at the box office and was also a huge critical hit, winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and earning seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. 

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Tarantino and Roger Avary shared the Oscar for Best Screenplay. Some critics have called Pulp Fiction, which spawned a slew of imitators, the most influential movie of its time. It contained such Tarantino trademarks as clever dialogue, graphic violence and numerous pop-culture references. The film is also credited with reviving the movie career of John Travolta. 
Read more: History

May 21, 1955: Chuck Berry recorded "Maybellene."

In 1955, a sort of undefined, get-you-in-the-belly music was named rock 'n' roll, though as John Lennon once put it, "If you tried to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might have called it Chuck Berry." 

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

Berry was a young man in St. Louis in 1955. He recorded the song "Maybellene" for Chess Records, and the rest is history. At a mere two minutes and 18 seconds, the song embodied the sexual tensions of a generation or, as Berry's producer put it, "the big beat, the cars and young love; it was a trend and we jumped on it." 
Read more: NPR

 

May 21, 1966: "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" by Bob Dylan peaks at number 2 on the US music chart.

“Rainy Day Women” has a drunken, New Orleans party vibe, complete with trombone and tuba, and shouting revelers in the background (the musicians), with Dylan himself cracking up several times. 

Bob Dylan 

Even his harmonica playing manages to sound inebriated. Howard Sounes’ book “Down The Highway” tells the tale of the studio recording. According to Sounes, Dylan told band he “wasn’t going to record the song with a bunch of straight people.” This lead to the prompt consumption of several joints and a strange, green-colored drink from a local bar known as “leprechaun cocktails.” 
Read more: American Songwriter

 

May 21, 1983: David Bowie's "Let's Dance" hits number 1 on the US chart.

David Bowie’s second American #1 single came nearly eight years after his first, but it’s strikingly similar in both form and content.  
David Bowie
David Bowie 1983
In 1975, Bowie shook off the glam-rock trappings of his immediate past and dove into American soul and club music, scoring a smash with the funky, sidelong banger “Fame.” In 1983, Bowie shook off the zonked-out ambient art-rock trappings of his immediate past and dove into American soul and club music, hitting #1 with another funky, sidelong banger. 
Read more: Stereogum

 

May 21, 1988: The Pet Shop Boys made it to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 with "Always On My Mind."

It’s rare for any song to have even one iconic version. Very occasionally, there are two. But three? Never…except for “Always On My Mind.”

Pet Shop Boys 

The great thing about all three wonderfully iconic versions of “Always On My Mind” is they each bring something entirely different to the song. Much as we like great song lyrics around here, great performers bring an indefinable extra dimension to even the most exquisitely crafted lyrics, and there are few better examples of that phenomenon than “Always On My Mind”. 

Read more: No Word, No Song

Son of a Preacher Man
Dusty Springfield

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