WATCH: Róisín O and Danny O'Reilly belt out Fleetwood Mac hit in barbershop
Róisín O and Danny O'Reilly definitely come from one of the most talented families in Ireland.
As the children of Irish folk singer Mary Black, solo artist Róisín and The Coronas frontman Danny have seriously impressed in the industry.
And as talented singing siblings, Róisín and Danny are no strangers to teaming up for a duet - and their latest a performance is a must-see.
Surprising fans inside Abner Brown's Barbershop in Rathmines, the siblings belted out a cover of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain - and it's seriously cool.
Video here: https://www.goss.ie/featured/watch-r...bershop-103107
Wenner reflects on Rolling Stone at 50
NEW YORK – Fifty years after he launched an underground newspaper that changed music journalism and a great deal more, Jann S. Wenner finds Rolling Stone being showcased in a once-unthinkable forum: a museum.
“At least it’s a museum I own,” Wenner said with a laugh during a recent telephone interview as he anticipated an anniversary exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, an institution that Wenner helped found in the 1980s. The three-floor “Rolling Stone/50 years” exhibit opened Friday and runs through late November.
There might not have been a Rock Hall or museum without Rolling Stone, which as much as anybody moved rock and the lifestyle around it from the fringes to the mainstream. Rolling Stone not only chronicled music, politics and culture, but it also helped change it, whether through Wenner’s revelatory 1970 interview with John Lennon, the photography of Annie Leibovitz or the “gonzo” reporting of Hunter S. Thompson. Among those getting early starts at Rolling Stone were Leibovitz, Thompson, the music critics Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and filmmaker Cameron Crowe.
The common thread among the best Rolling Stone contributors has been “extraordinary talent,” Wenner says, along with a “sense of purpose” and a distinctive way of “seeing our times.”
The exhibit and accompanying coffee-table book capture some of the highlights: Thompson’s scathing coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign, the serialization of Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and Michael Hastings’ scandalously candid 2010 profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, leading to his departure as commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Many of the photographs are indelible to at least one generation: Meryl Streep in greasepaint, tugging at her cheek; Bette Midler in a bed of roses; the men and women of Fleetwood Mac laid out on a single mattress; and most painfully, a naked Lennon clinging to a fully clothed Yoko Ono, a Leibovitz portrait taken just hours before Lennon was shot dead in 1980.
Wenner was only 21 when he and his friend and mentor Ralph J. Gleason started Rolling Stone from a San Francisco warehouse in 1967, the first issue dating from November of that year. Youth tycoons are common now, but 50 years ago it was rare for someone Wenner’s age to be running any business, at least one that hoped to make money. His hope then was to bring attention to the music he loved and how it was changing the culture, changes he believed were ignored or belittled by the mainstream media.
“The Beatles and Stones and Dylan are all working at the same time and all (are) bouncing off each other,” he says, calling it an “extraordinary alignment of the stars.”
Rolling Stone wasn’t the first serious rock music publication: Crawdaddy, led by Swarthmore College student Paul Williams, began in 1966. But none have a comparable legacy. By the 1970s, Rolling Stone was so much a part of the music business and its cover such a symbol of success that it inspired Dr. Hook’s hit single “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone.’ ” Rolling Stone became so synonymous with hip, alternative journalism that several movies have featured Rolling Stone reporters, including the 1981 release “Rich and Famous” and, from 2015, “The End of the Tour,” starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Rolling Stone reporter and Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace. Crowe made a whole film about his days with the magazine: “Almost Famous.”
Rolling Stone continues to make news – some unwanted (its discredited report on an alleged rape at the University of Virginia) and some in the tradition Wenner prefers to uphold, like the political coverage of Matt Taibbi, perhaps best known for likening Goldman Sachs to a “vampire squid.”
Wenner says he has no current goals beyond what he’s long wanted to do – cover what’s going on in the country and what excites him, whether the latest band or trend in politics.
The hot topic right now comes down to two words, President Trump.
“Is there any other news?” he says.
Desert Trip 2017 won't happen, promoter says
There won't be a Desert Trip festival in 2017, the festival's promoter told Billboard.
Goldenvoice President and CEO Paul Tollett was quoted in the music trade publication as saying, “We're not doing Desert Trip this year. We loved 2016 Desert Trip -- that was a special moment in time. Maybe someday in the future we'll do something similar."
