What Elvis Costello got right in Oliver’s Army

Neocolonialism and huge military budgets are prevalent. So is the myth that militarism means order

What Elvis Costello got right in Oliver’s ArmyIn our age of cancel culture, it seems odd to see an artist cancelling himself. New-wave icon Elvis Costello recently asked radio stations not to play one of the most popular original hits of his storied career, Oliver’s Army. He added that he will no longer perform the song publicly. The song contains the n-word,…

Blue Christmas: How Elvis turned it into a seasonal classic

How something quite ordinary can be transformed by a specific performance

In late 1965, coming to Canada from Ireland had its revelations. My Dublin hometown may have been more architecturally distinguished, but it couldn’t match Toronto’s relative abundance of decently paying jobs. There were also things like diners – which I’d only seen in American movies – and the language esoterica pertaining to “double-double” coffees. Top…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

The traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This translation is only partly accurate, however. The English version is quite different from the German: the essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to those…

ABBA-cadabra, make them disappear

It’s hard to escape ABBA’s sickeningly sweet embrace. Having induced several waves of nausea, they’re back

ABBA-cadabra, make them disappearOn Nov. 5, the Swedish pop group ABBA released its first album of new songs in 40 years, Voyage. It will likely rocket up the charts and sell in the millions. Voyage may even end up breaking the record held by Michael Jackson’s Thriller of around 70 million copies sold. Considering the fact that ABBA…

Return iconic Toronto concert hall to its populist roots

Incorporate Hart Massey’s original model for Massey Hall and charge $1 for tickets to the first few concerts

Return iconic Toronto concert hall to its populist rootsCOVID-19 remains a significant health problem around the world. Fortunately, some things are slowly beginning to shift into what’s commonly referred to as the “new normal.” It’s certainly happening in Canada. Many sports stadiums have returned to full capacity. Small and large businesses like movie theatres, gyms, hair salons and (fairly soon) restaurants are increasing…

Streaming giant Netflix flexes its podcasting muscles

Podcast titles have doubled since April 2020, when Apple announced the one-millionth entry in its podcast directory

Streaming giant Netflix flexes its podcasting musclesThe phrase “video killed the radio star” is often used as a metaphor for the domination of video over audio. It’s also a song by British new-wave band and one-hit wonder, The Buggles, and was the first selection played by MTV 40 years ago, on Aug. 1, 1981, sparking the music video revolution. It was…

Artifacts from composer’s life included in international registry

Designation signifies late U of A professor’s importance to the Canadian cultural landscape as a renowned classical music composer

Artifacts from composer’s life included in international registryAn archival collection documenting the life and accomplishments of a University of Alberta music professor has struck a high note by earning a world-class designation. The Violet Archer fonds at the U of A has been accepted into the Canada Memory of the World Register, part of a UNESCO program that showcases the most meaningful documents in humanity’s…

‘Car choir’ puts an inventive spin on live concerts during pandemic

U of A choral director conducts live performances in a parking lot, with singers performing from the safety of their cars

In a year when in-person concerts have been next to impossible, U of A choral director Tim Shantz has found a way for the university’s Madrigal Singers to perform live before an audience. And it doesn’t involve Zoom. Gathered in a parking lot, the members of his choir sing into microphones from their cars – all safely contained in…

In praise of Hee Haw’s old-time country laughs – and music

It’s time to bring back Hee Haw and its successful brand of comedy and country music to a whole new generation of TV viewers

In praise of Hee Haw’s old-time country laughs – and music“SAA-LUTE!” Does that ring a bell? If not, maybe a quick “Howdy!,” “Pfft! You was gone!,” “Uh-huh, oh yeah!” or “Hey Grandpa! What’s for supper?” will bring back fond memories. Perhaps a short visit to Kornfield Kounty and Archie’s Barber Shop would help. Or we could grab a guitar and banjo and start pickin’ and…

Charley Pride knocked down country music’s racial barriers

Audiences took a while to warm up to a black country musician. He wasn’t promoted in this fashion and photos didn’t accompany his early singles

Charley Pride knocked down country music’s racial barriersI didn’t grow up listening to country music. Nevertheless, there were country musicians I always liked. Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Roy Clark (who was also a bluegrass legend), Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys and Alabama come to mind. Then there was Charley Pride. He was in a class of his…
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