Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Telstar, Joe Meek, and joltinjoe

This last Christmas, I received a very thoughtful present. It's the book "Singles, Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts", by Johnny Black. It's basically an overview of all the music singles that topped the charts for the last 50 years. It's fun for me to, for example, look up 1962 and see what music was popular during that year. Since popular music somewhat reflects the sentiment of the period, I think it's one of the best ways to get a feel for the era... without having lived it. Obviously, most of the songs from before the 70's I've never heard of, so it's fun to get on Google or YouTube and look 'em up. It's amazing to me that some of the songs were even hits.

While reading it last night, I came across a full page spread for "Telstar", by the Tornadoes. It was the first British instrumental single to top the charts in America, so I figured it would be an amazing song. Here's the Tornadoes performing it:

Okay, first impressions: Weird song. Somewhat catchy melody, but doesn't exactly seem "mass-media" exciting to me. What interested me much more than the song, was the story on the facing page... about the guy who wrote it.

Joe Meek. (Check him out on Wikipedia here.) Talk about a weird, but fascinating guy. The dude didn't even play any instruments, but wrote hundreds of singles... many of which were chart toppers. He was a closet homosexual ( since it was illegal in Britain at the time), and pioneered many advances in recording techniques. He was also convinced that he could speak with dead rock stars (like Buddy Holly), and would set up recording devices in cemetaries to try and capture voices. It all ended in 1967 when he shot his landlady, and then shot himself... at the age of 37. Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds him interesting, as his life is currently being made into a film. I'll definitely be checking that one out.

While searching "Telstar" on YouTube, I came across this cute little montage video that "joltinjack" made here. What really struck me, though, was the kids description for the video:

I dedicate this video to my Dad. He inspired me to pursue mathematics and science, while at the same time, to appreciate the arts. He is a great father.

Exactly what I hope my kids say about me someday. :)

No comments: