Sunday, October 31, 2010

So Long, Paul Simon

Does anybody else remember "This Note's For You," the title track of an albumfrom 1988 by Neil Young and the Bluenotes? Neil mocked Michael Jackson and others who let their music be used in commercials: "Ain't singin' for Pepsi/Ain't singin' for Coke/Ain't singin' for no one/Who makes me look like a joke" -- man, those were the days. Back then it was still comparatively rare and shocking when a record originally released as a piece of music for its own sake was recycled as the soundtrack of a commercial. Nowadays it's business as usual. Nobody seems to get upset about it any more. No musicians seem worried that such a thing might make them look like a joke.

Latest case in point: a piece of the lovely multi-track vocal harmonies from Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" is on a new Honda commercial. The commercial has been circulating for probably weeks now, and it's become so common for pop music to be used in commercials that it took me until tonight to realize that there went another one: another musician who doesn't mind looking like a joke, in exchange for a nice big slice of that sweet advertising money.

I used to respect you, Paul Simon. What was I thinking?

Who's left? Who hasn't sold their music yet as a backing track to peddle cars or soda pop or sneakers? Neil? Bruce? I think the Clash bit that dust a while back, after Joe Strummer died or was already critically ill.

I'm warning everybody: when Rage Against the Machine is the backing music for a commercial for Oreo's, I'm going to get REALLY mad.

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