Tollett didn’t immediately return telephone, text and e-mail inquiries from The Desert Sun. His chief operating officer, Skip Paige, posted a sad face on the Desert Trip Facebook page with the comment, "Awwwww."
Tollett's promotion partner for the Stagecoach country music festival, Louie Messina Sr., added in a comment to Paige's post, "Paul T is the smartest person in the business... unless it right he's not doing anything... not just for $$$."
Desert Trip last year was the highest grossing concert of 2016, yielding a record $160 million over two weekends for a bill headlined by the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Roger Waters. The three-day lineup, presented twice in October, also featured Bob Dylan, Neil Young and The Who.
Desert Trip also beat out the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to rank as the number one major music festival of the year by the industry watchdog, Pollstar. Coachella also was founded by Tollett, who retained a managing ownership of Coachella, Desert Trip and the Stagecoach country music festival even though Goldenvoice operated under the auspices of the Los Angeles-based AEG Live.
Tollett last year called it “a miracle” that all of those artists were available to play at the Empire Polo Club in Indio during a period before the polo season began and after the peak of the summer heat.
In an interview about Coachella in late March, Tollett said he did not want to talk about any other festivals.
The city of Indio had long sought a major fall festival at the Empire Polo Club to generate more revenue for city coffers. The economist Michael Bracken of the Development Management Group said in March of last year that the two weekends of Coachella, followed by the three-day Stagecoach festival, was responsible for at least $106 million in business in Indio. It generated more than $403 million throughout the Coachella Valley and $704 million for the global economy.
The city of Indio received $3.18 million in ticket taxes just from those two festivals, representing about 5 percent of its total general fund.
Indio Mayor Glenn Miller was unavailable for comment, but Mayor Pro Tem Mike Wilson said the city council did not have advance notice that the music event was not going to happen. He didn't cite any official sources as informing him either way.
"I was told probably three weeks ago there was a 60 percent chance of it happening," Wilson said. "Then, about a week ago I was having a conversation with somebody and they said it's probably better than that. So, that's the last information I had, that it was better than 50-50 that it was going to happen."
He said the city had hoped for a follow-up festival, but hadn't planned on more Desert Trip revenue.
"Obviously, it would be a disappointment to us," he said. "We had wanted Goldenvoice to host the fall festival and make it an annual event. It means an additional million dollars-plus for city revenues. Obviously not knowing if it was going to happen again or not, we haven't planned on any of those revenues in the city budget, but it's nice when we do have it. We put all of it into roads and road repairs last year. So it helped tremendously."
Classic rock stars, including members of Led Zeppelin, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac and Yusuf “Cat Stevens” Islam were reportedly seen at last year’s Desert Trip, leading to speculation that they might be invited to perform at a follow-up Desert Trip in 2017.
Fleetwood, however, was instrumental in launching a new bi-coastal summer festival called The Classic East and The Classic West festivals. The Classic West takes place July 15-16 at Dodger Stadium featuring The Eagles in their first public performance since the death of Glenn Frey, Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers on the first night. Fleetwood Mac, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire will play the second night. The same lineup will appear at The Classic East festival July 29 and 30 at Citi Field in New York.
Fleetwood was quoted as saying he was in the stands at Desert Trip and “It was emotionally charged.” Most of the acts in the two classic festivals are represented by Irving Azoff, who has a home at the Madison Club in Indio, not far from Tollett’s.
One of the biggest differences between The Classic festivals and Desert Trip is the vibe of the music venue. Tollett has always credited Empire Polo Club owner Alex Haagan III's care of the polo field landscaping for creating a vibe for Tollett and his art curator, Paul Clemente, to enhance.
But the music industry also has been abuzz about the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, which was marketed on Instagram as "the next Coachella." It was planned for late April and early May as a high end music event with celebrity chef catering, luxury cabanas and ticket prices over $1,000. But the luxury accoutrements didn't materialize, bands and employees didn't get paid and the promoters have been hit with numerous law suits. It created a taint on the festival market and one of the benefits Indio felt from its three Goldenvoice festivals was the positive media impressions.
"Last year's (Desert Trip) was an incredible event," said Wilson. "It certainly exceeded my expectations. I don't think I talked to anybody that was there that didn't think they hit it out of the ballpark."
This story will be updated. Check back for more details.
Showbiz Analysis: Catching Up With Fleetwood Mac Legend Mick Fleetwood
It is going to be a non-stop, music-filled spring and summer for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Fleetwood Mac legend Mick Fleetwood. While it’s been decades since the 1977 release of Fleetwood Mac’s multi-Grammy winning album Rumours, the amazing impact of the band and Mick Fleetwood continues. I caught up with Fleetwood as he prepared to leave Maui for Malibu to headline the Malibu Guitar Festival with Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, to discuss his fascinating journey and the power of great music. (I also asked to be put on his substitute tambourine player list for The Classic East and The Classic West concerts, but that’s for another story.)
Listen to the conversation with Mick Fleetwood on Nancy’s podcast.
You could say that Fleetwood is a team player. And a Renaissance man. The drummer, author, photographer, restauranteur and wine entrepreneur has followed his musical passion while taking the opportunity to embrace his other creative interests and the talent of others. There’s sometimes a blending of projects. A Mick Fleetwood Blues Band moment in his restaurant. An autobiography about his journey before, during and after Fleetwood Mac. It’s what creative forces do so well. That and recognizing the underlying beauty and magic of their craft.
Fleetwood is looking forward to his return to Malibu this month, bringing his band and their guitar power to the Malibu Guitar Festival, and enjoying the spontaneous cross-collaboration that can often happen during these musical experiences.
“Apart from the actual bands that are playing, I know that there’s a lot of jamming around quite often. And no one ever quite knows how and what that’s gonna be,” says Fleetwood, whose band rocks its own great musicians.
“The band features Rick Vito on guitar, who had a short tenure with Fleetwood Mac many years ago, and is a hugely talented blues guitar player and very, very well-known for his slide playing. He’s just a brilliant guitar player….and so we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Shortly after the Malibu Guitar Festival moment, Fleetwood will shift gears a bit as Fleetwood Mac prepares to headline The Classic East and The Classic West concerts. After decades of performances, has he noticed any shift in the feelings he experiences when he’s onstage doing what he loves? Fleetwood believes little has changed in that department.
“I would have to fall down heavily on just becoming—not to be corny—becoming a child that is loving what he’s doing and being in the moment. And yes, of course you know, working out there with Fleetwood Mac…what one might say, ‘the high-powered version’…you’re very often on the road for over a year…For me, the end result is that I’m totally driven just by emotionally being connected to what I do. In fact, if I didn’t have that, I think I’d be in a whole load of trouble…My requisite is I have to, at all costs, feel something and hopefully a lot while I’m playing. So getting in the zone is what is a requisite and a hope always for me. So whether you’re in front of 300,000 people or 20 people in my restaurant…or 300 people in my restaurant, or whatever happens to be, when I’m playing I’m pretty much the same little animal that started doing this when he was 15 years old.”
When talking with fans, Fleetwood is often reminded of the reason he’s continuously willing to take the stage.
“It’s been quite a journey…With all the great things and some of the sad things that have happened along the way…then the music chimes up and you get people, such as yourself, who quite frankly have made no bones about it that they’ve enjoyed the ride and they’ve loved the music. And then you turn round and quietly say to yourself, ‘Hey, no matter what, all of this has been worth a damn.’” Indeed it has.
Sheryl Crowe live on Chris Evans Radio show this morning, and her last number....
"Go your own way"......acoustic guitar accompaniment and she sounded really good....hitting all the higher notes
Carter Alan’s Rock N’ Roll Diary: May 21 in Classic Rock History
Paul McCartney released his second solo album “Ram” on this day in 1971. It got to #2, but would have reached the top if it wasn’t for another artist who held the #1 slot for seven weeks. Who was that?
What else happened on this day in rock n’ roll history? Here’s the Rock N’ Roll Diary for May 21st, from the College of Classic Rock Knowledge – 100.7 WZLX!
1971: Paul McCartney released his 2nd solo album, Ram.
1976: Aerosmith put out Rocks. The album went gold on the same day due to advanced orders.
1977: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors hit #1 on the charts knocking The Eagles “Hotel California” out of the top spot.
1979: Elton John became the first western act to perform behind the Iron Curtain when he played a show in Leningrad. Over 4,000 people packed the Leningrad concert hall to see the 2 ½ hour show, some paying100 rubles (at the time $150) for black market tickets. Elton closed the show with the Beatles “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
1992: The last “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson aired. His final guests were Robin Williams and Bette Midler.
2008: ZZ Top performed with “American Idol” winner David Cook on the season finale of the Fox reality show.
Checking the WZLX ticket stash: ZZ Top was at the Music Hall in 1975…And the Joe Perry Project played Scotch n’ Sounds in Brockton back in 1983.
The Guy Who Made Concert Tees Cool Looks Back on 40 Years of Retail Hits
"Go talk to Dell.” Those four words, uttered by legendary promoter Bill Graham, changed the course of Epic Rights founder and *merchandising pioneer Dell Furano’s career. It was the early 1970s, and Furano was taking a year off to learn the concert business before heading to law school. He was employed at Graham’s renowned 5,500-seat Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, where he had worked part time during his *undergrad years at Stanford University. The then-wife of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann asked Graham whom she should see about selling T-shirts during a show, and Graham sent her to Furano.
“That simple ‘Go talk to Dell’ changed my life,” recalls Furano, who permanently shelved law school to go into business with Graham. Along with Furano’s brother, Dave, they debuted Winterland Productions in 1974, a *groundbreaking merchandise company with clients *including Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, the Dead. But it wasn’t easy in the beginning. “In the ’70s, it was not cool selling merchandise, so we had to be careful,” says Furano. “Groups would say, ‘OK, you can sell, but don’t *embarrass us. Stand in a corner.’”
Licensing now annually generates $12 billion in *revenue, according to the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, which will induct Furano into its hall of fame on May 23. Past inductees include Walt Disney, Jim Henson, George Lucas and Charles M. Schulz. Though concert tees will always be a staple of the business, Furano has helped usher in a new era of *merchandising during the last 40 years. Following Winterland, the Nevada native founded and was CEO of Sony Signatures, later renamed Signatures Network, and became CEO of Live Nation Merchandise.
Furano’s latest endeavor, Epic Rights, which launched in 2013, builds *celebrity brands through a global network of *retailers and licensees, as well as tackles social media, VIP ticketing, fan *experiences and trademark consultation for clients such as AC/DC, Kiss, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Zac Brown Band, Lionel Richie and the estates of John Lennon and David Bowie. During the last three years, Epic Rights has *executed more than 500 license deals, including Madonna’s skincare line, Celine Dion’s handbag *collection, an apparel deal featuring the lyrics of Lennon & McCartney and even Kiss waffle makers.
Furano, 65, and his wife, Kym (a *partner and executive vp at Epic Rights), live in the Hollywood Hills near their West Hollywood office, where he spoke to Billboard about his 40-year-plus career.
Has it reached the point yet where artists can make more from their merchandise and licensing than from touring and record sales?
For touring artists, their main revenue still comes from touring. But they make very substantial merchandise money. It’ll range from 10 to 35 percent of their revenue. Also, artists realize it’s important to have fans wearing your merch. Billy Idol did a radio show with Miley Cyrus last September. She wore a jacket with an airbrushed classic Billy Idol design on the jacket. It blew up all these merchandise sales. Why? Miley Cyrus is wearing it.
How has the average per cap for concert merch grown?
In the beginning, we were very excited if we grossed $1 per head. Today, many artists routinely do $10-plus per head, and many top pop, rock, country and hip-hop artists gross $15 to $20 per head. Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber shows gross $300,000 to $400,000 in merchandise. That’s quite an *accomplishment when you realize that these sales are done over a three-hour *selling window.
When did the move into retail happen?
Up into the mid-’70s, it was all tour *merchandise. The first artist we started selling at retail was Grateful Dead with tie-dye [apparel] and posters. We sold them to Tower Records, Sam Goody’s, Licorice Pizza and the Berkeley [Calif.] head shops. In 1981, Spencer’s Gifts started buying merchandise. Our first retail hit was Madonna. She had the movie, [1987’s] Who’s That Girl, and she wore thrift-shop rubber bracelets, the hair ribbon. That was our first big retail breakout. We sold a lot of those at teen retailers.
Which act really broke the retail *market wide open?
New Kids on the Block in 1987 and 1988, with a massive tour and the first huge blowout by a boy band at retail. It was dolls, action figures, breakfast cereals, a McDonald’s promotion, sneakers -- all kinds of apparel. We made a big deal with JCPenney, and we took their family members on tour to different stores to host events. New Kids was a watershed artist.
