Creative Culture Journal

The best site on the web for what is real in the world of arts & entertainment

Edition IV- 2021


Rest Sad Story 

Spielberg's Broadway retelling of Romeo and Juliet is stuck in the stream.

Was there some public yearning for a new version of "West Side Story"?

As far as that goes, is there ever any public yearning for a remake of anything? In which case, why does the filmmaking industry keep churning out remakes?

The answer, of course, is that original versions of these films have worked,  on some level and for some people, so remaking them seems less risky than bankrolling an unproven idea. That's a little disingenuous, too, as most "unproven" ideas that get produced as films are formulaic facsimiles of proven ideas, so are forms of remakes themselves.

When I saw the original "West Side Story", I was a high school student and we all found the film hilarious. It had some good, showy tunes that we didn't much appreciate at the time, but the dance sequences just seemed silly.

So, when I heard Steven Spielberg was doing a remake I thought, of course. He seems like the worst concievable director of a musical of any kind, and beyond his being a Baby Boomer it is hard to see that he has any connection to the story in this film. Peter Pan, maybe, or Duel, about that mean bully trucker. But West Side Story?

In a colossal misfire, Spielberg's studio has put a premium price tag on seeing his piece of cultural appropriation in a movie theatre. As a result, the film is bombing on the big screen, but expecting to do better in streaming. In which case, tonight will just be any night. - RAR  

Revising The Beatle Narrative

Have you seen Peter Jackson's edit of the "Let It Be" recordings? The release of his three-part streamer has launched the "Let It Be" LP to the top of the charts again, and Beatles fans are drooling all over themselves at seeing their heroes again in a whole new light. In Jackson's world, John and Paul were as tight as Frodo and Sam, except that Lennon saw himself more in the role of Gollum. And Harrison saw himself in the role of a contributor, and Starr in the role of a standby Hobbit.

But what role was Paul McCartney really playing? 

This issue the CCJ imagines what in the world that retelling must possibly be about: 

Let It Be An Alternative Reality


Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are one of America's rare musical art projects, and certainly one of the most enduring.

AllOne - Emotionauts

To No Apparent Purpose

Those of us nobodies, who write books that nobody buys or reads, will take great solace in a spate of recent reports about famous people who have famously bombed with their own recent efforts of no apparent purpose (publishing). 

Billy Eilish, the noted professor of literature from the Old English period – no, not really, she’s a kid pop star – just sold 26,000 copies of a book about herself (I guess). Based on my experience with publishing, that means she either made enough profits for a Grande Mocha at Starbucks, or possibly still owes somebody for production costs. This is only notable because she has 92.3 million followers on the various social networks. If 1 percent of them purchased her book she’d be the new J.K. Rowling, but they didn’t. 

This lack of smack in the publishing business either suggests that followers of Billy Eilish are not into reading, which seems like a plausible assumption, or maybe it says something about followers on social networks. 

There is probably a way to know how many of them are real people, but there is a huge industry in buying bots to pump up your social network numbers. It is why we know the Kardashians, for instance, and Kanye West, and a thousand others like them. 

It’s not just Professor Eilish who feels the sting of sales data, but also Justin Timberlake (Justin Timberlake wrote a book?), who has managed 100,000 sales since his 2018 release (from fame). 

Speaking of fame, Adele is no longer Number 1 on “the charts”. She came out of a six-year retirement and put out another of her pitiful, neo-soul efforts to sound like Duffy, using the standard roster of songwriters who write all songwriters’ records these days. Her teary helium isn’t keeping any of the resulting detritus afloat. She’s been replaced by another mononymous singer, a 16-year-old named Gayle. There is no way of knowing, of course, but “Gayle” doesn’t sound like the name of a 17-year-old we are going to hear of ever again.

But what about Chris Christie? That’s what Chris Christie is wondering. He has been on every cable news show multiple times in the last few weeks, promoting the release of his new book (he’s going to save the Republican party). At last report he had moved less than 3,000 units. With national TV exposure! If he had any brains or money, he would have bought up a sizeable number of his books himself, like everybody else does, so his numbers didn’t look so bad on publishing charts. 

Chris (known as Old Fat Bastard in the Scottish Highlands of New Jersey) didn’t make that tactical move, which suggests to me that the Republican party is dead, like publishing, if riding astride his mighty back is their best hope. 

Actually, somehow in our weird world I suspect the Republicans will own the near future. There is talk of having Donald Trump appointed as Speaker of the House – apparently anyone can do it, you don’t have to be an elected official (what a country!) – when the Republicans take over after the 2022 mid-term elections. He would just be there for photo ops, prying the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands, and then he would quit. The photo would be used on Trump’s website, the only problem being that not a lot of people seem interested in going there. Those that do don’t seem like book worms, so the vertical sales potential is not promising. - RAR


Hell in Sight and Sound

So what is going on with the imagery that is apparently popular among Black entertainers these days?


The "Black" reference is key because in America Black culture is closely tied to "church culture", so why is it that the images being used these days by the most high profile performers - Travis Scott and Lil Nas X - are so blatantly occult in nature?

