Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1963, American folk group, Peter, Paul and Mary, released their beloved single, “Puff The Magic Dragon.” The lyrics of the song were written by Leonard Lipton, a friend of Peter’s at Cornell University, back in 1959 while they were in school. “Puff” recounts the story of a little boy, Jackie Paper, and his imaginary dragon friend, Puff, who go on adventures together during Jackie’s childhood. But eventually, Jackie grows up, leaving Puff to retreat back into his cave, awaiting his next child companion. The song was an instant success, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming another standard in a broad series of Peter, Paul and Mary folk hits that dominated the 1960s. However, as early as 1964, speculation over the song’s true meaning arose, leading many to believe that the seemingly innocent lyrics about childhood and growing up actually serve as a veiled metaphor for smoking marijuana. The group, as well as the lyricist Lipton, have since vehemently denied the allegations. But the song, to this day, remains heavily associated with drug culture.
In the wake of the sudden passing of Prince last year, there has been an overwhelming demand for the legendary music icon’s body of work to be made available on music streaming services. As of February 12, many fans got their wish. Warner Bros, who owns the rights to much of the late musician’s work, including renowned albums 1999, Purple Rain, and Dirty Mind, has reached an agreement with Prince’s estate to allow all his music (released prior to his 1996 split with Warner Bros) to be made available on music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. The February 12 release date coincided with the Grammy Awards, which honored Prince with a tribute performance by The Time and Bruno Mars.
Warner Bros has also announced that, on June 9th, they will release a remastered version of Purple Rain, as well as two previously unreleased Prince albums and two concert films from Prince’s personal vault at his Paisley Park recording complex.
Prince did once have his music available for streaming on some digital platforms, but, with the exception of Jay Z’s Tidal (which gives artists a larger share of profits) took his music down in 2015. An advocate for artist rights, Prince split with his long-time record label, Warner Bros, in 1996 because, as a prolific songwriter, Prince wanted to release new music as soon as it was ready, but Warner Bros refused his request. This dispute and eventual split was what prompted the singer’s infamous name change to the un-pronounceable emblem combining the astrologically inspired Mars-male and Venus-female symbols. In a press release at that time, Prince wrote: “Warner Bros took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music I wrote…The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.”
Once the Warner Bros contract expired in the year 2000, Prince went back to using his name, creating his own record label and innovating new ways for fans to access his work, becoming one of the first artists to sell their albums online.
Indie rock “goofball” Mac DeMarco has announced the release of his forthcoming album, “This Old Dog,” out May 5, 2017. With the announcement of the album’s release date, the 26 year-old singer-songwriter previewed its title track, a groovy, mellow jam about getting older and settling down. Simultaneously, DeMarco released the track “My Old Man” from the upcoming album, which is a surprisingly upbeat ode about age, turning into your parents, and following in their footsteps – for better, or, begrudgingly, for worse. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.
Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1997, influential rapper, Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie, or, Biggie Smalls) was fatally shot while leaving a party at The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Biggie was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and rose to prominence as a central figure of the East Coast hip-hop scene in 1994 after the release of his debut album, Ready to Die. However, as his success skyrocketed, he became heavily involved in the growing East Coast – West Coast Hip Hop Feud. On September 7, 1996, West Coast hip hop rival, Tupac Shakur, was involved in a driveby shooting, where he sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died six days later. Although unconfirmed, rumors of Biggie’s involvement in the shooting of his rival were unavoidable. Six months later, while in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming album, Life After Death, and to shoot the music video for the album’s lead single, Hypnotize, Biggie Smalls was shot four times in his SUV while stopped at the corner of Wilshire Blvd and South Fairfax Ave. He was 24 years old. Biggie and Tupac’s murders remain unsolved to this day.