You work closely with artists’ *management. Do they ever veto designs?
We did the Justin Timberlake [FutureSex/LoveShow] tour in 2006 and 2007. We did great business, but he did not want to sell any merchandise that said “SexyBack.” Same thing with Bruce Springsteen in 1984 and 1985 for the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, which set a record for the time in total merch sales. [Springsteen’s manager] Jon Landau said, “You can’t sell any red caps. Bruce didn’t put the cap in his pocket [on the album cover] so he could sell red caps.”
How did the *Internet shift things?
The first really huge digital breakout year was 1999. I always felt it was *important to bring more value to the *artists than just *selling *merchandise at their *concerts, so that’s when we expanded into e-commerce, branding and licensing. In 2000 and 2001, we did our first websites. We were an early pioneer in developing websites for Madonna, Britney Spears, Tim McGraw, U2, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss. Probably 2001 was the first time the *scalpers started *putting their tickets online. [To counter], we did huge VIP ticketing.
What trends are you seeing now?
Well-designed apps. We’re doing apps now for Zac Brown, Kiss and Celine Dion. It is the best real estate, and the artist can communicate directly with the fan with no filter. Fan apps and digital print-on-demand e-commerce will be game-changers. The other big trend is international. We do great business in South America, Japan and South Korea. We just did a whole series of deals in Turkey. It has become a global business for merchandising, not just for touring.
Your clients include the estates of David Bowie and John Lennon. What is the first step when an artist dies?
We wait. If an artist dies while you have the rights, you have that initial rush -- everyone buys out of memory. Then, lots of times you pull all the merch back and let the market rest. Then you go back and redesign your products, brand guides and lookbook to reflect an artist’s career.
In February, Celine Dion launched a handbag line. With so many stores closing, is it still a good time for *artists to create lines for retail?
To build a new brand from scratch costs millions of dollars. So, if you can make the right *celebrity endorsement, *retailers all *recognize that a well-executed, celebrity brand can be hugely *successful. There’s no fast bucks in the market because everyone’s got too much at stake, and the business has just become more sophisticated, but the answer is yes, it’s a good time for top artists that have huge followings and a sense of style. The most challenging area is fashion, which you have to change every season. That’s remarkably difficult for the best marketers out there, let alone a celebrity-driven line.
Even with the variety of items *available at concerts and retail, fans still love their basic concert T-shirt above all else. Why?
They loved it in the beginning and love it as much today. They love a name of a tour; they like the year of a tour. They like to see the itinerary because they think, “I saw Justin Timberlake on the 2007 SexyBack Tour,” or “I saw The Rolling Stones on the Tattoo You Tour of 1981 or ’82,” or “I saw Kanye West on his Graduation Tour.” The black *concert tee has reigned as king for over 40 years. It has become not only a fashion *statement, but also a *collector’s item and a *multigenerational shared experience.
The Music in My Head – 5/24/17 -“Ron’s Top 10 Live Performances” – #3
5/24/17: Fleetwood Mac. “Rhiannon “
I’m doing something different this week to celebrate the awesome School of Rock Chapel Hill Grand Opening event that took place on Saturday (photo gallery here!) I’m talking about my 10 favorite live performances, and today we arrive at #3!
I’M GETTING CLOSE TO THE TOP OF MY LIST FOR “TOP 10 FAVORITE LIVE PERFORMANCES OF ALL TIME.” If you know me at all, you know I’m a big fan of Fleetwood Mac, and especially Stevie Nicks. Just pretend for a minute that it’s June 11th, 1976. You’re watching that great old, late-night, weekend music show, called “The Midnight Special.” One of the musical guests is Fleetwood Mac, a band that’s been around for a long time, but now with couple of new people in front. It’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks….and at that point, hardly anyone in the audience that night knew anything about that duo.
They had probably heard “Rhiannon” on the radio, but they were about to see it performed live…..and it would be an incredibly passionate performance! Stevie stepped up to the microphone and said, “This is a song about an old Welsh witch,” and it was on from there. About 6 minutes later, the crowd had been treated to a dynamic performance from Nicks, Buckingham, and the rest of the band.
Some people said she was the new “Queen of Rock and Roll.” Not long after, Fleetwood Mac released the legendary album, “Rumours,” and things were never the same. You’ve got to see the way Stevie Nicks pours herself into the last couple of minutes of this song. She leaves everything she has on stage! So here is #3 on my personal list of live performances. It’s “The Music In My Head” on 97-9 The Hill…WCHL!
The Top 10 Musical Moments on The Americans
From Fleetwood Mac to Queen to Yazoo, the Cold War never sounded cooler
The bond between Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) isn’t the only strong marriage in FX’s The Americans. The show’s sacred matrimony of sound and screen has also been quite enviable, and that’s due to the exceptional work of P.J. Bloom. For five straight seasons, the veteran music supervisor of past hits like The Shield and Nip/Tuck has layered Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields’ outstanding and underrated cold war drama with some of the greatest pop music of all time.
“The thing about The Americans and what Joe and Joel have managed to create is that it’s this incredible time capsule,” Bloom told The A.V. Club in 2016. “All aspects of the show are so completely rooted in our early 1980s time period. It’s in the music and the sets. It’s in the wardrobe and the props. You could really be watching a television show in 1982 or 1983, or be walking down the street during that time, and be seeing and experiencing the same thing our audience is experiencing.”
Much like Michael Mann’s iconic ’80s cop drama Miami Vice, which this show subtly pays homage to with the inclusion of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” at the end of its stellar pilot, music adds an essential depth to the scenes and embellishes so many of the characters’ motives, conflicts, and feelings. Over the years, this has led to some incredibly vivid and elaborate sequences, many of which are memorable solely for its musical inclusions, from the likes of Fleetwood Mac to Peter Gabriel to Yazoo.
Now that the fifth season has come and gone, opening the door for next year’s sixth and final go-around, we’ve decided to reminisce on the show’s greatest musical moments. Because there were so many to choose from, and since there are only 10 slots available, we opted to only include one song per artist, which may (rightfully) drum up some controversy amongst you fans. And since not every scene is on YouTube, you’ll have to use your imagination for some entries, or seek out the scenes yourself via Amazon.
Oh, it also goes without saying: There will be spoilers.
10. ROXY MUSIC – “SUNSET”
“GREGORY”, SEASON 1, EPISODE 3
t’s never a good thing when the Feds are on your ass. Such is the case for Joyce Ramirez (Audrey Esparza), the wife of a deceased spy who’s also been tailed by Elizabeth’s side piece and co-conspirator Gregory Thomas (Derek Luke). Although Gregory does a fine job getting her stowed away at a Russian safe house, her good fortune ends there, especially when she freaks out after discovering Gregory, Philip, and Elizabeth are spies. Promised by the motherly Claudia (Margo Martindale) of a future in Cuba, she’s instead iced and left for dead in a car, making it seem like she overdosed on heroin. Meanwhile, her baby’s shipped off to live with his father’s parents in Russia. Bleak, right? Leave it to Roxy Music to bring the rain with their dismal ballad, “Sunset”, which finds Bryan Ferry singing: “How we’ve wasted our time/ Sunset, end of my day, my decline.”
09. ELTON JOHN – “GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD”
“THE SOVIET DIVISION”, SEASON 5, EPISODE 13
Some might argue this one’s a tad on the nose — and also a little too soon, seeing as it’s been less than 24 hours since it first aired — but Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” perfectly closed a season that had so much to do with change. As Randall Colburn predicted months ago, the fifth season of The Americans belongs to Paige Jennings (Holly Taylor), whose coming-of-age story became less about cute boys across the street and more about other teenage stuff like learning key self-defense tactics that will aid in future Soviet espionage. But she wasn’t the only one going through the motions, as we learn that Philip is also having a change of heart about his lot in life, and that he’s even entertaining the idea of a future that may find Elizabeth donning wigs by her lonesome. So, yes, John’s piano-fueled poetry parallels the story quite well, covering both Paige’s quest (“Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies/ Beyond the yellow brick road”) and Philip’s tumultuous indecision (“Maybe you’ll get a replacement/ There’s plenty like me to be found”). Goodbye Soviet Brick Road?