This question is being debated on the internet, particularly following Scott's disastrous AstroWorld show in Houston.

Or was it a disaster at all? Did it, as some suggest, accomplish its intended purpose, which was the harvesting of souls?

Who then, wonder some, is Travis Scott working for?

And what of Lil Nas X? What could there possibly be of a Christian purpose in his homoerotic presentation?

Is it possible that Scott and Nas X are simply pushing buttons to garner attention and create a buzz? If so, one could debate the collateral damage that may or has been caused by the choices they have made.

These two most recent examples come from a long line of young entertainers who portray a certain sympathy for the devil. The essence has been at the heart of rock, so perhaps its eventual assimilation into the hip-hop community should be expected.

Still, one could wonder about the culture being created. 

Music Distribution Services

There are numerous ways that striving musical artists can get their recorded music out to the streaming services. There are also a variety of services available through these distribution services, and things for a prospective user to consider. What does the service cost and what do you get for the fee? Who does the distributor distributed to and what percentage of return on sales stay with the artist? Does the Distribution Service offer special services, like mastering? 

Here, feature those they consider to be the 10 best:

Best Music Distribution Services 2021

Selling the Catalog

Bruce Springsteen just sold his music catalog for $500 million, making him just one of a number of golden age songwriters who have unloaded their work recently. One wonders what there is in Springsteen's ouvre that could possibly recoup the $500 million payout. Nobody really listens to Springsteen's songs on the radio - hardly ever did, he's a concert attraction - so why this big investment in his catalog, which has but a handful of songs anyone ever covers.

It could make a person wonder how music publishing works, and Billboard has an extensive article on how it all works; well worth reading:

What’s Behind The Boom In Song Catalog Sales? 

Mediocre Talents, Big Machines

The Springsteen catalog sales story raises numerous interesting questions, not the least of which is how will his catalog be used. Certainly you will start hearing Springsteen songs in TV commercials - there will be broad licensing of their use in commercial ventures - and one wonders if the expensive purchase of the catalog isn't partially ensured by the pandering nature of most of Springsteen's work. "Born In the USA" must be one of the tawdriest examples of pander of all time and I think that has already been used to sell pickup trucks. You'll see more of that, but what is exploitable among the rest of the song catalog?

Springsteen is a supreme example of something you see in the music industry that makes it quite unlike most other businesses: executives rolling the dice on "what might be". Most businesses identify needs, not being addressed in the marketplace, that they exploit by developing products specifically designed as solutions. You can't do that with pop culture, because it changes by the month.

The history of music executives picking correctly on their talent gambles has never been great, and top bosses have tended to select a horse from among their talent stable that they stick with come hell or high water.

Springsteen has been one of those people. Back in 1970 he was the subject of a huge marketing campaign that heralded him as the next Bob Dylan. He spent years putting out horribly produced and barely listenable albums that few people bought and mostly relied on FM radio play. Then he became the headband wearing panderer most people now think of when they think of Bruce Springsteen (quite different from the original bohemian image). That image worked better for him as a commercial artist, but he was never again to be seen as an authentic songwriter, just a guy who bounced from genre to genre trying to find that usual business opportunity described above.    

So how do some people get these loyal, royal treatments, when most failed record sellers get dropped like dimwitted boyfriends?

Madonna got that ride - she sold to a soft market of teenaged girls and gays - but despite her big machine backing she could never become more than a burlesque act, never a movie star (for instance) no matter how arduously she was pushed upon the public.

Lady Gaga inherited or stole Madonna's mantle (like she stole her stage name) and has gotten that same ride, pushed upon the public relentlessly, usually resulting in a general realization that "she ain't so much".

So how does it happen? It seems sort of mysterious, a pattern that calls for some sort of subtext, a conspiracy of some kind. More likely it is just the good luck of some unspecial talents to win the devoted attentions of an Ahmet Ertegen or a Clive Davis, ancient relics of the entertainment world who will go to great lengths to defend their legends and over time seem correct in their creative business decisions.    


Gretchen Peters UK Tour 2022

Nashville songstress Gretchen Peters is marking a milestone: "2022 will mark my 25th year of touring in the UK, and we're going to be celebrating that anniversary with a special first week run of shows looking back on those early years. UK shows from 25 March through 2 April 2022 will be an intimate evening featuring myself and Barry Walsh (Kim Richey supports). I’ll share road stories and reach back into my catalog to play some of the songs I brought to the UK when I first started touring."



Corey Landis Tribute to Sondheim

Here at the CCJ we are big fans of Corey Landis. (Use this link to go to his website.) Corey is a fine actor and a dynamite songwriter, singer and musician, and he seems to be a theater guy at heart. Here he does a nice tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim.



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Link to CCJ Edition II - 2021.

Link to CCJ Edition III -2021.  

For many years, the RARWRITER Publishing Group has been capturing stories and presenting feature articles on an international community of artists in various fields. Use the RARWRITER Archive link below to explore those past editions of, now called the Creative Culture Journal. Use the links provided there to explore issues published previous to our transition to this new format.