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Ten Musical News Notes and New Music for the Week of December 17, 2017

New music this week is “Cheer Up” from the Will Smith movie “Bright,” which is getting very bad reviews. The song is good, however. It’s from the oddly named band Portugal. The Man, which is from Wasilla, Alaska. So that town finally has given us something good. Below is “Big Sur” from Jack Johnson.

The happiest news that we can deliver is that Dame Vera Lynn, singer of “We’ll Meet Again,” is alive and well in her 101st year. The picture accompanying a Q&A at The Guardian is amazing.

If you love him in the E Street Band and The Sopranos, you’ll also love Silvio Dante/Little Steven/Miami Steve/Steven Van Zandt in this cover of The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul added a third verse, with the blessing of Joey’s brother, according to Rolling Stone.

The top country radio artists of 2017 have been announced by Mediabase, which measures nationwide radio airplay. Blake Shelton was the most popular male and overall artist in 2017. The Rolling Stone story credits two songs – “A Guys with a Girl” and “Every Time I Hear that Song” as the keys to his success. Maren Morris was the top female artist, Florida Georgia Line was the top duo or group (for the fifth consecutive year) and Luke Combs was the top new artist of the year.

Speaking of Rolling Stone, corporate parent Wenner Media is selling a controlling investment – reported to be $100 million — in the iconic property to Penske Media, according to NPR. The joint announcement said that Wenner Media will retain editorial control, and that founder Jann Wenner will be editorial director. WWD, Variety, Deadline and Hollywood Life are among Penske’s other holdings. BandLab Technologies bought a minority stake in Rolling Stone last year.

Steve Van Zandt remembers The Ramones.

Dave Chappelle sums up our current political dynamic in about a minute and a half. He makes it look easy.

Three opera singers and a musician have accused conductor Charles Dutoit of sexual assault. The women, in separate interviews with The Associated Press, detailed the incidents, they said happened between 1985 and 2010. Dutoit is a two-time Grammy award winner.

Here is a list of influential movie songs from the past 25 years or so. The rationale for the list is the twentieth anniversary of “Titanic” and Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” It’s a useful list despite the fact that Anne Donahue actually wrote that “My Heart Will Go On” is “one of the most important songs of all time.”

Classical music tends to get short shrift at The Daily Music Break because, well, we aren’t really classy enough. But we aspire to be worthy. In any case, The New Yorker’s Richard Brody takes a long look at the classical release that excited him the most in 2017. It’s “Rudolf Serkin: The Complete Columbia Album Collection” from Sony. The story has 12 excerpts and background on Serkin, who was born in 1903 in an Austro-Hungarian village that now is part of the Czech Republic. You really can get to know Serkin: It’s a 75-disc set.

Facebook has struck a deal with Universal Music. It now will be possible to upload homemade videos to Facebook or Instagram that include Universal music. This, according to Recode, will benefit Facebook by encouraging its users because there no longer will be fear of the dreaded takedown notices.

The Amazon Music Storage service seems to be sun setting. The company says that free subscription users no longer can upload music through PCs and Mac apps, according to the story in Fortune, music already stored can be accessed for a year. After January 2019, there will no free users. Paid users can upload but will be limited to 250 songs after their subscription period ends. Those songs will be removed a year after their subscription period ends, the story says.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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