When I was 17 I did what people told me
Did what my father said,
And let my mother mold me
But that was a long ago
I’m in control, never gonna stop
Control, to get what I want
Control, I like to have a lot
Control, now I’m all grown up
— Janet Jackson, Control (born May 16, 1966)
Control. It is all any of us desire. Do we want money? Or is it fame or infamy? Do we want power? Do we just want to be seen? Or maybe just left alone in our own little world?
Over the last year and a half, I’ve heard from many of my friends that politically I disagree with but love just the same. They’ve repeatedly told me, and anyone else that would listen, that the government was trying to oppress them. That the stay-at-home orders were a sentence that overstepped any boundaries. That wearing a mask was a violation of their civil liberties. That the vaccine was a way to see who was willing to conform.
Ultimately, the real issue had nothing to do with any of these. It had to do with the issue of being controlled and not being the captain of one’s own ship. It is like being a throw-away character in someone else’s novel. Maybe an NPC in some MMORP. In the end, if you don’t push back somewhere, you can genuinely never claim to be your own person.
Yesterday (editor’s note: that was two weeks ago now), at least when I started writing this, we saw this play out in public. Britney Spears was able to speak freely in front of a judge about her years-long conservatorship. Over the last decade and a half, much of her adult life, her father and by proxy her manager had been making the decisions for her:
“I was on tour in 2018. I was forced to do… My management said if I don’t do this tour, I will have to find an attorney, and by contract, my own management could sue me if I didn’t follow through with the tour. He handed me a sheet of paper as I got off the stage in Vegas and said I had to sign it. It was very threatening and scary. And with the conservatorship, I couldn’t even get my own attorney. So out of fear, I went ahead and I did the tour.”
And even when she thought that she might have a choice, she didn’t. She continued to tell the story about how she was forced to do her choreography, and then train all the dancers, and create all the stage management. All of which her manager had signed off on...but once she decided it was too much and that she wanted to cut a dance number to have a break in the show, it was disastrous.
“...my dancers and my assistant of the new people that were supposed to do the new show all went into a room, shut the door, and didn’t come out for at least 45 minutes. Ma’am, I’m not here to be anyone’s slave. I can say no to a dance move.”
Her manager agreed to allow her to cut the sequence, mentioning that she might need to see her therapist if she was so overwhelmed. Ultimately Britney was told by the therapist that noncompliance with her management meant her medication required to be changed to something far more potent, eventually making her more compliant to those around her.
Her therapist found a way to use this very act to charge her another $60,000 a month, temporarily put her into a private rehabilitation facility, and come on the road with her to help her father, her manager, and his own wallet so that she knew that she was owned.
While this is one of the more egregious acts, it isn’t the only one. We’ve all heard of stories of ownership and credit taken away from others. In the case of McCartney vs. Lennon, Paul McCartney asked Yoko Ono if he could reverse the credit from Lennon/McCartney to McCartney/Lennon on the song Yesterday. Like many songs from this duo, it was written and recorded solo without the other’s input in the slightest. Because of the partnership, McCartney could fill his own bank account from tunes written and performed by someone else through no means of his own. And in the end, he wanted nothing more than to change the order of authorship only to be denied by Lennon’s widow. This would have changed no royalties, nor given McCartney any more power over publishing as they had agreed that any song written by the other under the guise of the Beatles would be automatically 50/50 requiring unanimous consent. McCartney lost this battle ↪︎.
And this wouldn’t be the last time. In 1985, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney had an on-again-off-again friendship and had duetted together several times.
McCartney had for some time entered the world of music publishing and had been buying up other performers’ works and profiting from them. Stepping back into my own shoes for a moment, this author has done the same thing over the years and has owned the rights to several songs from friends that had sold the rights to pay debts. I, however, transferred the rights back to the original artist as soon as the debt was repaid. Maybe with just a ‘little’ interest. I have never claimed to be a great business person. Nor would my former partners.
In the end, Jackson had bought nearly the entire back catalogue of Beatles tunes and told McCartney that it was ‘only business.’ Essentially their friendship was over. At the time, McCartney was still one of the wealthiest musicians alive, so we know it wasn’t about that...it was about controlling one’s own destiny.
The same could be said for Prince. In 1993, Prince was under contract with Warner Bros. At the time, he had over 500 unpublished songs in the vault that he was not allowed to release as Warner had felt that releasing them would oversaturate the market and lower the value of the music they controlled. Prince wanted nothing more than to be able to write and release the music he loved, and as Warner disagreed with this, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol that did not exist in any font library at the time, requiring him to send the font via floppy disc to anyone that wanted to call him by his new name Ƭ̵̬̊, and not “The Artist Formerly Known As.” Please note, “Ƭ̵̬̊” is the proper Unicode representation, but it most likely does not render correctly upon your screen.
In the end, we all want control. We all want to know that we aren’t the supporting role of someone else’s story. We want to know that we can change the stars. Quantum Mechanics tells us that we have no free will regardless of what we may think. Thinking we have free will is only a mathematical representation within our head that we’ve evolved to believe because the universe gets its way only when we think we are in charge ↪︎. And if the universe has built our brains to feel this way, should we be so upset about our friends and neighbors that are acting in any way other than to try to reassert their own free will?
Where was I going with all of this? Oh yeah, #FREEBRITNEY
One of my favorite blogs that I steal from regularly, Create Digital Music, wrote about the changing terminology in technology. Any of us that grew up in the SCSI days remembers the term MASTER/SERVANT. This phrase triggered some folks almost as much as Critical Race Theory triggers others...and as such, standards committees decided to change the term to Follower and Leader...or Main and Secondary...or something else. Honestly, the least woke description was the most apt as it described the relationship to a T. The discussion was a little too late as almost all communication with the most basic of direct electric connections being bi-directional these days. And with that phrase, I’ve upset two different groups, one that thinks bi-directional communication shouldn’t be taught in kindergarten, and the other that says bi-directional is either what MIDI-Over-USB did in college or just fooling itself before it adopts full MLAN 2.0 standards.
And now more raw tofurkey to feed to the emaciated wolves...we are no longer calling plugs and sockets male and female. It is now, just plug and socket. HOW ARE WE GOING TO HAVE MONSTER CABLE GENDER REVEALS!!!
Depeche Mode: Master and Servant
How To Get That Sound:
What’s New is Old
What year is it? This month’s two albums at the top of the charts have been Queen’s Greatest hits (1981) and Joni Mitchell’s Blue (1971). Both albums have been around long enough to be told that maybe they are a LITTLE too old to be hanging out in this hipster bar, or at least this is what I’ve been told on multiple occasions.
Want to know more about Blue? The New York Times has a beautiful interactive article on the 50th anniversary of its release. And as the Grey Lady (the Times, not Mitchell) is piloting a new share feature, with any hope, this should not be behind the paywall for our readers!
Kurzweil K2700 the Unboxenatinging
Wait, is that a word? Is it here yet? Is it in the wild? Or is it just a prerelease? I’m not in the know anymore, and I certainly don’t expect the Kurzies to send me a free one these days. It has been a decade since I’ve played live, and it may be another before I do so again. But I am still jealous. If anyone needs my address...contact Space Junkie Zampino but until then, watch this and maybe snoop around that Youtube channel for more.
Sonikmatter: Mind + Music + Technology
Once again, thank you for reading this week’s installment of News That Was Relevant Two Weeks Ago Before I Was Assigned Workie-Work That Pays The Bills. Since the time I started writing Volume 8, the world has felt transformed. Last night I saw the first blockbuster film of the year, Marvel’s Black Widow. Broadway is opening up (https://sonikmatter.substack.com/p/c19-andrew-lloyd-webber), local concerts and events are in full swing. In my neck of the woods, we have the Indiana Black Expo, halted through the pandemic and until a few weeks ago still felt as if it were up in the air...if you are in the Mid-West USA, come see the free concert next Friday with Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill, Stephanie Mills, and El Debarge...sure, I haven’t heard any of these folks since the ’80s, but you’re damn tootin’ if you think I’m going to miss the first big show in my city.
Once again, thank you for reading this, and if you have questions, comments, concerns, or insults...please leave them in the forum! I miss you all and hope to see this world alive soon. And until the last subsubscriber cancels, I will see you next time!
Barely Edited, Never Fact-Checked, Always Opinionated. If you have any news, rumors, innuendos, or slander…please share on our site…if we publish this, we will credit you and assume absolutely no blame!
Alternatively, you may also message our postmaster at Zampino@sonikmatter.com.
Grand openin’, grand closin’
God your man Hov’ cracked the can open again
Who you gon’ find doper than him
With no pen, just draw off inspiration
Soon you gon’ see you can’t replace him
With cheap imitations for these generations
Jay-Z, Encore (Born December 4, 1969)