1971 is the name of the year and an Apple TV+ documentary series billed as The Year That Music Changed Everything. It’s also the number of hours the former president kept up his blog “From the Desk Of.” No, that’s not true. But it is satisfactual. The thesis of the movie 1971 is that music suddenly came into its own a year and a half past the Beatles’ sell date. In fact, the filmmakers make a very good case for this, with lots of studio footage of Elton John, Isaac Hayes, Andy Warhol and the Loud family, and the Osmond Family. I know this sounds like I’m being sarcastic. I would have been more onboard if there had been a little less of Keith Richards zombied out in the south of France and a tad more of the incredible Tapestry sessions that made the earth move under our feet and the sky come tumbling down, but by the end of the year the music apparently survived, I bought the bit.
2021 could use a little of this treatment. On “Gray’s Anatomy,” which has been time delayed eight or so months back to the height of the pandemic, the season finale sped up the clock to sync up mostly with the present. “This Is Us” started in the present, then flashed forward four years to a point midway between now and a previous flash forward so far in the future that apparently household appliances and haircut styles seemed to have stalled out in innovations and new features. The hidden message: Forget binge viewing and working from home; it’s all watercooler conversations and cliffhangers just to be clear. Welcome back, Kotter.
We’re just weeks into the Vaccination Age and already we’re defaulting back to old norms far faster than the experts predict. Twitter is rolling out a $3 per month professional version for French and Canadian journalists that lets you save bookmarks and edit mistakes. Twitter Spaces has found a new tab in the mobile client to aid discovery of new live shows, and Facebook has invented Bulletin as a jumpstarter for neutered apolitical, private-public-radio-oriented newsletters with embedded Clubhouse rules — evading the Apple 30% app store in-app tax by creating a %-to-be-named-later out-of-app subscription experience. No wonder the future is barely distinguishable from this Thursday. But don’t mistake my lack of outrage for anything but total support for the three major plans on the table so far. I actually think we’ll see the beginnings of some real shape-shifting out there in the creator economy, as we saw in an earlier time with Tom Wolf and Ken Kesey’s Electric Acid Kool Aid Test, and everything Kurt Vonnegut ever wrote.
Fifty years ago we saw what happens when the talent takes over the institution. ’72 the institution strikes back, ’73 the tapes are played back, ’74 even the president of the united states must stand naked. The underlying truth of the matter is that every year is the time when music takes over. The revolution continues to not be televised, this time shared with added interactivity. Joni Mitchell forever sits gunning the engine in her car waiting at the top of the hill:
He makes friends easy
He’s not like me
I watch for judgement anxiously
Now where in the city can that boy be
Car on a Hill © November 28, 1973; Crazy Crow Music
from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter
The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, May 28, 2021.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang