Tin Pan Alley, Crosswords & A Tribute

On the next edition of Life Elsewhere, author and journalism professor Ben Yagoda, will talk about his new book, The B-Side, The Death Of Tin Pan Alley And The Rebirth Of The Great American Song. The acclaimed cultural historian has written an entertaining, well-researched exploration of America’s songwriting history. The story has many twists and turns, but the reality of why and how the great American songbook almost vanished is not as straightforward as you may think. Make sure you listen in to catch samples of music you almost forgot about.

Alan Connor, London-based author and TV producer joins the program to talk about his new book, The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief. You’ll hear about the colorful characters who make up the interesting and often bizarre subculture of crossword constructors and competitive solvers. The A-list names of some of the more well-known among the puzzle solvers, may surprise you. Connor even explains how your character is revealed by the implement you use.

This week in the portion of the program where a listener takes over and selects The Hit That Never Was, we’ll play the first single released on the innovative Mute records in 1979, Fad Gadget with Back To Nature. The late Francis John “Frank” Tovey, was a British avant-garde electronic musician and vocalist. He was a proponent of both new wave and early industrial music, fusing together a unique blend of pop structured songs mixed with mechanised experimentation. As Fad Gadget, his music was characterised by the use of synthesizers in conjunction with sounds of found objects, including drills and electric razors. His bleak, sarcastic and darkly humorous lyrics were filled with biting social commentary toward subjects such as machinery, industrialisation, consumerism, human sexuality, mass media, religion, domestic violence and dehumanization while often being sung in a deadpan voice.

Sadly, as we were putting this edition of Life Elsewhere together, news came in that George Romansic, a man who played a significant part in how Life Elsewhere began, had succumbed to brain cancer. George was a pioneer of the alternative music scene in Seattle, playing drums with effortless verve in now cult favorites, The Beakers, 3 Swimmers and Danger Bunny, Noman B will pay tribute to his long-time friend.

Coincidences, coincidences…Norman saw George Romansic for the last time in April, 2014, in Seattle. George had just returned from a cancer treatment, when they met up; instead of bemoaning his disconcerting condition, he prefered to quizz Norman on which Killing Joke record was the best. Undoubtedly, George would be eager to read Norman B’s interview with Martin “Youth” Glover, legendary Killing Joke  bassist and producer… just published one day ago at the excellent Trebuchet Magazine.

Make sure you take notice of our new live broadcast time and place: 12 noon ET, every Sunday at WMNF The Source HD3. It’s easy to listen, click here in your browser. And, you can listen on your iPhone or iPad, get the new WMNF player here.

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