08. SOFT CELL – “TAINTED LOVE”
“PASTOR TIM”, SEASON 4, EPISODE 2
Juxtaposition can be a wonderful thing, and that’s exactly what Tainted Love’s signature hit offers for one of the series’ diciest moments. When Philip meets with a commercial pilot in an airport shuttle midway through “Pastor Tim”, things don’t exactly go as planned. The two are exchanging the world’s scariest chemical weapon and the pilot is (rightfully) terrified at the idea of traveling with it. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem, though, if he weren’t so goddamn panicky, but he is, and much to Philip’s chagrin, he draws the attention of a nearby security officer. Despite his attempts to placate the officer, Philip must resort to strangling the poor son of a bitch, all to the sounds of “Tainted Love”, which is what’s playing in an unsuspecting passenger’s pair of headphones. Again, this one’s more about aesthetic over substance and watching Philip tactfully bring this big guy down to the bubbly New Wave sounds is all at once hilarious, tense, and super cool.
07. GOLDEN EARRING – “THE TWILIGHT ZONE”
“ECHO”, SEASON 2, EPISODE 13
Out of all the moments in The Americans that truly feel akin to Miami Vice, there’s very little competition than the cold open for “Echo”. Given that it’s the second season finale, everything’s rightfully out of control: Russian insider Fred (John Carroll Lynch) has been shot up and is dying with the police on his tail, Philip and Elizabeth have to frantically race to a drop zone amid all the heat, and Paige watches Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) get manhandled by a storm of cops at a riot that’s gone south. In other words, it’s a perfect time to slap on an old stunner like Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone”, and while the pseudo sci-fi rocker doesn’t exactly seem like a perfect lyrical fit for the scene in question, the repetition of “when the bullet hits the bone” enhances the stakes at hand. It also mirrors Paige’s point of view and how she witnesses the frightening brutality of a militaristic police force, stuff she’s only seen in the news at home. To be honest, though, it’s also just a really cool track for a really cool scene, and sometimes that’s all you need.
06. YAZOO – “ONLY YOU”
“DIMEBAG”, SEASON 3, EPISODE 4
“This is my favorite song,” Kimberly Breland (Julia Garner) tells Philip after she pushes play on her boombox, which just so happens to have Yazoo’s debut album, Upstairs at Eric’s, on deck. The two are alone in a park late at night — Philip’s rolling a joint, Kimmie’s regaling him with stories — and it’s a genuine moment. But that’s a problem for Philip, as it’s the beginning of his unraveling from cold-blooded assassin to warm-hearted human being. You see, he likes Kimmie, and unlike his past associates, he actually cares about her well-being, and Rhys subtly sells that budding realization as he soberly takes a drag from the joint to the sounds of “Only You”. It’s a testament to the song’s power, and perhaps the assured finesse of the writing staff, that none of this registers as ultra creepy, especially since we’re watching a grown man cuddle a young girl in public. Instead, this is a charming slice of life that continues to speak volumes as Philip’s story evolves.
05. PETER GABRIEL – “HERE COMES THE FLOOD”
“THE WALK IN”, SEASON 2, EPISODE 3
The best montages traditionally offer lucrative portraits that move the narrative without being too ostentatious or unwieldy. (Think about the way Christopher Nolan closes out the majority of his films, especially The Dark Knight.) Weisberg and Fields know this power all too well and they’ve littered their series with outstanding montages pretty much from the get-go. One of the better examples arrived fairly early into the second season with “The Walk In”, which finds the Jennings family on the precipice of some major arcs. Though most of the drama here stems from Elizabeth burning a vital letter from the recently departed Leanne Connors (Natalie Gold), one she’s been carrying for 15 years and one that holds a significance for Leanne’s still-kicking-it bastard son, Jared (Owen Campbell), the scene also captures the rest of the Jennings and reveals how splintered their lives really are when they’re placed side by side. Things are okay, sure, but for how long? Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood” rides on that uncertainty and adds a somber wash to the proceedings, while also making a small fire look ridiculously epic.
04. PETER SCHILLING – “MAJOR TOM (COMING HOME)”
“THE DAY AFTER”, SEASON 4, EPISODE 9
Of the two spies, Elizabeth is usually the least likely to shy away from a task, but her iron-clad constitution starts to tear when she’s working the Seongs. Much like the aforementioned relationship Philip forges with Kimmie, Elizabeth appreciates Don (Rob Yang) and Young-hee’s (Ruthie Ann Miles) companionship and sees them for what they truly are: a hard-working American family with zero marks to their name. That makes her assignment all the more difficult when the Center insists she press on and corrupt the warm, comforting homestead the Seongs have built for themselves. Even so, she stays on course, staging a scandalous afternoon delight with Don, a harrowing affair that involves some drugs, some fake lubrication, and some Peter Schilling. Now, what makes the use of “Major Tom” so affecting is how the song so accurately mirrors both the “what if” and the reality of the situation. On the surface, the song is a sleek and sexy pop song, much like the sleek and sexy tryst that Elizabeth attempts to portray, but when you actually listen to the song — and this might explain why the show opted for the English version — it’s really about an unstable mission that could go awry any second. That this whole scene crosscuts with Paige’s not-so-slick attempt to drive Philip’s very sexy Camaro Z-28 only cements that dichotomy even further.
