In Retrospect: Sept. 24-30

Ever wondered the meaning behind “I Am The Walrus”? Know anything about the guy who beat out Elvis for the title of Billboard Hot 100 king?

Coming at you with some more music history – here’s this past week (in retrospect, of course.)

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1948
Olivia Newton-John is born
Best known for her role in Grease, Olivia Newton-John has been adored all over the globe since her rise to fame in the 70s. Born in England on September 26, 1948, Olivia has several Grammy award winning hits – from “Let’s Get Physical” to “I Honestly Love You”, her soft-pop sound continues to inspire female artists. In addition to the iconic role of Sandy, Olivia starred in Xanaduin 1980. It was a reflection of two popular trends of the time – roller skating and disco. Although the film bombed, the soundtrack continues to be a popular favorite. Olivia is a breast cancer survivor, and continues to advocate for cancer awareness. In addition, she’s a long-time activist for environmental and animal-rights issues. In 1978, she cancelled a concert tour of Japan to protest the slaughter of dolphins caught in tuna-fishing nets.

ON THE PLAYLIST:

“You’re The One That I Want” by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta
“Xanadu” by Olivia Newton-John
“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by Kylie Minogue ((influenced by Olivia Newton-John)
“Breathe Me” by Sia (influenced by Olivia Newton-John)

 © David Magnus, 1967

© David Magnus, 1967

1967
The Beatles mix “I Am The Walrus” at Abbey Road
The Beatles mixed their psychedelic hit “I Am The Walrus” on September 29, 1967. Considered one of the strangest songs of all time, John Lennon wrote the piece to confuse his audience. Lennon had received a letter from a student at his old high school, mentioning that a teacher had classes analyze Beatles lyrics. Amused, he put together “I Am The Walrus” to befuddle the interpreters. The surrealist masterpiece was the first studio recording after the death of the group’s manager, Brian Epstein. They had recorded the backing track earlier in the month; on this day, they recorded the orchestral score and choral overdubbing. Additionally, the song has a BBC broadcast reading of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in the background. In the studio, producers recorded this audio from an AM radio Lennon was fiddling with.

ON THE PLAYLIST:

“I Am The Walrus” by The Beatles
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Beatles
“Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles
“Do You Realize??” by The Flaming Lips (influenced by The Beatles)
“Candy Says” by The Velvet Underground (influenced by The Beatles)

 Image: Ron Galella, Ltd/Getty Images

Image: Ron Galella, Ltd/Getty Images

1968
Will Smith is born
From rapping about the 305 to fighting aliens on the big screen, Will Smith is one of those stars you can’t help but adore. Born in Philadelphia on September 25, 1968, he began producing music at 16 with Jeff Townes. Their duo was dubbed “DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince”(the latter, of course, being Smith). The pair rapped in a cleaner style than West Coast groups of the time -- middle America found them entertaining and respectable. They hit the Billboard Top 200 in 1987, and Smith became a millionaire before the age of 18. He crossed over into acting with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which aired for six seasons. He went on to become an A-lister in the film industry, as well as a 4-time Grammy Award winner. Smith is set to star in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, slated for release in May 2019. He and his wife Jada have supported numerous charities – they’ve even founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California.

ON THE PLAYLIST:

“Miami” by Will Smith
“Men In Black” by Will Smith
”Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
“The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
“Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good) [feat. Jaden Smith]” by Childish Gambino

  PBS

PBS

1982
Lil Wayne is born
Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., on September 27, 1982, rapper Lil Wayne changed hip-hop forever. In 2012, he replaced Elvis Presley as the king of the Billboard Hot 100. Elvis held the title for 45 years with 108 entries – Wayne reached 109. Growing up in one of New Orleans’ poorest neighborhoods, he was picked up by Cash Money Records at age of 9. He joined 90s group the Hot Boys at 15, dropping out of school (and sacrificing his honors student status) to do so. After the group went its separate ways, Cash Money rebuilt itself with Wayne as its sole artist. For the next 20 years, Wayne single-handedly revived the record company. He’s known for his genius wordplay and unthinkably complex verses. Barack Obama himself has made multiple references to the rapper in speeches, claiming Lil Wayne is “on his iPod.” And somehow, the icon isn’t finished yet, as his much anticipated Tha Carter V just dropped today.

ON THE PLAYLIST:

“A Milli” by Lil Wayne
“Lollipop” by Lil Wayne
“How To Love” by Lil Wayne
“Started From The Bottom” by Drake (influenced by Lil Wayne)
“Angels (feat. Saba)” by Chance the Rapper (influenced by Lil Wayne)



Anja Reesemusic, In Retrospect