03. ROBERTA FLACK – “TO LOVE SOMEBODY”
“ONLY YOU”, SEASON 1, EPISODE 10
This one’s another juxtaposition, but Roberta Flack’s words weigh heavily on Gregory’s fate. After the FBI discover the former civil rights activist has been working with the KGB, the heat gets really, really hot for Gregory, enough that he’s been asked to flee the country and head over to Russia. But he can’t. His heart doesn’t belong to the country, but to Elizabeth, who also has strong feelings for him. Of course, these feelings aren’t nearly enough to sway Elizabeth from her own life’s work, and so Gregory is left with two options: head to Russia or be executed (either by the Russians or the Americans). He chooses neither, opting instead to commit suicide by going mano y mano with the local police, who notice him the minute he sets foot in public. Flack’s “To Love Somebody” delicately plays over the ensuing chaos as she spiritually aligns with Gregory, singing: “I live and I breathe for you/ But what good does it do/ If I ain’t got you, ain’t got?” It’s a beautiful moment that brilliantly captures the ethos of a beautiful character.
02. QUEEN AND DAVID BOWIE – “UNDER PRESSURE”
“CLARK’S PLACE”, SEASON 4, EPISODE 5
According to IMDb, Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” is credited for being used in something like 41 films and TV shows. In reality, that number feels like it should be doubled, seeing how it continues to pop up in various mediums, and used under the guise that nobody has ever heard of the song. As such, the power of the go-to jukebox anthem has waned over time, which is why its inclusion in The Americans deserves such magnanimous praise. Like the very song itself, which lathers hope on a hopeless situation, the series’ greatest montage doubles for a portrait of sorrow and happiness. We watch the all-too-tragic Martha Hanson (Alison Wright) swallow her pills and sleep alone in the dark, while her former would-be husband Philip has incredible sex with his “real” wife Elizabeth. It’s all very wrong, but it’s also all very right, and the sweeping way it’s presented captures both the tragedy and majesty of the situation at hand. It’s as if you feel connected to everyone, all at once, and it’s very overwhelming, which is precisely what Freddie Mercury and Bowie likely had in mind when they penned their iconic duet.
01. FLEETWOOD MAC – “THE CHAIN”
“WALTER TAFFET”, SEASON THREE, EPISODE 7
Fleetwood Mac and The Americans go together like shchi and porridge. When “Tusk” cracked open the pilot, it was as if Weisberg and Fields were attempting to parallel the identities of Philip and Elizabeth with, say, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks — two torrential lovers united by their work. But here’s the thing: While “Tusk” is certainly an iconic moment for the show — and most of you will likely comment on the lack of its inclusion — the song doesn’t hold a candle to the show’s use of “The Chain” late into the third season. In fact, this writer would go so far as to say “The Chain” has never been used to such outstanding effect than it appears in the closing moments of “Walter Taffet”. For three solid minutes, the climbing rock ‘n’ roll duet turns a complicated standoff at a diner into a modern Western with a touch of Scorsese. Even better, not a single moment of the song is wasted on the scene, from the twangy verses to the stomping bridge to the bass line breakdown to the orgasmic release. Everything’s accounted for and the way Buckingham and Nicks harmonize appear to be right in sync with Philip and Elizabeth’s close-call execution. It’s brilliant filmmaking — yes, filmmaking — and it’s hands down the coolest closing scene this show has put to the screen yet. Sorry, Guardians.
I get the feeling this writer probably drives on the wrong side of the road!!!
and Stevie Nicks was starting to lumber along like a sod-packed wheelbarrow.
And I'm David, not Homer!(we all should be able to change our name, at least once)
Ah ah, I was wondering the same thing but then googling I discovered that "shchi" actually is a traditional russian cabbage soup.